The best cities to work and live in right now

 ·25 Sep 2022

As more people look to move abroad, whether for career purposes, or a change of culture and life experience, some areas can make the process of assimilating easier than others.

International language company Preply said that since 2013, the number of expats worldwide has grown by 5.8% each year.

South Africa is not excluded from this trend with Bloomberg reporting that about half of South Africa’s top earners and university graduates are considering emigration as citizens lose faith in the country’s future, citing a survey by the Social Research Foundation.

Out of 3,204 registered voters the Johannesburg-based research group surveyed in July, 53% of university graduates and 43% of those who earned more than R20,000 ($1,138) a month may leave the country, according to the findings. Overall, 23% of those surveyed said they may look to live in another country.

The latest Preply Global Expat Index ranks 60 of the most popular destinations on 11 relevant relocation metrics, including the average monthly salary, the area’s safety, the monthly cost of living, and more.

According to Preply, the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is the best city to live and work in as an expat. Tbilisi in Georgia follows in second, with Lisbon in third place.

  1. Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
  2. Tbilisi – Georgia
  3. Lisbon – Portugal
  4. Dubai – UAE
  5. Bangkok – Thailand
  6. Prague – Czech Republic
  7. Madrid – Spain
  8. Barcelona – Spain
  9. Alicante – Spain
  10. Montreal – Canada

With an overall expat relocation score of 6.62, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia ranks as the best city for expats, said Preply.

Monthly living costs for relocators in Malaysia’s most significant city amount to around £903, and with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom property in the city centre being £363 – it leaves plenty of disposable income leftover to enjoy all that Kuala Lumpur has to offer, said Preply.

The company outlined the below expenses:

Business professionals and remote workers will also appreciate Kuala Lumpur’s affordable coworking spaces, with the average cost being £76 per month, the lowest out of the top 20 cities in our ranking.

Despite this, the city’s internet speed is among the slowest in our ranking at just 11 Mbps.

Georgia’s Tbilisi

Preply reported that Georgia’s Tbilisi is the second best city for expats to relocate to but is more expensive for expats compared to Kuala Lumpur, with the average person bringing home a monthly salary of £372 after tax and a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costing around £580.

“Food is more expensive too, with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costing an average of £7.38.”

However, Tbilisi is one of the safer cities in our ranking, with a city safety index of 74.5 on a scale of 0-120 (a high score means the city is very safe), said Preply.

“This is important for all expats, especially those who are relocating with young families.”

Lisbon in Portugal

Lisbon ranks third overall, with a higher cost of living (£1,367) and average rent cost (​​£865) than the two cities ranked above it and an average salary of £959, said Preply.

Internet speeds are much faster in Lisbon at 29 Mbps – which is great for remote workers who need a high-speed connection to work.

The lively city also boasts 476 activities to enjoy in the local area, such as city tours and river cruises. In terms of safety, Lisbon has a city safety index score of 70.87 out of 120, so it’s one of the safer destinations for expats in our ranking.

Portugal has become a hotspot for South African expats, with its Golden Visa programme accepting new applications.

The Golden Visa Residence Programme (GRPP) was established in Portugal in 2012 with the goal of promoting real estate investment and economic expansion. In exchange for making a sizable investment in the nation, the program grants eligible candidates the opportunity to reside in the EU.

Read: South Africa unlikely to avoid the grey list: experts

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