Mexico Life
InterNations meetup in Guadalajara Expats and Mexicans pause to enjoy a view of the city during an InterNations-sponsored hike atop Guadalajara’s Colli volcano.

You’ve probably seen their survey, but just who is InterNations?

John Pint meets Guadalajara members of the expat organization and learns how it got started

InterNations is the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad. It has 4.6 million members in 420 cities all over the planet, and every year since 2014, it has polled its global community on subjects dear to the hearts of all expatriates: which country is friendliest? Where will I find the best weather, the best working conditions, the best food? Where will my money go the farthest?

This year, InterNations founders Philipp von Palto and Malete Zeeck wrote in the introduction to their poll that the questionnaire’s methodology has been revised to show “how expats navigate everyday life abroad, from entering a country to dealing with potential obstacles such as the language barrier.”

“For someone looking for that fresh start in another country, the topics [the poll] covers — housing, language, bureaucracy, and digital life — are some of the most important and most urgent concerns, especially during the relocation period,” the introduction said. “It is also vital information that is often hard to come by if you don’t live in this specific location yet.”

If you are one of those people on the point of moving abroad — but without an exact destination — you may want to download the Expat Insider 2022 survey report, which is based on the opinions of 11,970 respondents to the poll, representing 177 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories around the world.

Criteria used in InterNations global poll on expat life
This adapted chart shows topics included in the 2022 Expat Insider survey.

The people offering their opinion for the Expat Insider survey are InterNations members. The unique organization came into existence when Facebook was in its infancy and the first iPhones were just rolling off the assembly line. It began in the days when a stranger in a strange land might find himself or herself seriously isolated and homesick.

Founded in 2007 in Munich by three friends — Malte Zeeck, Christian Leifeld and Philipp von Plato — the idea for InterNations started out as Zeeck’s personal dream, as far as I can tell. His job as a journalist frequently took him to far-off corners of the world where he often felt like a fish out of water, unable to find things, not understanding local systems, and, especially, not being connected to anyone.

He began to dream of an international network that would help people find expats who already knew their way around, who could help a newcomer learn the ins and outs of a new country and a new city. So, Zeeck quit his job and followed his dream, and the result is InterNations, which now has more than four and a half million members all around the world.

This begs the question: where do these 4.5 million people think is the best place in the world to live? Well, in 2022, the InterNations community voted Mexico the world’s best country for expats.

Respondents to the organization’s annual poll said expatriates find it extremely easy to get settled in Mexico and are happy with their personal finances.

Overwhelmingly, respondents told InterNations that they are delighted by the friendliness of Mexicans and find it easy to make friends among them. In fact, 28% of those polled say they have mainly local friends, which is 11 percentage points more than the global average (17%).

“Mexicans are very friendly people and eager to help when you have a problem,” an expat from Armenia told InterNations.

A respondent from the United States noted, “When you make friends with a Mexican, you have a friend for life.”

InterNations gathering in Guadalajara
Members of Guadalajara’s 2000-strong InterNations community gather for brunch at Le Bistro Restaurant.

Mexico comes out second in the organization’s Personal Finance Index, just behind Vietnam, and most Mexpats are happy with their financial situation as well as the general cost of living and the affordability of housing. All in all,  Mexico shows a top performance for every rating factor that the Expat Insider survey is based on.

Here are the top 10 best countries for expats to live, according to the 2022 InterNations results:

  1. Mexico
  2. Indonesia
  3. Taiwan
  4. Portugal
  5. Spain
  6. United Arab Emirates
  7. Vietnam
  8. Thailand
  9. Australia
  10. Singapore

And which country do InterNations members consider the very worst in the world for expats? This dubious honor goes to Kuwait, which not only ranks last in the Expat Insider 2022 survey overall but also in the bottom 10 for each index.

Kuwait is considered worst in the quality of life and ease of settling in criteria. For example, expats are unhappy with the natural environment and feel they cannot openly express their opinions. They also perceive the local residents as unfriendly and rate their social life negatively.

In case you were wondering, here are the 10 countries that were at the bottom of the list this year, starting with the least bad and proceeding down to the bottom:

  • No. 43: Malta
  • No. 44: Italy
  • No. 45: Turkey
  • No. 46: South Africa
  • No. 47: Japan
  • No 48: Luxembourg
  • No. 49: Cyprus
  • No. 50: Hong Kong
  • No. 51: New Zealand
  • No. 52: Kuwait

Not all members of InterNations are foreigners, by the way. The organization also welcomes locals, especially those with a global outlook. In an article in The Copenhagen Voice, author Mucilianu Cristina asked a Dane why she had decided to become a member of InterNations Copenhagen.

InterNations get-together in Jakarta, Indonesia
An InterNations get-together in Jakarta, Indonesia. The organization has close to 5 million members worldwide. InterNations

“She said that she had traveled outside of Denmark for many years, and upon returning there, she felt that she no longer could relate to the Danish mentality,” Cristina explains. “She felt that most Danes had a narrow-minded perspective on anything that was different from the Danish culture and society. Once she connected to InterNations, her world opened up again, and she had access to diverse and well-traveled foreigners within her own country.”

What impressed The Copenhagen Voice the most was that this Danish woman had found some of her dearest friends through InterNations.

Want to meet some of those expats who love Mexico so much? There are InterNations communities in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Puebla, Cancún and Monterrey. Just go to their website, InterNations.org, and sign up. You can become a Basic Member free of charge and find out about their next get-together in your area.

The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, since 1985. His most recent book is Outdoors in Western Mexico, Volume Three. More of his writing can be found on his blog.

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