But making friends abroad is even harder. ... Like dating, making friends is much easier when youre not in a contrived situation of polite conversation. Plus, meeting people through a shared interest or history means you already have things in common. The foundations of friendship are already there.
Should I have many friends?Friends bring more happiness into our lives than virtually anything else. Friendships have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness. Good friends relieve stress, provide comfort and joy, and prevent loneliness and isolation. Developing close friendships can also have a powerful impact on your physical health.
Finding friends is one of the first things expats think about when moving abroad. When you have to leave your friends and family behind, it can cause a sense of displacement and loneliness.
Regardless of your destination, having a genuine and supportive friendship is important in helping you settle in. Yet, globally only 47% of expats find it easy to make new friends abroad according to the Expat Insider 2020 survey — a global survey conducted annually by InterNations. The Best Countries for Making Friends Mexico Having never dropped below second place in the Ease of Settling In Is it easy to make friends abroad? of the Expat Insider survey, expats name Mexico as the best country for finding friends for the third year in a row.
In fact, five in seven expats 71% agree that making local friends is easy, a significantly higher percentage the global average 42%. However, expats can also enjoy the local culture on a daily basis: music is everywhere, played by mariachis and bandas, while markets and museums exhibit the endless artistic and historic heritage of Mexico.
The country also seems to offer a great quality of life to people living there. About nine in ten expats in Mexico 91% claim to feel happy with their lives in general, compared to 76% globally. It is no secret that warm weather, beautiful sites and wildlife, as well as being surrounded by wonderful people, can vastly improve your life.
Bahrain Bahrain may be the smallest country in the Middle East, but the island nation certainly has a lot to offer. The extensively diverse and welcoming population is much loved, with 84% of expats describing the general population as friendly, and more than three-quarters 77% saying that it is easy to settle into the local culture.
Bahrain is a great destination to move Is it easy to make friends abroad? if you have a family: 95% of expat parents describe the local attitudes to families with children as positive. The island also offers a wide range of leisure activities for kids to enjoy, from water parks to entertainment centers. If you find learning a new language daunting, there is also no need to worry about a language barrier: 93% of expats find navigating life in Bahrain easy without speaking the local language, compared to 54% globally.
This country is also popular among expats, as over four in five 83% claim to feel at home in the Ecuadorian culture. But feeling at home only comes naturally if settling in and making new friends is Is it easy to make friends abroad?.
What is more, Ecuador is the happiest country with 86% of expats being satisfied with life in general, compared to 76% globally. Colombia With 10% of the Amazon Rainforest in its territory, Colombia is a wildlife hotspot like Ecuador. However, these natural resources are not the only Is it easy to make friends abroad? this country offers: it ranks among the top 10 countries for finding friends for the fourth year in a row.
Colombia is among the favorites of expats when it comes to settling in abroad with nearly four in five expats 78% finding it easy to get used to the local culture. The social key points of said culture seem to be a relaxed lifestyle and spending quality time with your loved ones. No wonder expats find this easy to get used to! This attitude extends to foreign residents with 85% of expats stating that they are generally welcomed with open arms, and even 41% say they could not be friendlier.
Panama The lifestyle and people in Panama have convinced many expats of living there. This country ranks first in the Personal Happiness subcategory, and especially excels here with over four in five expats 82% being happy with their life in general. Finding friends is a walk in the park according to 64% of expats, compared to 47% globally.
Integrating in this community also seems to be an easy task, as 64% say making local friends is easy in Panama and 79% confirm feeling at home in the local culture. Also, out of the expats that found love in Panama or moved there with their partner, an astonishing 94% confirm feeling happy in their relationship. This also makes Panama the best destination worldwide for relationships — must be the beautiful natural scenery and the endless variety of romantic activities!
The Easiest And Toughest Countries To Make New Friends Abroad
The Bottom 10 Countries for Making Friends On the other end of the ranking, Denmark 58thKuwait 57thSweden 56thNorway 55thSwitzerland 53rdand Finland 51st Is it easy to make friends abroad?, have always ranked in the bottom ten of the Finding Friends subcategory. In fact, Japan 54th is the only country joining the bottom ten for the first time in 2020, with South Korea 52ndthe Netherlands 50thand Austria 49th completing the list of the ten worst countries for making friends.
When moving to a new country, expats are generally concerned about whether they will easily integrate and be accepted into a new community. So, when locals are generally unfriendly to foreign residents, it can be daunting for expats who are trying to feel at home abroad. When making new friends is proven a challenge, it makes the process of settling into a country more difficult because having good friends can provide you with support and a sense of belonging.
That is why 48% in Kuwait, and 40% of expats in Denmark and Sweden also struggle to feel at home in the local culture. While the global average of expats who are unhappy with the general friendliness of the population is only 17%, a much higher percentage of expats in Nordic, and German-speaking countries, as well as Kuwait, have reported unfriendliness towards expats.
Additionally, expats in Kuwait find the locals even more unfriendly towards foreign residents 50%followed by Austria 38% and Czechia 36%. The Difficulty of Making Friends in Nordic Countries The dark and long winters are not the only thing that the Nordic countries have in common. Denmark — the worst ranked in the Finding Friends subcategory — as well as Sweden, Norway, and Finland make it Is it easy to make friends abroad?
for expats to find friends.
9 Difficulties of Living in a Foreign Country You Must Overcome
More than half of expats in Denmark 58% consider making friends challenging, and 30% say that they could not have struggled with it more. Sweden follows, with more than five in eight expats living there 63% also having difficulties with finding friends.
It is unclear if these results are heavily linked to very sparse sunlight and cold winters, but 50% of expats in Denmark and 38% of expats in Sweden complain about the local climate and weather conditions. The Lack of Friendliness in German Speaking Countries Apart from the language and geographical proximity, Austria and Switzerland also have in common that they are difficult places for expats to make friends.
More than half of expats in Switzerland 54% share this concern, as well as 44% in Austria. Expats in German-speaking countries are also unhappy with the general friendliness of the population — this is the case for 32% in Austria, as well as 26% of expats in Switzerland. A Long Way to Go for Kuwait Coming in last in the overall ranking, Kuwait is the least favorite destination for expats according to the Expat Insider 2020 survey.
When it comes to making friends, it occupies the 57th position out of 58 countries, ranking only slightly better than Denmark in this subcategory. This article was co-written by Natalia Ceballos and Siham Abdullahi. Natalia is a Media Production student at Bournemouth University, and enjoys travelling and meeting new places and people. Siham Abdullahi is an International Development with Economics student at the University of Bath, and she loves being outdoors, climbing, and Is it easy to make friends abroad?.
Both worked as interns in the Public Relations Team at InterNations.