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Top 5 European Countries for Expats

In the recent past, here at the Expatriate Healthcare news section, we dove headlong into the 2015 HSBC Expat Explorer survey.

The annual publication was the most extensive ever this year, taking into account the independent feedback of almost 22,000 different expats around the globe.

In essence, the freely-available report aims to provide a “helicopter view” of the expat experience, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of individual countries as expat destinations.

Regular readers of this column will know that Singapore was recently voted the world’s top expat destination. Furthermore we’ve also discussed Switzerland’s fall from the top. However recently we have received a number of tweets about the very best expat destinations in Europe.

With this in mind, and with the expat survey at the ready, today we’re going to take a look at the top European destinations for expats.

5) Spain

Spain is a fascinating case of contrasts. For example, in the overall rankings Spain tends to rank very poorly in terms of economics. Factors such as career progression, wage growth and income all rank poorly. Indeed, it’s only in the work/life balance category that Spain performs strongly.

However it is in the other two main categories that Spain really comes into its own. It is considered a tremendously family-friendly location, for example, with social life and costs of child rearing being some of the most highly celebrated aspects of living in Spain.

Spain also rules supreme in the “Experience” category, with expats reporting good health, an ease of integration and the Spanish culture being among the most appealing elements of life in Spain.

4) Netherlands

Fourth in the European ranks comes the beautiful Netherlands, known for its flat landscape, tulips and picturesque windmills.

The greatest things about living in the Netherlands are how family-centric the culture here is. Expats report some of the highest scores for tolerance towards others, the quality of education and childcare.

Like Spain, however, the Netherlands do have an Achilles Heel; in this case the Experience category. Expats report that cultural activities are below par, while integration and making local friends can be far more problematic than in other countries.

3) Switzerland

Switzerland may have fallen from the top spot as the best overall country for expats, but its scores are still highly impressive. Indeed, Switzerland still retains the number one position for the “Economics” category, with expats reporting high levels of disposable income, economic confidence and political stability.

2) Germany

Germany is one of the world’s largest economies, and it shows in the expat survey results. Workers here are bullish about their economic outlook and job security, as well as complimentary about the work/life balance on offer.

1) Sweden

Ranking third overall, just behind New Zealand (second) and Singapore (first), Sweden comes top for family life in the world. Only really falling behind in terms of social life, Sweden consistently scores in the top few places for health, quality of life, cost of rearing children and societal tolerance.

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