Expat City Ranking 2017: Auckland Outranks Sydney as the Best Destination for Expats


Auckland ranks 30 places ahead of Sydney in this year’s Expat City Ranking: while the city in New Zealand lands on an impressive 14th place out of 51 cities worldwide, the Australian one ranks among the bottom 10 (44th). In fact, Auckland outperforms Sydney by far in terms of getting settled, as well as regarding urban work life.

However, both cities rank poorly for their high cost of living and the lack of affordable housing, as the so-far unpublished Expat City Ranking 2017 reveals. The ranking is based on data collected in the annual Expat Insider survey, conducted by InterNations, the largest expat community worldwide. With nearly 13,000 respondents living and working abroad, Expat Insider 2017 is one of the most extensive expat studies worldwide.

Apart from offering an in-depth analysis of expat life in 51 cities, the survey ranks them by a variety of factors from the areas quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, as well as finance and housing. According to all these rating factors, the top 10 cities for expats are Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Basel, and Frankfurt am Main.

Out of 51 cities worldwide, Auckland leads the list of destinations where expats feel the most welcome, while Sydney trails far behind in 17th place: while more than eight in ten expats living in Auckland (82%) feel at home in the city, only 61 percent agree in Sydney, which is even slightly below the global average (64%). One of the reasons for this difference might be that only about half the expats in the Australian city (55%) are satisfied with their social life, compared to more than three-quarters in Auckland (76%). Moreover, only every other expat in Sydney (51%) finds it easy to make new friends there, with one US American expat complaining that it is “hard to make sincere friendships”. This might be connected to the fact that only about two-thirds of expats in Sydney (65%) consider the local residents friendly, in contrast to more than nine in ten in Auckland (92%).

Another reason for Auckland’s high ranking is the city’s superior result for working abroad: 80 percent of expats are satisfied with their working hours, as opposed to only 59 percent in Sydney. Moreover, local career opportunities are rated positively by 68 percent of expats in Auckland, but 55 percent in Sydney. Last but not least, about three-quarters of expats in Auckland (76%) say they are overall satisfied with their job, compared to 57 percent in Sydney.

Expat Life in Both Auckland and Sydney Comes at a Price

While Auckland triumphs over Sydney in many ways, they also have several negative aspects in common: both places perform poorly with regard to local cost of living, with Auckland ranking 38th and Sydney 49th out of 51 cities. Only about one in eight expats in Sydney (12%) is satisfied with their living expenses, and just about two in ten (22%) rate them favourably in Auckland. Moreover, about one in four expats in Auckland (27%) are not satisfied with their financial situation, and this increases to more than one out of three in Sydney (32%). Covering daily costs seems to be an issue, too, especially in Auckland, where only 65 percent state that their disposable income is enough or more than enough to cover everything they need (vs. 77% worldwide). Housing seems to be an especially strong drawback for expats living in the two cities, which rank among the global bottom 10 for this factor. A mere eight percent of expats in Auckland are satisfied with the affordability of local housing. At ten percent, this share is barely higher in Sydney, with one British expat saying that “housing affordability is unattainable for all but the wealthiest of expats”. On the bright side, however, expats in both cities enjoy a pleasant climate and a range of leisure options, with about nine in ten expats in Auckland (92%) and Sydney (88%) being satisfied with the latter.

Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, and Amsterdam top the list of the best cities in the world for expats.


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