Manama is the best city for expats, reveals InterNations survey

The National Theatre of Bahrain in Manama

Hollywood has had a curious love affair with the city for years. Tourists are drawn to its je ne sais quois. It’s even home to the world’s most expensive footballer.

Chapeau.

But it’s very much a non, merci from expats, who have rated Paris the worst city worldwide for getting settled. The French capital is surprisingly third from bottom in InterNation’s Expat City Ranking 2017.

According to InterNations, more than double the global average of respondents believe it very hard to live in the City of Light without speaking the local language.

(Last time I checked the local language was the very widely spoken French, learned from an early age in many schools worldwide; some people, eh.)

Top spot this year has gone to Manama which, as the capital of Bahrain rather than the isthmus linking the two Americas, isn’t a typo.

Manama, according to the survey, is the easiest city for getting settled (92% of respondents say its easy to live there without speaking Arabic). It furthermore does well for urban work life and Bahrainis are also said to be very friendly.

The top 10 is as follows:

  1. Manama
  2. Prague
  3. Madrid
  4. Kuala Lumpur
  5. Amsterdam
  6. Barcelona
  7. Johannesburg
  8. Bangkok
  9. Basel
  10. Frankfurt

As for the opposite end of the table, Lagos came bottom, with expats reportedly being unhappy with their personal safety and the local political instability. Nigeria’s biggest city was also ranked the third most stressful city worldwide in a separate survey conducted recently by Zipjet.

Raging at the world? Move to Stuttgart, the world’s least stressful city

Stuttgart

It’s tempting on occasion to think the world is falling apart, with everyone turning on each other and attacks coming out of nowhere.

But then I put down the PS4 controller and feel immediately at ease.

Thankfully it’s just a game, and I can escape at will. In the real world many aren’t so lucky, with it taking a little more than an adult colouring book to restore sanity.

A survey by Zipjet – a dry cleaning service in London (yes, I’m surprised too) – has helpfully revealed the most stressful and the least stressful cities on Earth. The dry cleaners reveal that the purpose of the study was to find out how the most stressful cities can benefit from the example of cities least affected (those it’s not clear how, and why it’s of interest to a dry cleaning service).

In the unlikely event you’re based in Baghdad, you might want to look away now, as your city came first.  The Iraqi capital scored worst across areas such as pollution, economic factors and health (physical and mental).

Kabul was ranked second, and while tempting to think that Mogadishu was next, another African city – Lagos – emerged third most stressful worldwide.

The full list of 150 cities included a surprise or two, as might be expected with any survey. It’s difficult to object to former conflict-torn cities placed lower down the list…but Kuala Lumpur in 110th?

How is Malaysia’s famously laid-back capital more stressful than Tokyo (72nd), Hong Kong (74th) and New York (84th) – cities equally famed for their long hours and high pressure?

Reaching for a mindfulness app to bring down my blood pressure as I contemplated such madness, I turned to look at the five most tranquil cities in the world.

And they all look rather ho-hum, with the exception of one city known for its annual beer festival.

Stuttgart tops the list, with Luxembourg ranked second ahead of Hanover, Bern and Munich. These places also do rather well in quality of life surveys.

So it’s crystal clear: if you’re looking to relocate to somewhere chilled, learn German first. And if you want to avoid stress in your life, give war-battered cities a miss.

Iberian nations dominate InterNations Quality of Life 2017 index

Portugal

With kids now going back to school across Europe, many parents will perhaps be reminiscing on their summer holiday in the Mediterranean and how nice everything was. They might even think about living there (that’s the dangerous thing about holidays – they tend to force a what if rethink in people’s minds).

Southern Europe wouldn’t be a bad choice, either: the latest InterNations Quality of Life Index shows that Portugal and Spain have the best standard of living rated by expats in the world, divided only by 2016 winner Taiwan (which is also a wonderful destination, albeit for different reasons).

On that point, it’s interesting to see blocs in the index – Denmark, Sweden and Finland are bunched together, as are Germany and Luxembourg. It does feel a little like a Eurovision Song Contest of living standards.

The top 20 is as follows:

1. Portugal
2. Taiwan
3. Spain
4. Singapore
5. Czech Republic
6. Japan
7. Australia
8. Switzerland
9. Costa Rica
10. Germany
11. Luxembourg
12. Denmark
13. Canada
14. Sweden
15. New Zealand
16. Finland
17. Netherlands
18. UAE
19. Malta
20. South Korea

Portugal’s success, coming a year after the nation won football’s European Championships, shows the country on the ascendancy. Perhaps. It might not be a surprise to the organisers of the amazing coworking retreat Offsite Immersive in Guia, offering a pool and a nearby beach.

Overall Quality of Life aside, the Quality of Life Index grouped countries under five categories: Leisure Options, Personal Happiness, Travel & Transport, Health & Wellbeing, and Safety & Security.

InterNations polled 12,500 expats of 166 nationalities based in 188 territories and asked them to rate 43 aspects of life overseas.