The USA shows worsening attitude towards foreign residents ·

The USA shows worsening attitude towards foreign residents

Expats struggle to build long-lasting friendships with the local population in the USA.

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 68 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 46 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 34 percent

In comparison to previous years, the USA now performs poorly in terms of local attitude towards foreign residents, coming in 36th out of 65 countries for this aspect (19th in 2016). In fact, over a third of expats in the USA struggle with making local friends (35 percent), as the latest Expat Insider survey reveals. Based on the insights of close to 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories in the annual survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a so-far unpublished ranking of the world’s friendliest countries for foreign residents. Chart-topper Portugal is followed by Taiwan, Mexico, Cambodia, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Oman, Colombia, Vietnam, and Canada.

Expats No Longer Feel Welcome in US Culture
Although around three in five expats in the USA would describe the locals as welcoming (59 percent) and outgoing (64 percent), 35 percent find it hard to make local friends. This is an increase of eight percentage points since 2016 (27 percent). “I think it is hard to make local friends here,” says an expat from Brazil. When it comes to the social circles of expats living in the USA, only one-fifth states that their friends are mostly local residents (20 percent). According to 48 percent of these respondents, this is mainly due to cultural issues. “The culture is very different,” a Ukrainian expat in the USA thinks, “people are friendly on the outside, but in fact they do not care.” These difficulties might be one reason why 17 percent of expats in the USA state that they do not feel at home there yet and why another nine percent doubt they ever will.

Top 10 Most Welcoming Countries for Expats

1. Portugal

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 94 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 58 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 47 percent

Climbing nine places since 2016, Portugal claims the title of the most welcoming country for expats. “The local population is friendly and helpful,” states an Australian, while a Dutch expat values that “people look after each other” here. In fact, close to four in five expats (79 percent) describe the Portuguese as welcoming, and about three in ten (29 percent) state that locals make up most of their social circles (vs. 19 percent globally).

2. Taiwan 

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 61 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 30 percent

Close to three-quarters of expats living in Taiwan agree that the Taiwanese are welcoming (73 percent) rather than distant (8 percent). “The people are wonderfully friendly and welcoming to foreigners,” states a US American expat. Maybe it is this friendly attitude that makes it easy for the majority of expats to settle down in the country (74 percent) and feel at home in the local culture (69 percent).

3. Mexico

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 73 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 39 percent

Considering how easy expats find it to make local friends in Mexico, it comes as no surprise that 30 percent say their friends are mainly locals. Moreover, four in five expats find it easy to settle down in the country (81 percent) and to get used to the local culture (80 percent). A US American expat especially likes “how easy it is to adapt, and the people are incredibly friendly”.

4. Cambodia

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 92 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 59 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 23 percent

Moving to Cambodia does not seem to be worrisome for expats: more than four in five find the local population welcoming (85 percent) and think that it is easy to settle down here (83 percent). This might be one of the reasons why 39 percent felt at home nearly straight away, which is the highest share across all surveyed countries and more than twice the global average (19 percent).

5. Bahrain

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 55 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 11 percent

Close to seven in ten (69 percent) find the Bahrainis welcoming, and another 73 percent feel at home in the local culture. This might be thanks to the lack of a significant language barrier: 91 percent find it easy to live here without speaking the local language. “Bahrain is a beautiful melting pot of many different cultures,” states an expat from the USA. In fact, only one percent believes that they will never feel at home here.

6. Costa Rica

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 78 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 48 percent

Out of 65 countries, Costa Rica is the number one destination when it comes to making local friends. This might be due to the fact that 85 percent of expats describe Costa Ricans as welcoming rather than distant (9 percent), which is 30 percentage points above the global average (55 percent). Moreover, it might have contributed to more than four in five expats saying they feel at home in the local culture (81 percent), compared to a global average of 60 percent.

7. Oman

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 60 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 12 percent

“Oman is very expat friendly. The locals are warm and welcoming,” says an Indian living in Oman, and most expats in the country seem to agree: close to three-quarters describe the locals as welcoming (73 percent). Despite that positive attitude, only three percent state to be mainly friends with locals — however, the majority (58 percent) is part of a quite mixed social circle.

8. Colombia

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 62 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 33 percent

Out of the top 10 most welcoming countries, expats in Colombia are the most likely to be mainly friends with locals (34 percent). In fact, more than four in five expats describe the Colombians as welcoming (86 percent) and find it easy to settle down in the country (81 percent). A US American finds the Colombians “open, warm, and friendly”, and an expat from the Netherlands adds that they “are always willing to help”.

9. Vietnam

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 83 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 56 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 16 percent

More than four in five expats describe the Vietnamese as welcoming (81 percent), and 73 percent find it easy to settle down in the country. “I love the friendly vibe in the city,” states an expat from South Korea about life in Ho Chi Minh, “people are mostly nice and gentle.” Despite that welcoming attitude, more than half the expats in Vietnam (51 percent) plan to stay up to five years at most, which is quite above the global average (35 percent).

10. Canada

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 81 percent
  • Ease of making local friends: 43 percent
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 45 percent

Canadians are perceived as welcoming by 62 percent of expats in the country, or as a French expat puts it: they are “open-minded, tolerant, and benevolent”. In fact, close to three in ten expats state to be mainly friends with locals (27 percent), which might contribute to their ease of settling down in the country (70 percent). Although many expats (45 percent) find it likely that they will stay forever, the share of expats not yet feeling at home in the country (15 percent) is the highest out of the top-10 destinations.

Read More about Feeling Welcome Abroad

The Top 10 Most Welcoming Countries
Portugal, Taiwan, and Mexico top the table when it comes to the friendliness of the local population towards foreign residents, but expats can expect a frosty welcome in Switzerland, Austria, and Kuwait, according to the respondents of the Expat Insider survey.

The Expat Bubble
Expats often struggle to completely adjust to living in another country. But sticking exclusively with the expat community may ultimately prevent you from really understanding and immersing yourself in the local culture. InterNations helps you leave your comfort zone!

Ten Ways to Make a Country Feel Like Home
Before a move abroad, excitement is usually high. You are probably imagining all the great things you will learn at your new job and how they will advance your career. You are probably already dreaming of all the delicious local foods you will get to try and the wonderful friends you are about to make, but then you arrive and feel out of place.

Seven Reasons Why You Aren’t Fitting in With the Locals
You took a huge step by moving to a new country! However, it doesn’t quite feel like home yet without the right people by your side. Making new friends through cultural barriers can be a struggle, but thankfully there are ways to make it easier.

About the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 Survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up six topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living Index. Except for the latter, all indices were further averaged in order to rank 65 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2017 the top 10 were Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.

For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per country was necessary. The only exception to this is the Family Life Index, where a sample size of more than 40 respondents raising children abroad was required. In 2017, 65 and 45 countries respectively met these requirements. However, in most countries the sample size exceeded 100 participants.

About InterNations
With 3 million members in 390 cities around the world, InterNations (http://www.internations.org/) is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking both online and face-to-face. At around 6,000 monthly events and activities, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and discussion forums to help members with topics such as the local job or housing search. InterNations membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust.

The InterNations app is available for Android and iOS and can be downloaded for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Find more information about InterNations on our press pages, company website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or in our Expat Magazine.

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