World's Friendliest Countries
Living abroad doesn’t have to lead to homesickness. That’s especially true for people who have relocated to New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.
These are the three nations where it’s easiest to befriend locals, learn the local language, integrate into the community and fit into the new culture, according to the results of HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, released last month.1. New Zealand
3. South Africa
5. United States
New Zealand, in the top spot, had high scores in all four categories. Seventy-five percent of respondents living there reported that they were integrating well in the local community; in Australia it was 77 percent and in South Africa 79 percent.
“New Zealanders as a whole seem like happy people, and that translates into friendly, helpful and kind people,” notes American expat Kim Brinster. Other positive aspects, she says, include a “pitch-in-and-help mentality,” as well as navigable government and health-care systems. A former New York Citybookstore owner, she relocated two years ago to Waiheke Island, off Auckland, to be with her New Zealander partner. She has no plans to leave.
HSBC surveyed 3,385 expatriates in 100 countries between May and July 2011. Because countries with fewer than 30 respondents were deemed statistically insignificant, the findings rank a total of only 31 countries. Bermuda, which ranked highly last year, was not included this year because it had too few respondents.
“As the largest global survey of expats, Expat Explorer allows us to capture invaluable insights into expat life and how it differs from country to country, continent to continent and from an expats’ home country of origin,” says Lisa Wood, head of marketing for HSBC. “We want to be a business that truly understands its customers so that we can ensure our products and services meet their needs effectively.”
Respondents rated their host countries on a slew of factors related to economics, raising children and overall experience.
To determine which were the friendliest, Forbes isolated the results in four categories: ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture. All play into the ability of expats to create a new support structure, which New York-based expat coach Heather Markel says is among the biggest challenges when relocating.