Bahrain ranks among top 10 nations for expats to settle in

BAHRAIN ranks among the top 10 countries – and first among the GCC nations – for making expats easy to settle in, and providing easy access to healthcare services.

The kingdom has been placed ninth out of 53 countries covered in the Expat Insider Survey 2023 being released today by the Munich-based InterNations, which is the world’s largest expatriate community with more than four million members.

More than 12,000 respondents living and working in 53 destinations across the globe took part in the latest edition of the survey, giving their opinions under five parameters: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the Expat Essentials Index, which covers housing, administration, language and digital life.

Mexico tops the survey followed by Spain, Panama, Malaysia and Taiwan, with the worst destinations being Kuwait, Norway, Türkiye, South Korea and Germany.

Among the GCC nations, Bahrain, which was ranked 15th in the last report, is followed by the UAE (11), Oman (12), Saudi Arabia (28), Qatar (31) and Kuwait (53).

The kingdom ranks first in the Expat Essentials Index that has different sub-categories like admin topics such as getting a visa, dealing with local authorities and opening a bank account.

“In fact, nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) say that opening a local bank account is easy (vs 62pc globally),” says the report.

“For over seven in 10 (73pc), applying for a visa was not difficult either (vs 57pc globally), and 59pc do not struggle when dealing with bureaucracy and the local authorities (vs 39pc globally).”

The language barrier is rather low: 78pc find it easy to live in Bahrain without speaking the local language (vs 50pc globally).

Housing is easy to find in the country (according to 75pc vs 49pc globally) but not quite as easy to afford.

Nearly three in 10 respondents (28pc) struggle with this factor, though this share is at least notably lower than the global average of 42pc.

In the Ease of Settling in Index, Bahrain is ranked ninth, Working Abroad Index (19), Quality of Life Index (20) and Personal Finance Index (27).

The reports adds that 64pc of expats in Bahrain find it generally easy to make local friends (vs 43pc globally) and, unsurprisingly, the majority of expats feel welcome in Bahrain (84pc vs 67pc globally).

“Bahrain makes me feel like I belong. I love how small the country is and how you always feel like family!” said an American expat.

Expats are particularly happy with the easy access to all kinds of healthcare services (78pc vs 65pc globally), and 78pc appreciate the quality of medical care (vs 70pc globally).

But the respondents are unhappy with their disposable household income (51st), and many say that they are not paid fairly for their work (48th).

Also, 24pc of expats are unhappy with their working hours (vs 16pc globally); with an average of 49.3 hours per week for full-time employees, these are indeed much longer than the global average of 42.7 hours.

Another 63pc agree that the local business culture encourages creativity and thinking outside the box, compared to 51pc globally.

Still, 71pc are happy with their life in Bahrain, about the same as the global average of 72pc.

There are some concerns over Environment and Climate (40th), with 17pc rating the natural environment poorly (vs 6pc globally), while 20pc say the same about the urban environment (vs 16pc globally).

Many expats also do not seem to cope well with the arid climate and weather (51st).

In addition, not all expats may be benefiting personally from the economy: 27pc believe they are not paid fairly for their work (vs 19pc globally).

“More than two in five (43pc) do not feel like their disposable household income is enough to afford a comfortable life in Bahrain (vs. 27pc globally),” added the report.

“This year’s edition of Expat Insider Survey is a very special occasion for us,” InterNations founder and co-chief executive Malte Zeeck told the GDN.

“We’re proud to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of one of the most comprehensive and most frequently cited surveys on life abroad.

“And looking at the results, I think Bahrain might have reason to celebrate as well. For the fifth time in the past 10 years, it lands among the global top 10 destinations for expats.”

“Expats in Bahrain find it particularly easy to deal with the essentials of moving and living abroad, such as getting a visa, accessing administrative services and finding housing.

“For example, Bahrain is one of the destinations where expats are happiest with their social life, and they also seem really content with their life abroad in general.”

However, Mr Zeeck said that not everything is perfect for expats in Bahrain.

“There are a few areas where they struggle, especially with what they regard as a lack of fair pay at work and not always having enough income for a comfortable life in Bahrain.”

The GDN reported in March that another survey by InterNations ranked Bahrain as the number one place to live and work in among 52 countries.

The report was comprised only of the ‘Expat Essential Index’, which is one of the five indices in the survey.





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