These Are The Worst Expat Destinations Around the Globe, Ditch Them For Mexico Instead

Aug 10, 2022

7 min read

With the ever-grown popularity of becoming an expat, it’s no surprise that choosing the wrong destination is one of the worst decisions that will affect your overall experience. During a survey conducted by InterNations’ Expat Insider 2021, it was found that around 47% of expats relocate to another country with their careers in mind.

In 1960 there were only 73 million expats in the world, since then this number has tripled and it’s reported that as of 2021 230 million people around the globe were expats. It’ll be interesting to see what the statistics will look like in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the working conditions of employees. Many people have discovered the fantastic benefits that come with working from home and now the possibilities for working from another country is endless. Therefore there'll be a considerable amount of Expats wondering where to start their journey.


What Exactly Is An Expat?

An Expat can be described as someone who chooses to live abroad for a certain period where they can still work and earn a salary. The average age of Expats is 43 years old. According to Pacific Prime, the statistics for expats are 53% male and 47% female. Interestingly, most expats are well-educated, 80% holding at least a bachelor's or postgraduate degree.

The Most Common Fields Expats Work In?

It can be noted that some of the fields expats choose to work in are:

  • Education 12%
  • IT 11%
  • Finance 8%
  • Manufacturing and Engineering 7%
  • Healthcare 6%
  • Advertising, Marketing, and communication 5%

Why is the digital nomad life so appealing?

Being an expat can have significant benefits, with two being determining your working hours and the luxury of choosing where to work. As long as you have reliable Wifi, you can be working while sipping a Margherita at a beach bar or one of your favorite cafés. Other times expats travel to a country and find a permanent job in a company in the area where they work - in those cases, you might not have so much work-life balance, but hey, you are still working in a completely different country than your home country.

What Are The World’s Worst Expat Destinations?

Choosing the perfect destination to work in as an expat can be described as one of the most important things to consider. Imagine packing up everything for a more desirable lifestyle, and you get there, which isn’t enjoyable! So, according to Expat Insider 2022, these are the worst destinations for expats in 2022:


This little town in Dubai is ranked the worst for the 8th time. According to this survey, Kuwait ranked last within these categories: quality of life, leisure options, personal happiness, travel, and transportation. At least 46% of expats report not feeling at home in this country, while 63% report that it was tough to make new friends. Most expats rely on the destination having a buzzing night and social life, but Kuwait doesn’t offer much nightlife or activities to keep you occupied. It is also reported that ex-pats are treated like second-class citizens, and it’s not uncommon to encounter extremely rude locals or even people cutting in line before you after you've waited for a significant amount of time.

Another significant part of your budget will rely on the cost of living, which is described as relatively expensive. You will pay a pretty penny for basic housing, clothing, and goods. Typical one-bedroom apartments outside the city center can start at 690$ while a mid-range meal for two at a restaurant will cost you around 60$.

When it comes down to it, the whole idea of being an expat is to be able to travel, and when the cost of living is that high, it might put a big damper on your budget.


New Zealand

It might be a surprise that one of the world's most popular tourist destinations is considered the 2nd worst destination for expats. This is all due to the highly unaffordable cost of living. About 75% of expats rated the cost of living negatively. The quality of life index got a mediocre score because transportation costs were extremely high, and New Zealand lacked the culture and nightlife that most expats hope for.

The recommended budget for an expat living in New Zealand is around 2100$. Gosh, that’s crazy! A basic one-bedroom apartment can cost around 1500$ - 2000$ per month, while a mid-range meal for two at a restaurant will cost you around 85$.

Although New Zealand is known for its significant beauty, pristine waters, and famous Lord of the Rings filming locations, the cost of living will significantly change from what you are accustomed to in your home country.


Hong Kong

Hong Kong is ranked as the 3rd worst expat destination in the world. Expat Insider 2022 determined that 68% of expats were highly dissatisfied with the high cost of living and oppressive work culture. A little furnished studio apartment can cost you around 2200$ and more, while a mid-range meal for two at a restaurant will cost you around 115$.

Hong Kong does offer a lot in terms of entertainment and nightlife, and you will be able to meet other expats quite effortlessly. But you decide if your budget will allow a night out after paying your monthly rent!


Ditch These Destinations And Rather Explore The Most Favoured Expat Destination Mexico

Mexico is ranked as the best Expat Destination for 2022. This is due to the comfortable living expenses and the fact that it is straightforward to ease into life as an expat in Mexico. This can be attributed to the fact that 90% of expats found the locals to be amiable and easy to befriend. Notably, 91% of expats report being extremely happy with their life in Mexico. According to the Mexican Government, around 1.1 million expatriates lived in Mexico as of 2020.

The housing cost in Mexico could cost you around 450$ for a furnished one-bedroom apartment. The cost can significantly vary on where you decide to stay. It comes as no surprise that Mexico boasts fantastic nightlife. Whether you enjoy partying, going out to a nice dinner, or a movie, there will always be something for you to do. The next thing that excites most expats is the fantastic cuisine Mexico has to offer, and you can expect to pay around 7$ for a meal in a restaurant, ad a fast-food order will only set you back at 5$. On top of that, you will be able to find fresh ingredients everywhere, making it easier and cheaper to cook your food at home.

The best neighborhoods to stay in Mexico for expats:

  • Puerto Vallarta - an expat ocean paradise location
  • San Miguel de Allende - a culture-rich haven for expats
  • Mérida - the typical city, live for ex-pats

What are some most-do attractions when in Mexico?

  • If you’re into sightseeing and exploring ancient ruins, Mexico is the best place for that. You would want to add the Mayan Ruins and TemploMayor to the top of your to-do list.
  • Visit the famous pyramid in Mexico called Chicken Itza
  • Experience the famous day of the dead festival in Mexico
  • Swim in one of the gorgeous sinkholes your eyes have ever seen called Cenote.
  • Party in Guadalajara

These are only a handful of things Mexico has to offer.


Would You Still Try Your Luck In One Of The Worst Expat Destinations Or Are You Heading Straight To Mexico?

Being an expat isn’t always as whimsical as people portray it, especially when you choose the wrong destination and then suffer because of that. Financial suffering can put a significant damper on your experience as an expat, and therefore you must closely examine your potential earnings with the destination's cost of living. Remember that there will always be unforeseen costs you didn’t think about - one of them being visas. Although visas can sometimes be very confusing, it is one of the most important things you will have to look into if your destination requires a visa. Remember that Atlys is the only way to get a visa effortlessly and make sure to have a look at Do You Need A Visa To Go To Mexico: Mexico Visa Requirements And Passport Requirements. So will I see you in Mexico, expat friends?

Photo References:


Kim Kim


Nations Online

Absolutely French

Written By: Shannon Reeler
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

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