World’s most unfriendly nations for expats

Published:  8 Nov at 6 PM
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One important aspect when choosing an expat destination is undoubtedly the friendliness of the local people.

Leaving friends and family in the home country and settling in an unfamiliar country with a confusing culture isn’t easy, and relies to some extent on the friendliness of new neighbours and work colleagues. Sadly, not all expat destinations offer friendship along with a new career and a generous salary, leaving gregarious expats and their spouses wondering whether they made the wrong choice.

The latest Expat Insider survey made no bones about the ten most unfriendly countries on the planet, several of which are considered highly desirable for their elite lifestyles fuelled by high salaries, tax breaks and other perks. Several are obvious, due to their vastly different cultures and histories and several more are somewhat of a heavily contested surprise as expats ‘on the ground’ may well have different experiences than those who responded to the survey. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, two of the top three most unfriendly countries for expatriates, come as no surprise, especially since the Gulf States’ demographically motivated push to replace the vast majority of expats with unwilling, mostly unprepared and inexperienced local labour.

The third, the Czech Republic, isn’t often mentioned as a major expatriate destination. Switzerland came fourth on the list, surprising few of those who live and work there, with the local culture deemed hard to get used to in spite of the high quality of life enjoyed by most expat professionals. The Scandinavian trio of Norway, Sweden and Denmark won no prizes for friendship, and Finland’s attitude towards foreign residents also left a lot to be desired.

Lurking just outside the top ten unfriendly countries was Germany, with the German language a barrier to friendship in general. France’s inclusion came as something of a shock, with only 14 per cent of respondents saying they’d managed to make French friends against a global average of 26 percent. Further down the unfriendliness list were Qatar, China, Russia and Japan, with language a major problem in all four.
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