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Spain ranked world's fourth best country for foreigners to live in

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Spain ranked world's fourth best country for foreigners to live in
People walk and cycle alongside the Guadalquivir river in Seville. Photo: Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura/Pexels

New rankings have put Spain in the top 10 countries in the world for foreigners to live in, maintaining its position head and shoulders above its European neighbours, which fared far worse in foreigners' views.

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New rankings have revealed that Spain is the world's fourth best country for foreigners to live in.

This is according to the 'Expat Insider 2024' rankings put together by InterNations, which ranks countries on various criteria including quality of life, personal finance, working abroad and ease of settling in.

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Spain was the only European country in the top 10, meaning it maintains its long-held position as Europe's most popular place for foreigners to move to. The next highest European country on the list was Iberian neighbours Portugal, which came in at 15th.

The full top 10 was: Panama, Mexico, Indonesia, Spain, Colombia, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines, and UEA. Only 53 countries were evaluated in the standings.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The financial aid and tax cuts for people who move to a village in Spain

Spain's position seems fairly self-explanatory. It has been a desirable destination for foreigners, whether it be on holiday or long-term, for decades. The climate, world-class public health system, the relaxed pace of life and affordable cost of living were all factors in the ranking, the study indicates.

Spain consistently ranks among the top countries in the Quality of Life Index, as well as topping the subcategory for leisure options for its culture and nightlife offerings and outdoor sports.

What foreigners valued worst about living in Spain was employment opportunities and the job market, where it came in 27th place, its worst position in any of the category rankings.

The 2024 ranking follows months of anti-tourism protests in Spain and a growing unease among Spaniards about the socioeconomic impact of mass tourism.

At times, the anti-tourism sentiment is mixed up in frustration with digital nomads and wealthy foreigners moving to Spain, which can at times verge on xenophobia or 'turismofobia', some suggest.

For some locals, these sorts of international rankings are unwelcome and are partly why Spain has experienced such an increase in tourism in recent years.

READ ALSO: 'Out of our neighbourhood!': Barcelona residents decry mass tourism

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Many Spaniards (and indeed many more long-term, integrated foreigners living in Spain) would also contest the use of the term 'expat' altogether, and instead argue that expats are immigrants like anyone else. For some, the term has classist or post-colonial undertones and is only applied to immigrants from white, western countries.

According to InterNations methodology: "The target audience included all kinds of 'expats', from international retirees and self-made expats who looked for work abroad to foreign assignees (i.e., employees sent on a corporate assignment abroad), and others who moved for a variety of reasons.

"A total of 12,543 expats participated in the survey, representing 175 nationalities living in 174 countries or territories worldwide," the website states.

In the 2023 rankings, for the first time Spanish cities took all three top spots. Málaga was first when it came to the world's best city for foreign residents, closely followed by Alicante in second and Valencia in third.

All three Spanish cities had top 10 ratings in categories such as Ease of Settling In, Quality of Life, and Personal Finance. They were all highlighted for their welcoming cultures, enjoyability, and affordability.

Málaga and Alicante also made it into the top 10 for "Expat Essentials" such as housing.

READ ALSO: Three cities in Spain voted world's best for foreign residents

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