Best Cities to Relocate: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Expats

Dubai Creek Harbour – Dubai – United Arab Emirates

In an age when crossing borders for a fresh career start or a better quality of life has become increasingly common, the decision of where to lay down new roots is more important than ever. The perfect city for relocation is a balance of many factors — from economic stability to cultural vibrancy. But how do we sift through the options to find the right match?

To guide your journey, we’ve relied on a comprehensive study that ranks cities based on key metrics such as safety rate, monthly cost of living, average salary, infrastructure, quality of life, and healthcare. Each city has been given a composite score reflecting its overall suitability for expatriates.

In this practical guide, we’ll explore why each top-ranking city has earned its place on the list and what it can offer you, the prospective expat. Get ready to journey through varied landscapes, from the luxurious deserts of Dubai to the historic streets of Tokyo, and discover where your next adventure should begin.

Dubai: A Synthesis of Opportunity and Luxury

As the frontrunner among relocation hotspots, Dubai commands attention with a leading composite score of 73.2. Prospective residents are drawn to its competitive average salary and unparalleled quality of life, a testament to the city’s allure that stretches well beyond its borders. Dubai’s exceptional safety record and state-of-the-art infrastructure make it a prime destination for expatriates seeking a blend of prosperity, stability, and comfort. 

Here’s what sets Dubai apart:

  1. Cultural Tapestry: Dubai welcomes a mosaic of traditions and lifestyles, creating a culturally rich environment that fosters both global connections and personal growth.
  2. Tax Benefits: The absence of personal income tax positions Dubai as an economic powerhouse, allowing individuals to enjoy the full extent of their earnings.
  3. Healthcare Excellence: State-of-the-art medical facilities and a repertoire of world-class healthcare professionals ensure that medical care in Dubai is second to none.
  4. Business Opportunities: Dubai’s reputation as a global business epicenter offers a fertile ground for career advancement and entrepreneurial innovation.
  5. Entertainment Galore: The city’s vibrant social scene presents a thrilling mix of luxury shopping experiences, pulsating nightlife, and a calendar brimming with high-profile events.
  6. Innovation Hub: With its forward-thinking approach to technology and infrastructure, Dubai attracts professionals eager to engage with innovative projects and cutting-edge developments.

Zurich: The Apex of Financial Success

With a close composite score of 73.1, Zurich stands out for its attractive average salary of $7,841 and unmatched living standards. These factors contribute to a quality of life that is both envied and aspired to globally, presenting a backdrop of elegance and financial growth.

Here are the traits that make Zurich stand out:

  1. Picturesque Landscapes: Surrounded by the majestic Swiss Alps and serene lakes, Zurich offers a panorama of natural wonders, complemented by abundant opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
  2. Educational Excellence: As home to some of the world’s premier educational institutions, Zurich is an optimal choice for families prioritizing top-tier education for their children.
  3. Sustainable Practices: Zurich’s extensive public transportation network and eco-friendly policies are a testament to its long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability.
  4. Cultural Vibrancy: With an array of world-class museums and festive events, Zurich pulsates with cultural and artistic expression, offering an enriching living experience.
  5. Safe Harbour: Low crime rates and political stability make Zurich a haven, providing tranquility and safety to its inhabitants in everyday life.
  6. Monetary Zenith: As the heart of a robust financial sector, Zurich’s economic stability is emblematic of its reputation as one of the world’s most reliable economies.

Abu Dhabi: The Serene Capital

Taking the third spot with a composite score of 70.1, Abu Dhabi melds modernity with tradition against a backdrop of security and affordability. The capital of the UAE appeals with its calm pace and luxurious amenities, attracting individuals and families in search of a balanced lifestyle.

Get to know the features that mark the singularity of Abu Dhabi:

  1. Opulent Living: With its enticing blend of high-end amenities and scenic beauty, including pristine beaches and lavish resorts, Abu Dhabi epitomizes luxurious living.
  2. Welcoming Environment: The city is renowned for its family-oriented ethos, featuring excellent educational institutions and a variety of recreational amenities tailored to families.
  3. Career Haven: Expansive career opportunities abound in Abu Dhabi’s flourishing finance, oil, and tourism industries, catering to ambitious professionals.
  4. Cultural Mosaic: The city’s vibrant past is showcased through its historical sites, museums, and traditional markets, reflecting a rich cultural heritage.
  5. Expatriate Hub: Abu Dhabi’s substantial expatriate community offers a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, easing the transition for new arrivals seeking camaraderie and cultural exchange. 6. Cultural and Leisure Activities: With iconic institutions like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and leisure hubs such as Yas Island, the city is a treasure trove of cultural and family-friendly pursuits.

Amsterdam: A Blend of Historic Charm and Modern Ease

Responsible travel in Amsterdam is a priority

Amsterdam, with a composite score of 69.2, enchants with its picturesque canals and robust quality of life. The city’s harmonious balance of urban living with nature, culture, and a thriving infrastructure invites those in search of an idyllic European lifestyle.

Discover what makes Amsterdam unique:

  1. Cycling Culture: The city’s extensive network of bike lanes and the ingrained cycling culture offer residents an eco-friendly and convenient way to traverse the charming streets.
  2. Progressive Spirit: Known for its liberal policies on social issues, Amsterdam leads with initiatives that prioritize LGBTQ+ rights, environmental care, and a comprehensive social safety net.
  3. Culinary Hotspot: Amsterdam’s culinary scene satisfies all palates, from cozy cafes with global menus to vibrant markets offering artisanal foods.
  4. Architectural Haven: The city’s rich history is mirrored in its stunning canals and well-preserved buildings, providing a daily journey through time for its inhabitants.
  5. Creative Core: As a nexus for the arts, Amsterdam boasts vibrant galleries, studios, and tech startups, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity.
  6. Inclusivity and Community: With its welcoming public spaces and community-driven events, Amsterdam promotes inclusivity and a high caliber of social interaction.

Vienna: Rhythm of Culture and Well-being

Vienna captures the fifth place with a composite score of 66.0, renowned for its exceptional living standards and top-notch healthcare. The Austrian capital – not as ultra-expensive as we think – envelops residents in a symphony of cultural wealth, historic architecture, and peaceful living conditions.

Here’s why Vienna stands out:

  1. Cultural Heart: Vienna thrives as Europe’s cultural heart, filled with illustrious museums, opera houses, and an enduring classical music scene.
  2. Life Quality Leader: Ranking consistently high in life quality surveys, Vienna excels in providing superior healthcare, education, and public services to all.
  3. Verdant Retreats: An array of parks and gardens throughout the city offers serene escapes for recreation and relaxation, promoting a balanced urban life.
  4. Coffee House Tradition: The legendary Viennese coffeehouses, with their inviting ambiance and delectable pastries, are corners of leisure that define the city’s social and culinary culture.
  1. Festive Celebrations: Vienna’s calendar is dotted with festive events, from enchanting Christmas markets to summer music festivals, fostering a communal and vibrant spirit year-round.
  2. Artistic Flourish: Vienna’s artistic legacy lives on, offering expatriates the chance to immerse themselves in a realm where classical arts meet contemporary creativity.

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Copenhagen: The Pinnacle of Green Sophistication

Copenhagen ranks sixth with a score of 65.9, exemplifying the pinnacle of sustainable urban living and refined sophistication. Its commitment to green initiatives, advanced infrastructure, and remarkable safety standards marks it as a model for future-focused urbanity.

Find out why Copenhagen is unlike any other:

  1. Eco-Innovative Design: Copenhagen is at the avant-garde of eco-friendly urban design, illustrated by its bike-friendly streets, commitment to renewable energy, and green construction practices.
  2. Work-Life Synergy: The city is a proponent of a healthy work-life balance, evidenced by its shorter work hours, progressive parental leave, and a focus on employee welfare.
  3. Design and Style Capital: With a rich tradition in design, Copenhagen exudes style in its everyday life—from chic interiors to cutting-edge architecture.
  4. Culinary Excellence: Award-winning restaurants, innovative food markets, and vibrant street food culture make Copenhagen a gastronome’s dream.
  5. Active Urban Life: The city invites residents to explore its scenic beauty, whether it’s kayaking in the harbor or enjoying its numerous parks and outdoor activities.
  6. Healthcare Paragon: The healthcare system in Copenhagen is lauded for comprehensive care and preventive health measures, safeguarding its residents’ well-being.

Singapore: Dynamic Gateway to Asia

Singapore takes the seventh spot with a score of 64.6, known for its outstanding safety and effective infrastructure. As a nexus of business and cultural activity, Singapore’s competitive salaries and commitment to public order offer a unique blend of opportunities for professionals.

Explore Singapore’s unique features:

  1. Strategic Connectivity: Its strategic location and leading transport facilities make Singapore a global hub, connecting people and businesses with ease.
  2. Cultural Mosaic: Celebrated for its cultural diversity, Singapore provides an enriching environment where various ethnicities and traditions converge.
  3. Urban Greenery: Renowned for its immaculate environment, Singapore is dotted with lush parks and gardens that complement the cityscape, affirming its reputation as a “Garden City.”
  1. Safe Haven: Stringent laws and vigilant law enforcement grant residents a secure and orderly lifestyle in one of the safest cities worldwide.
  2. Gastronomic Wonderland: A culinary delight, Singapore tantalizes taste buds with its myriad of food options ranging from affordable street fare at hawker centers to exquisite dining experiences led by celebrity chefs.
  3. Education and Talent Hub: With a focus on world-class education and professional development, Singapore is an epicenter for skill enhancement, drawing families and professionals eager to invest in their future.

Seoul: A Convergence of Heritage and Progress

In eighth place with a composite score of 62.6, Seoul captivates with its harmonious fusion of historic culture and ultramodern advancements. The city’s accessible healthcare, advanced infrastructure, and fervor for innovation make it a beacon of progress in East Asia.

Here’s what sets Seoul apart:

  1. Tech Prowess: As a global leader in electronics and digital advancements, Seoul’s technological landscape is a vibrant ecosystem fostering cutting-edge innovation.
  2. Cultural Dynamo: The city buzzes with a dynamic cultural scene, where traditional performances coexist with contemporary festivities like K-pop events, reflecting a society that embraces both past and present.
  3. Flavorful Journey: Seoul’s culinary offerings provide a feast for the senses, with an array of flavors that celebrate the depth of Korean gastronomy.
  4. Retail Paradise: Shoppers find their haven in Seoul, from avant-garde fashion districts to traditional markets teeming with crafts and goods.
  5. Transit Excellence: The city’s extensive public transport network is a hallmark of convenience, linking vibrant neighborhoods and making exploration a breeze.
  6. Historic and Modern Tapestry: Seoul’s skyline is punctuated with timeless architecture, from ancient palaces to modern skyscrapers, offering residents a living mosaic of Korea’s evolution.

Osaka: Cost-Effective Elegance in Japan’s Heartland

With a score of 62.3, Osaka stands out for its cost-effectiveness and superior quality of life. It offers the lowest cost of living among the ranked cities and reliable infrastructure, making it an enticing choice for a fiscally conscious yet culturally rich experience in Japan.

See what’s special about this Osaka:

  1. Gastronomic Haven: As Japan’s kitchen, Osaka’s street food and varied culinary scene tantalize with flavors unique to the region, such as the infamous takoyaki and savory okonomiyaki.
  1. Cultural Treasures: Historical landmarks like Osaka Castle and Shitennoji Temple, along with the lively Dotonbori district, provide a window into Japan’s rich history and contemporary allure.
  2. Welcoming Community: Known for their affability, the people of Osaka create a convivial atmosphere that resonates with friendliness, making it easy for expatriates to feel right at home.
  3. Vibrant Festivities: The city’s energetic atmosphere is amplified by its many events and festivals as well as the bright neon lights of its active nightlife, offering excitement at every corner.
  4. Strategic Position: Osaka’s central location within Japan allows for easy day trips to historic Kyoto, the port city of Kobe, and the ancient capital of Nara, ideal for explorers and history buffs.
  5. Authentic Charm: This city is celebrated not just for its affordability, but also for its genuine charm, reflected in the spirited nature of its people and a more relaxed pace compared to Tokyo’s hustle.

Tokyo: The Quintessence of High-Tech Elegance

Tokyo rounds off the top ten with a composite score of 62.2, epitomizing the fusion of cutting-edge innovation and meticulous order. Its robust infrastructure and competitive salaries make it a magnet for professionals and tech enthusiasts alike, set against a landscape brimming with cultural and modern marvels.

Find out what makes Tokyo different:

  1. Cultural Nexus: Tokyo presents a cultural feast where ancient traditions are celebrated alongside the vibrancy of modernity, offering an eclectic mix that informs its identity.
  2. Ultimate Convenience: The city is a paragon of efficiency, with its sophisticated public transport network, sky-piercing towers, and serene temple grounds coexisting in symbiotic harmony.
  3. Retail Wonderland: For shoppers, Tokyo is an endless playground, offering everything from high-end fashion to niche boutiques that cater to every imaginable taste.
  4. Nightlife Delight: When the sun sets, Tokyo transforms into a pulsing scene of nocturnal activities, with a kaleidoscope of bars, clubs, and dining spots that cater to night owls.
  5. Festive Richness: Throughout the year, Tokyo’s calendar is studded with events that celebrate its diverse heritage, from the bloom of cherry blossoms to vibrant anime exhibitions.
  6. Diverse Urban Experiences: The city offers an array of experiences for every interest; tranquil gardens provide a retreat from the city’s fast pace, while pop culture districts like Akihabara offer a deep dive into Japan’s unique entertainment scene.

As we round up our journey through the best cities for expatriates, it’s clear that Dubai shines as a top destination according to the latest research from Deluxe Holiday Homes. With unmatched salaries, lifestyle, and infrastructure, it’s an ideal choice for many. The study also highlights that both the UAE and Japan are leading choices, with two cities each on this prestigious list, with Osaka standing out for its exceptional housing affordability.

In conclusion, the path to finding your ideal expatriate city is as diverse as the destinations themselves. From Dubai’s luxurious allure to Tokyo’s pulsating modernity, the world offers a spectrum of locales for every desire and need. As you weigh your options, consider what resonates most with your personal and professional aspirations. Remember, the best city for you is where you’ll find fulfillment and joy in the life you create abroad.

Keep reading: Best cities for digital nomads