Your biggest expat fears and how to solve them

Anna Allgaier

There are two types of people in this world. Those who struggle to pick a main course on a Menu and panic order. And those who read the Menu and go full detective on Instagram before making a reservation.

But it doesn’t matter which camp you sit in, there’s always a risk you and your dish may not hit it off.

The purpose of the awful analogy I crafted/butchered is my way of leading into the fear we have when moving abroad. Packing your bags for a new country opens the door to new opportunities, experiences, cultures, and lot’s of other fabulous stuff. That being said, it’s a big decision to make. And like any decision, especially selecting a dish that doesn’t disappoint, it comes with its doubts.

Scared? Don’t be. I’m here to make you less fearful and more fearless.

Expat Insider, powered by InterNations, is one of the world's largest surveys on living and working abroad. Their 2023 survey compiled 10/10 responses from 12,000 expats all over the world, representing 171 nationalities and 172 countries or territories.

The survey had them rate 56 aspects of living abroad so they can put together a lovely little ranking for you. The good news is, I can use that report to give you useful information to influence your move and morale. The even better news is, it means I have to do less of the heavy lifting when writing this. Love it.

Now let’s make those woes wows.

Move your money fearlessly💪

The biggest fears expats have when moving abroad

Out of all the survey participants, the biggest fears they had before moving were things like cost of living, ease of settling in, the weather, finding friends, learning the language, etc.

There’s a lot to consider.

So with that in mind, I’m going to put some lists together on the top ten places to move per fear category, as well as some tips from moi. Because I’m arguably, just as much of an authority as the scientific, in depth, high quality Expat Insider report.

Bear in mind that I’ll be using the overall ranking per category. To take it back to my shockingly bad analogy, instead of looking at the individual rankings of a restaurant’s Starter, Main, and Yummy Yummy Pudding, I’ll list the top ten for Food Satisfaction. If you want to go deeper into the sub categories, the report’s here.

But not until you finish my article. Obviously.

No, really.

Please don’t go 🥺


Not settling in and feeling homesick


You’ll always find your tribe. Leaving familiarity, friends and family back home doesn’t mean you won’t find the same quality of connections in your new home. If you work remotely, join a coworking space. If you love a hobby, join a class or club. If you don’t know where to start, look to online communities or ask friends to introduce you to people they may know there. And remember it may take a minute, but it will happen.

The ranking

To rank the countries that are easiest to settle into, the survey assessed culture & welcome, local friendliness and the ease of finding friends. Here are the top 10…

1) Mexico

2) Brazil

3) Philippines

4) Panama

5) Kenya

6) Indonesia

7) Costa Rica

8) Greece

9) Bahrain

10) Oman


Not finding a job that ticks all of your boxes.


Research the job market. But not just generally. Look at the market for your specific line of work. And when you get to the interview stage, which you will because you’re amazing, don’t forget that you’re interviewing them too. So ask away… Company culture, benefits, working hours, pay.

The ranking

The survey examined career prospects, work and leisure, salary and job security, work culture and satisfaction. So thorough. Good for them.

1) Netherlands

2) Luxembourg

3) Sweden

4) UAE

5) Finland

6) Denmark

7) Canada

8) Ireland

9) Taiwan

10) Australia


Not being able to afford day-to-day living once you’re there.


Firstly, If you’ve already found a job, round of applause for you. Use your salary, average rent, cost of public transport, bla bla bla, to assess the situation. If you haven't, a trip to Google will tell you the average salary for your profession. When I moved to Berlin, I used a spreadsheet to list all of my typical expenditures and what this would look like in outgoings.

The ranking

Our good friend Miss Survey based her findings on affordable living, financial satisfaction and comfort.

1) Vietnam

2) Mexico

3) Philippines

4) Thailand

5) Malaysia

6) Indonesia

7) Colombia

8) Panama

9) India

10) China


Not having a decent quality of life


Quality of life is a broad one. Is the nightlife enough for you and your party pants? Is there a decent doctor for me to go to when I’ve twisted my ankle post-party pants outing? Is the weather nice enough for me to roast like a rotisserie chicken? Well, government and official sites can give you all the information you need on practicalities like healthcare. Snore. And some social media scrolling and magazine mastery will tell you everything you need to know about leisure, lols and living it up.

The ranking

Quality’s the name and leisure options, environment and climate, travel and transit, healthcare and safety and security’s the game. That really doesn’t roll off the tongue.

1) Spain

2) Taiwan

3) Finland

4) UAE

5) Austria

6) Singapore

7) Portugal

8) Switzerland

9) Luxembourg

10) Denmark


Not having Wifi. Just kidding, there’s more to it than that, like bureaucracy and finding somewhere to live where opening a bank account isn’t all kinds of awful.


Well, obviously, just use Wise silly. We’ll get you set up in minutes so you can live like a local in nine major currencies, for both business and pleasure in good measure. Everything else isn’t really important, so I’ll move on now. Again, just kidding. But not really, because we are moving on.

The ranking

This ranking is all about the simplicity of finding a home, how tricky the bureaucratic system is, how easy it is to learn the language or get by without it and access to digital services. Like Wifi 💋

1) Bahrain

2) UAE

3) Oman

4) Malaysia

5) Estonia

6) Qatar

7) Panama

8) Kenya

9) Saudi Arabia

10) Finland

I hope this article helps you to make friends, find a job, find a flat, nail work life balance, and basically laugh in the face of life because you’ve bossed it. If it hasn’t let me point you in the direction of something that’s guaranteed to be helpful.


It’s Wise.

My brainbox team has built features and products to make your financial move flawless.

  • A multi-currency account, accessible across 150+ countries
  • A personal and business card you can set up in minutes
  • Features like Wise Jars so you can save up for your move
  • A send and receive money feature so you can pay and get paid with no hidden fees or naughty markups.
  • Want to know more? Course you do. Give the linky-poo a click 👇

🎵 Click me baby one more time 🎵

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