EU, East Asia dominate InterNations Quality of Life Index

Taipei 101

It’s a new year and a new start for many, who will be assessing their lot in a rapidly changing world. Few things can be relied on anymore, from job security to political stability. Brexit is naturally forcing a rethink among people resident in the UK, and the US has surprisingly and controversially introduced a travel ban. And it will likely get more problematic still.

Amidst so much uncertainty, the pursuit of quality of life by international migrants almost seems a luxury. Never mind children’s education, decent healthcare and hours of sunshine; how about just holding down a job and being allowed to stay in the country?

It’s a question I’m pondering as I’m scanning the latest Quality of Life Index from InterNations. Nine EU destinations, are listed in the top 20. With the UK hellbent on leaving Europe and burning bridges,  British passport holders might want to reconsider relocating to any of these countries long-term, at least until visa and travel rules become clearer.

Beyond the EU, two neighbouring East Asia countries sit in the top 3. Taiwan tops the index of 67 countries, with a whopping 99% of respondents rating their personal safety favourably and 89% reporting satisfaction with the territory’s peacefulness. Japan was in third, with those polled rating it highly for transport and again peacefulness.

But again, with tensions rising over the South China Sea, and Trump irritating China over Taiwan,  the situation in East Asia is looking pricklier than usual.

As for last year’s index winner, Singapore, the city-state dropped to eight in 2016., while still ranking first for Travel & Transport.

And finally, the countries to avoid (you might also want to add the US if you hail from a Muslim-majority country): Nigeria is worst for quality of life, followed by Mozambique and Kuwait.

Here is the Quality of Life Index in full:

Quality of Life Index 2016

Tragedy of Millennials? International opportunities can transform lives

Wingtip - image credit: Ralf Roletschek

In a thought-provoking piece for the FT, Sarah O’Connor described how Millennials are too insecure to push for a raise. She suggests, by way of example, that two decades of uncertainty in Japan has instilled fearfulness and risk-aversion in the nation’s youth. O’Connor adds that many young people have bent over backwards to persuade anyone to give them a foothold:

In the US, the proportion of college graduates working in non-graduate jobs rose to 44 per cent after the recession.

In the eurozone, about 40 per cent of workers aged 15 to 29 are in temporary jobs that typically provide little training or progression.

But can the same be said of workers with international experience? An excellent report by the British Council (disclosure: I used to work for them, but I had no involvement with the making of this report) called A World of Experience reveals, among other stats:

  • 85 percent of those studying or working abroad for 3 months or more, or travelling for more than 6 months, described themselves as confident in their ability to meet new challenges
  • 82 percent of individuals with international experience were confident in their ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar situations
  • Respondents with international experience were also slightly more likely to describe themselves as resilient
  • Over half of those with university-level experience abroad (53 percent) reported that it helped them to get a job that interested them

Others agree. Writing for The Guardian, Felix Marquardt recognises that “young people are hurting and they are hurting on a global scale”, and warns of a generational crisis. The answer? “We need people to move.” He even suggests a global youth work visa that allows young people to work for up to two years in the country of their choice.

Finally, I can attest that grabbing opportunities abroad can be beneficial, as an expat with several years overseas experience. I’ve heard of an English-language teacher in China (teaching English can be well-paid, and there is demand) learning Mandarin, making connections and becoming a project manager. Imagine their value in the global labour market now!

UK internet speeds “dire”, blasts report: so where is best?

Palace of Westminster

If you’re a mobile worker or digital nomad, you will likely need fast internet (or at least reliable), so that you may do your job properly. No internet, no digital.

So a new report by UK MPs claiming that rural SMEs and consumers experience “dire” internet speeds in Britain, a popular startup and expat destination (and the world’s 5th biggest economy), comes as a surprise:

So where is best overall? It looks like Nordic countries and advanced Asian economies reign supreme, though they are arguably more expensive places for the average digital nomad to set up, according to Akamai’s Q3 2015 State of the Internet report:

Statistic: Countries with the highest average internet connection speed as of 3rd quarter 2015 (in Mbps) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

A more useful indicator might be Nomad List’s handy filters, showing that you could do worse than Thailand (Chiang Mai and Bangkok) if you’re a digital nomad needing fast internet.