Hint: It’s an island, but probably not the one you're thinking of.

By Tracey Minkin
July 22, 2019
Sophon Chuesai / EyeEm/Getty Images

Are you falling asleep to dreams of an exotic next chapter overseas? Does the phrase “expat” fill you with a sense of adventure and promise? Are you ready for a new country … at least for a while?

It turns out that the very best destination you should consider for that next, expat chapter isn’t a palm-tree-shaded island in the Caribbean, a Mexican beach town, or even a fantasy Bali village (not that there is anything wrong with any of those things).

It’s Iceland.

Yes, the small, northern island that’s been one of the hottest (and at risk for becoming over-touristed) destinations in the world for the past several years is also the best place to live abroad, according to the recently released Global Expat Index published by Globehunters, a discount flight-booking site.

Related: 5 Countries Where You Can Retire By the Beach for Less Than $1,500 a Month

The home of some of the world’s most beautiful black-sand beaches (not to mention other hyperbolic landscapes, the world’s most cunning collection of puffins, and yes, the Blue Lagoon) beat out land-locked Austria (#2), peaceful neighbor to the north Canada (#3), and perennial dream retirement nation New Zealand (#4) for the top spot in the 2019 survey, which assessed 34 countries on 11 metrics that combine to define an excellent place to live abroad. Germany nabbed the #5 spot, followed in order by Sweden, the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, and Norway. (It’s worth noting that all but one of the top 10 expat nations possess coastlines. Just saying.)

What Makes an Expat-Friendly Country?

To arrive at its rankings, the creators of the Global Expat Index began with four basic categories: Career Prospects, Cost of Living, Quality of Life, and Lifestyle. Within each category, researchers assessed the following data: average income and employment rate for Career Prospects; cost of living index and city center apartment cost per square meter for Cost of Living; life expectancy, national health expenditure as percent of GDP, and a safety score for Quality of Life; and a happiness score, migrant acceptance score, expat population, and cost of one month private childcare for Lifestyle. A formula combined those metrics into an overall index score, and the rankings emerged from there. (Go here for the entire methodology, scores, and rankings.)

Related: Top 10 Exotic Beach Destinations:

Iceland lead the pack of 34 nations on safety and migrant acceptance, according to Globehunters. Its average income of $59,686.24 (expressed in US dollars), which was second only to Switzerland, which didn’t even make the top 10. The life expectancy in Iceland of 83.1 years was second only to Japan, which did not make the top 10 either.

And that doesn’t even get at the sheer fabulousness of its official Instagram feed, which was not figured into the formula, but may be reason enough to consider moving.

See you in Reykjavík.

Advertisement