The Expat Insider 2019 survey, conducted by InterNations, is the largest international survey of people living and working abroad. Bahrain, which had previously ranked number one, has dramatically fallen six places in a year.
The annual survey by InterNations approached 20,259 expats representing 182 nationalities living in 187 countries.
Participants were asked to rate up to 48 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven.
The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction in topics such as the friendliness of the local population as well as more factual aspects such as the affordability of healthcare.
According to the report’s findings, despite the kingdom losing ground in relation to other destinations, expats are still generally happy and find it easy to settle in. Bahrain is still among the top ten expat destinations and is the only GCC country to be listed among the top ten expat destinations in the study, which ranked a total of sixty-four countries.
Taiwan takes the first place as it regains the position it held in 2016 and has consistently ranked in the top five while Portugal (third) and Vietnam (second) have reached new heights in the global expat ranking.
The worst place for expats out of the 64 countries surveyed was Kuwait (64th out of 64), closely followed by Nigeria.
The survey covered six parameters; Quality of Life, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, Cost of Living, and Ease of Settling in.
Here’s a look at where Bahrain stands in comparison with other countries on each of the survey parameters and their subcategories.
Quality of Life Index
Bahrain fell six places, from 20th to 26th place, a drop that was witnessed in all but one of the subcategories, namely; Leisure (31st place in 2018 to 43rd place in 2019), Personal Happiness (2nd to 6th), Travel and Transportation (35th to 44th), Health and Well-Being (25th to 27th), and Digital Life (12th to 17th).
The only improvement for Bahrain in the ranking was for Safety and Security (23rd in 2018 to 20th in 2019).
In comparison, Kuwait came second last (63rd place out of 64), UAE and Qatar came in 21st and 27th places, and Oman at 35th.
Working Abroad Index
In 2018, Bahrain held the No.1 spot in this index, a standing that fell 18 places this year. The decline was reflected in all three subcategories of this index – Career Prospects and Satisfaction (1st in 2018 to 10th in 2019), Work and Leisure (2nd to 21st) and Economy and Job Security (22nd to 29th).
According to the survey, the 17 place drop in this index affected Bahrain’s overall standing in the 2019 Expat Survey. Qatar emerged as one of the biggest winners while Bahrain was the biggest loser in this category.
While Bahrain is still in the top 10 countries for career prospects and job satisfaction, expats seem less satisfied with their working hours and job security. Vietnam replaced Bahrain as the No.1 country in the category. Kuwait remained in the bottom 10 places with UAE and Oman in the late 40s.
Family Life Index
Expat parents are also slightly less happy, ranking Bahrain 13th out of 36 countries in the Family Life Index.
Still, more than nine in ten parents (93%) rate the friendly attitude towards families with children positively.
Consistency is seen in one of the four subcategories as Bahrain remains 20th for two consecutive years (2018- 2019) in terms of Cost of Childcare and Education. The drop resumes in the remaining three subcategories- Availability of Childcare and Education (9th in 2018 to 12th in 2019), Quality of Education (3rd to 10th) and Family Well- Being (8th to 10th).
Finland stands as No.1 for the fourth consecutive year with Sweden taking the 2nd place and Belgium 3rd. UAE came in 23rd place, Qatar in 25th place, and Oman in 33rd place. To feature in this index, a country needed to have at least 40 respondents which Kuwait didn’t achieve.
Personal Finance Index
Bahrain held on to its 22nd position for two consecutive years (2018-2019) in this category. The index is based on two questions asking respondents to rate their financial situation and their disposable household income with regard to covering all living expenses. There are no subcategories in this index.
Kuwait finally climbed out of the very bottom places by ranking 38th in this index while UAE took 61st position, Qatar 14th, and Oman 41st.
Vietnam took the number one spot. Of interest is that South Africa plunged from 38th place in 2018 to 56th this year.
Cost of Living Index
This placed Bahrain 29th in 2019, a drop from its 25th rank in 2018. Bahrain has witnessed a rapid increase in expenses recently with electricity and water costs going up over 800% during the past few years – and expats being charged many times more for their electricity and utilities than Bahrainis.
Kuwait managed to stay out of the 60s for the second time (just) ranking 58th. Oman, Qatar, and UAE were placed 31st, 41st, and 52nd respectively.
Ease of Settling in Index
Bahrain dropped from first place in 2018 to second place in 2019 – the least the kingdom has fallen compared to the other indexes. In 2018, Bahrain varied between the 1st and 2nd place for the four subcategories in this index and still manages to remain in the top 10 of these subcategories in 2019.
The kingdom’s ranking in the subcategories were – Feeling at Home (1st in 2018 to 54th in 2019), Friendliness (2nd to 10th), and Finding Friends (2nd to 5th).
Four out of five respondents (82%) stated that it is easy to settle in Bahrain and 94% stated that it is easy to live in the kingdom without speaking the local language. Overall, more than eight in ten (81%) are happy with the general friendliness of the population.
Kuwait took the last place yet again in this index, while Oman came 6th, Qatar 15th, and UAE 47th.