HSBC’s 2015 Expat Explorer Survey has revealed Bahrain to be the place expats feel most at home in less than a year. With the global average being 48%, Bahrain topped the poll with 66% despite warnings from the Foreign Office of regular protests (that often turn violent) and a high threat of terror.
Georgie Bradley, an expat living in Bahrain comments, “Bahrain is easy to settle in because it’s so much more open than people think. The local/expat interaction is stronger than in neighbouring states, which allows newcomers to feel more relaxed and welcomed.”
Respecting Islamic traditions in Bahrain is a must for expats, with Western travellers refraining from wearing revealing clothing in public and adhering to local social norms in regards to the consumption of alcohol. Although initially met with a nervousness from expats, the unique cultural blend is something to be revelled in and transpires to a positive change in lifestyle and social perception.
Ranked after Bahrain is India, with 63% of expats feeling at home in less than 12 months. With India being such a huge country, representing a sixth of the world’s total population on only 2% of the world’s total land, many are sceptical when considering life in India due to the crowds and congestion.
Sarah Blade, a Briton having moved to Delhi from Dubai observes, “No matter what your socio-economic background, Delhiites pride themselves on being fervently hospitable.” She continues, “Denizens of Delhi will happily take you on a tour of their city and invite you to come home for some chai.”
Rolling out the welcome party in 3rd place is Malaysia where more than six in ten expats feeling settled quickly with many expats commenting that the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is an easily navigable city packed with friendly nationals and expats alike.
Drawing at 61% with Malaysia, is Mexico. With the media often focussing upon crime, corruption and cartels the beauty of the country, exceptional weather and friendly locals are often overlooked. Many expats comment that the Mexican people have a slower pace of life and enjoy every day as if it were their last, making it a satisfying place to reside.
Also present in the top ten countries where expats feel most at home in a year is Taiwan, Oman and Russia all level on 57% and Spain, Indonesia and Vietnam finishing 8th, 9th and 10th positions all on 56%. Many of these countries boast diverse expat communities, welcoming nationals, excellent transport links and, most importantly to some, sunshine!