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6 of the 10 worst cities in the world for expats to live in are in Europe — see the list

Rome, Italy.
Rome, Italy.

querbeet/Getty Images


  • Networking site InterNations released its annual ranking of the best and worst cities for expats.

  • More than half of the 10 worst cities for expats in the world are in Europe.

  • South Africa's Johannesburg was voted the worst city overall for expats.

Networking site InterNations has released its latest ranking of best and worst cities for expats, and Europe accounts for some of the best cities — and some of the worst.
Сarrer de les Barques, Valencia, Spain.
Сarrer de les Barques, Valencia, Spain.

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

InterNations surveyed almost 12,000 expats living in 181 countries from February 1 to February 28. Expats surveyed included foreign assignees, international hires, and individuals who relocated to other countries to look for work. 

The survey was first conducted in 2014. This year, the InterNations survey ranked 52 destinations around the world, which were evaluated on overall livability, as well as quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance, and expat essentials.

Valencia, a port city in Spain, was voted the top city for expat living. InterNations said what stood out to the expats surveyed was the affordability of public transportation and how safe they felt in the city.

However, six out of 10 of the lowest-ranked cities were also in Europe. There were also two cities in Asia, one in North America, and one in Africa. 

Keep reading to see the list of the worst cities in the world for expats to live in. Entrants are ranked in descending order.

10. Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy.
Rome, Italy.

querbeet/Getty Images

Rome, the capital of Italy, is one of two Italian cities to make InterNations' worst-rated list.

According to InterNations' survey, 73% of respondents said dealing with local authorities is difficult, and 50% of those surveyed said they perceive the online administrative and government services negatively.

Over 30% also said they are concerned with the Italian economy. 

"While the red tape in Italy can be aggravating, the government bureaucracy does have some advantages," InterNations wrote in its city guide. "Most expats living in Rome with a valid visa, residence permit, and/or residence certificate are entitled to the same public healthcare as Italian citizens."

9. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo

Jackyenjoyphotography/ Getty Images

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the most popular expat destinations. But some expats feel the city isn't the best when it comes to working conditions. 

Of those surveyed, 25% indicated they were unsatisfied with their working hours; 30% said they were unhappy with the work-life balance; and over 60% said the local business culture stifled creativity.

One US expat told InterNations that Japan's work culture was "a bit closed off to new ideas." Another expat from Indonesia said the local work ethic was "very uptight and inflexible."

8. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

mffoto/Shutterstock

Vancouver, one of Canada's biggest cities, is the only North American city on the worst-rated list.

According to InterNations' survey, 69% of expats said the cost of living was too high, and more than 50% said their household income was not enough to live comfortably. 

Almost 40% are unhappy with their social life in the city. 

"It can be hard to enter a social circle which is already established," one expat from New Zealand told InterNations.

7. Milan, Italy
Milan Piazza Del Duomo.
Milan Piazza Del Duomo.

Comezora/Getty Images

Milan is the second Italian city on the worst-rated list.

According to InterNations' survey, more than 50% of expats said they were unhappy with the city's air quality and 66% of respondents said they find the local bureaucracy difficult to deal with.

Around 30% of expats also indicated that they feel that they are underpaid for their work. According to the data site Salary Expert, the average annual salary in Milan is 41,593 euros, or around $43,000.

"Finding a job is so hard, and the salaries are so low," an Iranian expat told InterNations.

6. Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg Germany

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Hamburg, a city in northern Germany, is another European city making the worst-rated list — and it might be because expats have a difficult time fitting in.

Some 81% of survey respondents indicated that they find hard to make friends in the city. 

"It takes very long to be accepted as a 'friend' of any order," one Australian expat told InterNations.

5. Hong Kong
Victoria harbour at morning, Hong Kong
Victoria harbour, Hong Kong

Fei Yang/Getty Images

Hong Kong, a special autonomous region in southeastern China, is one of two Asian cities in the bottom 10.

Some 46% of respondents said the city offers no room for creativity in the local business culture, and more than half said they felt stifled — 56% indicated they could not openly express their opinions.

There's also the matter of money: 68% of expats surveyed indicated that the cost of living is too high. An apartment that's smaller than 200 square feet costs around 25,512 Hong Kong dollars, or $3,270 to rent for a month, according to the South China Morning Post, citing Midland Realty's data.

"Accommodation, healthcare, and international schooling­ — all contribute to the elevated costs," InterNations wrote in its city guide. "It is considered to be one of the most expensive places for expatriates to live in," it added.

4. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey.
Istanbul, Turkey.

Getty Images

Istanbul, the capital city of Turkey, is just one of several European cities rated badly by expats.

According to InterNations' survey, some 57% indicated that they perceived the Turkish economy negatively, and only 45% believe they are paid fair salaries. 

"Finding a job here is very difficult," one Cameroonian survey respondent told InterNations, adding that the work conditions are poor especially when the pay is put into consideration.

3. Paris, France
Paris skyline
The Paris skyline at sunset.

Getty Images

The majority of expats surveyed indicated that it's simply too expensive to live in the capital of France: Some 62% said the cost of living is too high. 

In addition, 58% of respondents indicated they find it hard to make local friends, and some 23% feel unsafe in the city. 

On the upside, expats feel that it's a great city for experience culture and nightlife.

"Life in Paris is romantic, and exciting, but it is also expensive," InterNations wrote in its city guide. "Daily amenities, and housing carry a heavy price tag in France's most populous city."

2. Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt

David C Tomlinson/ Getty Images

Frankfurt, a major financial hub in Germany, was ranked the second-worst city for expat living.

Some 70% of expats surveyed indicated that expensive housing and high cost of living were some of the factors that makes living in Frankfurt a bad choice. 

According to the survey, the city is also the worst when it comes to affordable public transportation, ranking last among 50 destinations. 

A public transportation ticket that's valid for a month costs 97.10 euros, or around $138, according to RMV, Germany's transport association.

1. Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg
Cityscape of Johannesburg, South Africa on February 18, 2010.

Reuters

According to InterNations' survey, Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is the worst city for expats.

Some 25% of respondents said they were unhappy with how unaffordable living the city is, and 39% indicated public transportation was an issue.

Safety appeared to be an issue for expats too — 62% of those surveyed said they felt unsafe. 

"Johannesburg can be a dangerous place, even by South African standards," InterNations wrote on its expat guide to the city. "You will surely not be under constant threat at all times, but you should be aware of the potential dangers," the guide read.

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