The Best & Worst Countries For Making Friends Might Help You Figure Out Where You Should Put Down Roots

Nomads, jetsetters, and general adventurers, lend me your ears: If your explorations are taking you overseas, you would be wise to know which countries are most welcoming of expatriates. Luckily, we now have a list of the best countries for making friends (and the worst), thanks to InterNations, which recently produced the Expat Insider 2016 report — one of the largest expat surveys in the world. The report details the best and worst places for expats in general, taking into consideration specific factors like working abroad, family life, personal finances, the cost of living, quality of life, and ease of settling in — of which friends are undoubtedly a huge part.  


A total of 67 countries were ranked from best to worst using the responses of more than 14,000 participants from 174 nationalities and 191 countries or territories. The final results reveal areas that foreigners are more than welcome — and places they might want to avoid. All categories considered, the big winner, the creme de la creme, was Taiwan, followed by Malta, Ecuador, and Mexico — making these four counties the top destinations for expats. Qatar, Italy, and Tanzania, meanwhile, were ranked the lowest. 

Not going to lie: My personal interest was mostly in the "ease of settling in" category; it's within this section where you learn the most about how individual countries take to expats, generally speaking. This category was based on four separate factors: Feeling welcome, friendliness, finding friends, and language. The United States received an ease of settling in rank of 21 — ranking 17th in feeling welcome, 25th in friendliness, 35th in finding friends, and 13th in language. So, we're not the reigning champs, but we're definitely not the least friendly, either. 

Read on to learn the top five best and worst countries for making friends. (You can see the full report here.)

The Best Countries For Making Friends: 

1. Mexico

Mexico takes the gold, ranking second in feeling welcome, fourth in friendliness, first in finding friends, and 16th in language. Way to go, Mexico.

2. Costa Rica

Second place is still fabulous. And having ranked fourth in feeling welcome, third in friendliness and finding friends, and 12th in language, Costa Rica is a great place for expats to be. 

3. Uganda

Uganda was not far behind, placing 22nd in feeling welcome, but making up for it with second in friendliness, ninth in finding friends, and fourth in language.

4. Malta

Malta proved to be some stiff competition, coming in first for feeling welcome. Its rank was brought down slightly due to a 17 in friendliness and a 21 in language; but a two in finding friends helped bump their overall rank.

5. New Zealand

Third in feeling welcome, eighth in friendliness, 17th in finding friends, and fifth in language put New Zealand in fifth place overall for ease of settling in. 

And now, for the worst countries for making friends. Let's be clear that this isn't to say these are terrible countries or you should never visit them. This is just what the InterNations report had to say, and, well, do with it what you will. 

The Worst Countries For Making Friends:

1. Kuwait

Overall, Kuwait came in last place in the overall category of ease of settling in. It placed 66th in feeling welcome, 67th in friendliness, and 65th in finding friends; but their ranking of 34th in language is a pleasant surprise!

2. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia came in dead last in feeling welcome, 66th in friendliness, 61st in finding friends, and 40th in language. Travelers, you've been warned.

3. Denmark

With a 64 in feeling welcome, 60 in friendliness, 67 in finding friends, and 50 in language, Denmark was ranked third to last in overall ease of settling in.

4. Switzerland

I was bummed to see Switzerland pop up, because I've always heard great things about it. Switzerland ranked 58 in feeling welcome, 64 in friendliness, 63 in finding friends, and 47 in language. 

5. Norway

With a 63 in feeling welcome and friendliness, a 66 in finding friends, and a 37 in language, Norway found itself ranked 63 overall. 

Images: Charlie StinchcombRuss Bowling, kansasphoto, DFID - UK Department for International Development, Berit Watkin, Tom Hall, Snap, Francisco Anzola, Nelson L., Francisco Antunes, Moyan Brenn/Flickr

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