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Kuala Lumpur ranks no.8 on best cities for expats

The best cities for expats have been ranked, with Valencia in Spain taking the top spot. We take a look at the rest of the results.

With more than 4.1 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad.

Their annual expat city ranking draws on data from a survey of over 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories. Valencia in Spain has been named the best city for expats in a ranking of 66 cities.

Expats in Valencia claim to be particularly satisfied with the cost of living and the quality and accessibility of healthcare in the city. They also highlighted the local climate and the leisure options favourably.

Elsewhere on the Iberian Peninsula, Alicante, Lisbon, Málaga and Madrid all ranked among the top 10 cities. Expats in Alicante reported that they received a warm welcome and love the sunny climate while respondents in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, described the city as a “sunny, safe and social place for expats”.

Panama City was the highest-rated non-Iberian city, followed by Singapore in fifth, Buenos Aires in seventh, Kuala Lumpur in eighth and Abu Dhabi in 10th.


  • Expats in Valencia are particularly happy with healthcare and the climate.
  • In Alicante, four-fifths of expats said they feel at home in the city.
  • Not a single respondent had anything negative to say about their personal safety in Lisbon.
  • Half of the top 10 cities are found on the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Singapore (5) is Asia’s best city for expats.
  • Expats in Kuala Lumpur (8) generally find it “easy to settle in and on a reasonable budget”.
  • Expats in Abu Dhabi (10) overwhelmingly reported the city is easy to relocate to and safe to live in.
  • Salmiya in Kuwait was ranked last with expats feeling overworked and homesick.
  • Expats in Seoul (64) said they found it particularly challenging to get settled in the South Korean capital.
  • Two Italian cities – Milan (63) and Rome (65) – are ranked in the bottom 10.


Participants were asked to rate 25 aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven.

The respondents’ ratings were then consolidated to create 13 subcategories and four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life and Finance & Housing. These were then aggregated in order to rank all 66 cities. 

  1. Valencia, Spain
  2. Alicante, Spain
  3. Lisbon, Portugal
  4. Panama City, Panama
  5. Singapore, Singapore
  6. Málaga, Spain
  7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  9. Madrid, Spain
  10. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  11. Graz, Austria
  12. Sydney, Australia
  13. Nice, France
  14. Muscat, Oman
  15. Doha, Qatar
  16. Vienna, Austria
  17. Moscow, Russia
  18. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
  19. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  20. Dubai, UAE
  21. Shanghai, China
  22. Auckland, New Zealand
  23. Prague, Czech Republic
  24. Basel, Switzerland
  25. Barcelona, Spain
  26. Dusseldorf, Germany
  27. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  28. Lausanne, Switzerland
  29. Frankfurt, Germany
  30. Bangkok, Thailand
  31. The Hague, The Netherlands
  32. Brussels, Belgium
  33. Hamburg, Germany
  34. New York, USA
  35. Tallinn, Estonia
  36. Helsinki, Finland
  37. Zurich, Switzerland
  38. Mexico City, Mexico
  39. São Paulo, Brazil
  40. Toronto, Canada
  41. Munich, Germany
  42. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  43. Budapest, Hungary
  44. Berlin, Germany
  45. Stockholm, Sweden
  46. Copenhagen, Denmark
  47. Cairo, Egypt
  48. Geneva, Switzerland
  49. Stuttgart, Germany
  50. Athens, Greece
  51. London, UK
  52. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  53. Tokyo, Japan
  54. Istanbul, Turkey
  55. Beijing, China
  56. Cape Town, South Africa
  57. Hong Kong, SAR China
  58. Dublin, Ireland
  59. Santiago, Chile
  60. Johannesburg, South Africa
  61. Paris, France
  62. Nairobi, Kenya
  63. Milan, Italy
  64. Seoul, South Korea
  65. Rome, Italy
  66. Salmiya, Kuwait
Source: Atlas & Boots