Only seven US cities made the global list for best places to live and work as an expat. Three of those cities — New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — ranked in the bottom 10 places.
That’s according to InterNations, the world’s largest expat networking group with 3.5 million members from 420 cities, which has released its Expat City Ranking 2019 report for the following year.
InterNations defines an expat as an employee sent abroad on a corporate assignment or classed as a new international hire. This will also mean that the experiences of that certain demographic could significantly differ from a local — especially being away on corporate assignment can entail bonuses, such as relocation stipends for example.
The report surveyed more than 20,000 expats, representing 178 nationalities and living in 187 countries or territories, on various aspects of expat life. It asked expats to rate more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven. Those ratings were then bundled into 13 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing. It then got an overall rating. At least 50 respondents had to participate for cities to be part of the ranking — 82 cities made the final ranking.
Miami, Houston, and Boston beat NYC
According to the report, Miami in Florida came in 27th after scoring highly across a number of subcategories. Three-quarters of expats say they feel at home in the city (vs 64% globally) while 66% of expats are satisfied with their social life (vs 55% globally).
One Belgian expat says that “people are much friendlier than in Belgium,” and a Salvadoran expat said that “life here is amazing because this is a melting pot with all kinds of people.”
Houston, Texas ranked 35th after scoring 9th globally in the Finance & Housing Index. It also performed well at providing local career opportunities. But its score was dragged down by a low ranking in the Work-Life Balance subcategory (64th).
Chicago, Illinois ranked 37th, thanks to the abundance of career opportunities. One Ukrainian expat particularly appreciates that there are “opportunities to grow professionally.” However its overall ranking was hit by scoring the worst for the Quality of Urban Living Index and low in the Safety & Politics subcategory (69th).
Over a quarter of expats said they feel unsafe in the city (vs 9% globally). When asked about what they dislike living in Chicago, one Australian expat shares “gun violence” and another mentions “weapons in the street.”
Boston, Massachusetts came in at 58th after performing well in the Job & Career subcategory (6th). Some 78% are generally satisfied with their career prospects (vs 51% globally). One expat shares “the opportunity to be at the forefront of my field professionally” as their highlight of living in Boston.
However, its overall score was dragged down due to low job security levels and bad work-life balance.
New York City came in at 74th — finding itself in the bottom 10 cities of the Expat City Ranking 2019.
It performed badly for finance (73rd), health & environment (75th), work-life balance (76th), and local cost of living (81st). Some 86% of expats rate the local cost of living in New York negatively (vs 38% globally), and 31% even describe it as very bad (vs 8% globally).
However, expats loved the local culture and 68% describe the people in New York as friendly towards expats (vs. 64% globally).
Expats slammed LA, California, voting it as one of the worst cities for local transportation (80th). Its overall ranking was at 76th.
LA was also ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities in general (73rd) as well as for housing specifically (75th). More than three-quarters of expats find it hard to afford housing (vs 44% globally), and 39% are unhappy with their financial situation (vs 26% globally).
Meanwhile, San Francisco, California was voted the worst US American city in the eyes of expats, placed 77th out of 82 cities.
Some 38% of expats in San Francisco are generally unsatisfied with their financial situation while also ranking low for job security (78th), work-life balance (78th), and working hours (80th).