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The Top 13 Cities to Live and Work Abroad

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The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom has reached 3.7% as of November 2022 — the lowest it has been in the last fifty years. But a steady market situation and stable economy do not always equal great job satisfaction. Even though top cities in the UK offer plenty of career opportunities, sometimes we just need a change of scenery. If you feel like exploring some greener (and often, times warmer) pastures abroad, here is the list of the top 13 cities to live and work in — based on data from over a thousand ex-pat and immigrant surveys conducted in 2022 and 2021.

#1 Valencia, Spain

As of late 2022, Valencia ranked the highest on life and work comfort, according to ex-pats who live there. Over 80% of respondents stated that they are happy with life in general, the cost of living, and medical healthcare. One of the greatest things about Valencia is that it maintains a careful balance between a megapolis and a small town. With its slightly under one-million population, it has enough city buzz and work opportunities, but it’s not too overcrowded to make getting from one district to another a living nightmare.

#2 Porto, Portugal

In the 2022 questionnaire, Porto did not perform as well as in 2021, but it is still one of the top cities with the fastest-growing labour market. Besides, its mild climate, plenty of sunny days, and buzzing nightlife (not to mention truly stunning sceneries and architecture) have not gone anywhere in just one year between these two surveys. 

#3 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai may not be for everyone, but it’s hard to dispute this city’s wealth and economic growth rate. The cost of living here is high, of course, but the local salaries are even higher. This buzzing megapolis with over 3 million residents is one of the modern wonders of the world, and it has what it takes to offer a little bit of everything to anyone.

#4 Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva is one of the top financial destinations in the world, with plenty of employment opportunities in this area. It is a relatively small town, with roughly 200,000 residents, but you would not always say so with the steady influx of tourists. Located close to the French border, it has plenty of picturesque sights and features a stunning combination of historic and modern buildings.

#5 Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is another huge megapolis on our list, with over 9 million population and thousands of employment opportunities. When it comes to life quality, it is a vibrant and buzzing hub that generally makes ex-pats feel very welcome. In last year’s survey, 84% of respondents stated that they are happy with their life, while 69% noted that making friends in Mexico is very easy.

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#6 Prague, Czech Republic

The capital of the Czech Republic has a long and impressive history, which is reflected not only in the city’s architecture but also in its cuisine, infrastructure, and local traditions. Located right in the centre of Europe, this city is welcoming to ex-pats and immigrants alike, while Prague’s economy alone makes up a quarter of the Czech Republic’s entire GDP. Also, the quality of life in the Czech Republic outranks the UK and US, so this destination is definitely worth checking out.

#7 Lisbon, Portugal

Another Portuguese destination on our list is Lisbon. With its relatively small population of roughly half a million, long history, welcoming climate, and adequate living cost, Lisbon can offer the so-much-needed break from gloomy northern routine. The economy is striving, too — this is actually the wealthiest region in Portugal, accounting for 45% of the country’s GDP. And the cultural life is even more impressive.

#8 Calgary, Canada

Calgary may not be the most famous destination for foreigners, but in Canada, it is one of the best places to live and work in. This is the largest city in Alberta, with plenty of work opportunities, great living conditions, and an excellent healthcare system. For UK citizens, Canada is one of those countries that would not bring on a cultural shock, and according to recent research of Canadian cities by SignalHire, Calgary ranks fourth after such major hubs as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

#9 Dublin, Ireland

Well, Dublin is not the most exotic of places for UK residents, but maybe that’s just the point. Even though this is not the largest capital worldwide, with only 1,5 million residents, it is one of the best places for starting an international business. With so many foreigners flocking to the heart of Ireland, you will certainly enjoy a lot of company and an opportunity to work and mingle.

#10 Bangkok, Thailand

Digital nomads love Thailand for its warm climate, buzzing nightlife, and very affordable cost of living. Bangkok is certainly the top destination in this country. It is also a very populous city, with over ten million residents, and a regular influx of tourists, so you will not have a problem mixing in. The sights and the architecture are pretty amazing, too. And 79% of survey responses in 2022 reported that they are happy with life quality in Bangkok.

#11 Basel, Switzerland

Basel is another Swiss town with plenty of career opportunities in different market segments. It’s even smaller than Geneva, with less than 200,000 residents, but like most Swiss towns, it is a cosy and quiet place to live. Its rich history and a handy location next to two national borders — French and German — will make it easy for you to explore three countries instead of just one.

#12 Madrid, Spain

Madrid is probably one of the safest capitals in Europe and is definitely a perfect destination for anyone interested in combining work and pleasure. The city is welcoming to ex-pats and immigrants, and its uniquely Spanish way of living will make sure every newcomer feels included. Long history, stunning architecture, comfortable pace of living, and very comfortable public transport infrastructure — what else could a newcomer hope for?

#13 Melbourne, Australia

Australia is not the top destination for nomads and ex-pats, but if that’s the country you’re interested in, start with Melbourne. It has proven to be one of the best cities in Australia as far as the work-life balance is concerned, and its economy has been growing steadily for decades. Melbourne actually ranks 32nd in the world as far as competitive finance is concerned. Also, its cultural life is very rich and has a little bit of everything to offer. Besides, as Australian cities go, Melbourne is an all-welcoming international hub where no one would ever feel excluded.

These are some of the top examples you can consider if you would like to explore life and career opportunities outside the UK. Still, keep in mind that this selection is based on surveys, which are always subjective. The simple fact that many people like working and living in a certain place does not necessarily mean the same logic would apply to you. Besides, a lot will depend on where you would like to work and what you can offer to the local employment market. So, if you have another country or city in mind — by all means, explore it! Your dream city can be a less popular spot, but that does not mean it’s going to be any less suitable for you and your life goals.

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