London was ranked as one of the worst cities in the world to live as an expat — even before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
That is according to the annual Expat Insider 2020 report by InterNations, which surveyed more than 15,000 expatriates representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries. For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2020, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per city was required.
Out of the 66 cities, London ranked 51st.
The survey was carried out in early March, so the responses are a good snapshot of life as an expat before the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is, how will the UK rank once the world evolves from the “new normal.”
An expat is an employee sent abroad on a corporate assignment or a new international hire. Therefore, the opinions of the survey respondents may differ from the overall population.
Respondents were asked to rate 25 different factors, which fall into 13 subcategories, related to life abroad. Those 13 subcategories were then put into four indices – Quality of Urban Life, Finance and Housing and Urban Work Life.
The survey also includes a Local Cost of Living Index, which did not factor into the overall ranking.
London’s ranking was dragged down by its poor scores across many categories. It ranked 59th in the Finance & Housing Index with 38% of respondents says housing is hard to find vs. 27% average globally. Only 8% of expats considered UK housing “affordable” versus 41% on average worldwide.
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Meanwhile, just 51% said they are satisfied with their financial situation in general versus 61% globally.
“I hate the extortionate cost of living, which results in very small living spaces,” an Australian expat complains. In fact, London comes 62nd in the Local Cost of Living Index.
London was also ranked a dismal 49th place for the quality of life with expats especially worried about their safety — only 16% feel completely safe versus 45% globally.
Also, despite the UK have having publicly funded healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS), London ranked 57th for healthcare.
The areas where it did rank well was to do with leisure options (83% of expats said they were happy with this) as well as providing “excellent career opportunities,” in which it ranked 4th in the world.