Some 64 countries were ranked by 20,259 participants from around the globe in the annual Expat Insider survey by Internations.
The survey looks at the “best and worst places for expats” to live judged on several criteria such as quality of life, ease of settling in, personal finance and work and family life.
In the overall ranking France was placed a lowly 42nd out of 64, just above Ireland and just below Hong Kong. Taiwan topped the list, with Kuwait coming last as apparently the worst country to live in for expats or immigrants as many foreign citizens living abroad prefer to be referred as.
The reason why France appears to struggle in the rankings is a lot do with its poor score when it comes to “ease of settling in”.
It was ranked 52 out of 64 countries in a category where respondents were asked to judge the country on friendliness, ease of making friends, feeling at home and language, in other words how well you can settle in if you don' t speak French.
France scored poorly on all categories but in particular the language aspect.
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It seems foreign citizens living in France continue to struggle with the French language and find it hard to settle when they are not fluent.
Only 14% of foreigners in France agree that it's easy to live in the country without speaking the language compared to 45 percent globally.
That low score was enough to see it ranked 61 out of 64 worldwide in the language category, in other words the task of mastering French was a major drawback to settling in for respondents.
“If I was fluent in French, then my life would be far easier!” said one Canadian respondent who was perhaps stating the obvious.
The survey also had this to say:
“Not only does French — the language — affect expats, but the French — the people — aren’t always particularly helpful, it seems. A Danish expat says that “the French culture is very different, and the French are often not very welcoming”, a view reflected in the 2019 ranking: France has dropped 14 places to 43rd out of 64 for the ease of getting used to the local culture.”
BUT…. France is a good country to get sick in
France also suffered in the rankings in other areas. It dropped 16 places in the category of political stability, no doubt linked to the yellow vest protests and it also scored badly for career prospects for expats.
France did however score highly in certain categories, not least health.
No one wants to get sick anywhere, but if if you do need medical care, France is a very good country for it. It ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, for the quality of healthcare and its affordability.
The price of education also rated very highly. Nearly four out of five expats with children (78 percent) believe that education is affordable in their new country of residence, in comparison to just under half worldwide (49 percent). France ranks 5th out of 36 countries in terms of the affordability of education in 2019.
Mind you, raising a family in France isn’t always easy. Respondents found that it can actually be quite unfriendly at times. France places 31st out of 36 countries in terms of a friendly attitude towards families with children.
Money – and the lack of it – remains an issue in France. It is hard to get a full time contract in France as a foreigner and only about two out of five expats (42 percent) feel their disposable household income is more than enough to cover all their daily expenses. This is less than the global average.
Additionally, just two out of five working expats rate their current income as higher than back in their country of origin for a similar job or position.
But despite the downsides some 64 percent of respondents in France said moving to the country had made them happier, compared to 61 percent globally.