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Friendliest Countries In The World For Expats

Friendliest Countries In The World For Expats

Travelling, whether visiting or settling abroad is one of life’s greatest joys, but it really helps if you can be sure of a warm welcome and the chance to make new friends.

In our research, we’ve uncovered a hit-list of the world’s friendliest countries, which offer a combination of diversity, inclusion, and friendliness, plenty to see and do, and the chance to feel ‘at home’, wherever you are.

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What are the friendliest countries in the world?

There are a number of traits people look for when it comes to measuring friendliness, from having a positive attitude, to being open minded and tolerant of people from different backgrounds, religions and ethnicities.

However, there are other factors that help facilitate friendliness. Things like environment, the presence of community spaces and the country’s culture all factor in. These are just some of the metrics we’ve drawn upon to make this list of friendliest countries, alongside some more tangible statistics related to how safe the countries are to visit and move to as an expat, quality of life and how welcoming the country is to new start-up businesses.

While we’ve used a wide range of sources to find our friendliest countries, including The World Population Review and the United Nations. Another source was our very own ‘friendliest cities survey’ , looking at the 23 most visited cities around the world and ranking them on a number of factors, including: resident happiness, safety, LGBT+ inclusivity, top attractions, and the highest-rated hotels.

So, without further ado, lets jump in with our top 5 friendliest countries for 2023.

Our round up of the friendliest countries in the world 2023

Happy couple having fun surfing at the beach and running towards the sea holding their boards
Australia takes the top spot for the friendliest country in the world // GETTY IMAGES

The friendliest countries in the world for expats

1/ Australia

  • Population: 25.7 million
  • Number of expats: 7.5 million
  • Quality of life index: 178.41
  • Friendliest city: Melbourne

With enviable weather, endless beaches and that famous laid-back Aussie lifestyle, it’s no wonder the land down under takes the top spot for friendliest country.

According to the Anholt-GMI “National Brands Index”, Australia ranks top in people’s perceptions of tourism, community, investment and immigration, drawing in around 8 million tourists a year (pre-COVID).

Wide, open spaces and a year-round, warm climate make for an active lifestyle. Australians love their sport, particularly Aussie Rugby, crickets and surfing. Because of this, Australian’s value friendship and camaraderie very highly, and love nothing more than ending the day watching or playing their favourite team sports.

As well as being the friendliest country, Australia is also home to world’s friendliest city. Melbourne scored top marks in our recent survey, with reviews widely agreeing it was not only forward thinking, open, inclusive and competitive, but could also be referred to as ‘the capital of cool’.

Melbourne is the coastal capital of Australia and the largest city in the state of Victoria. Extensive gardens and public parks, spacious living, a high standard of education, reliable public transport and a low crime rate all contribute to a high standard of living, and buzzing areas such as bohemian Fitzroy, beachside St Kilda and quirky Collinwood offer some of the best art, food, and entertainment anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, Australia has a rapidly growing foreign community as expats and digital nomads swarm to enjoy the high-quality of life and friendly culture down under.

Friendliest city score – Melbourne:

Safety index score

Happiness score / 10

LGBT score / 10

Friendly city score / 10


Data collated as part of the William Russell Friendliest Cities survey 2022

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Happy group of people on a large table outside cheering and toasting with red wine glasses
Spanish culture is all about family and friendships // GETTY IMAGES

2/ Spain

  • Population: 47.3 million
  • Number of expats: 5.43 million
  • Quality of life index: 163.48
  • Friendliest city: Madrid

In second place in our friendliest countries ranking is Spain. This European country has long been a favourite among British expats and tourists, combining a wealth of colourful history, arts and culture with one of the most friendly and welcoming atmospheres in the world. The result is a joyful, friendly place, which welcomes expats and travellers from all over the world to join its residents.

Spanish culture is all about family and friendships, and communities regularly come together throughout the year for large communal celebrations. The country is also renowned for its laid-back food and drink culture. Tapas – meals made up of small sharing plates – is a popular way to dine throughout the country’s cities and beach resort, while in closer-knit, rural communities it’s not uncommon to share evening meals with friends and neighbours.

Easily affordable, with great career opportunities in its industrial hubs, Spain is also sports obsessed – perhaps another reason why friendship and teamwork is so highly valued.

The working culture in Spain is relaxed to say the least, making it the perfect place to even out your work-life balance and take advantage of all the leisure activities the country has to offer.

Madrid and Barcelona both ranked in the top ten in our friendliest cities survey, hailed among expats for their highly inclusive culture and ease with making friends.

Friendliest city score – Madrid:

Safety index score

Happiness score / 10

LGBT score / 10

Friendly city score / 10


Data collated as part of the William Russell Friendliest Cities survey 2022

Father and son paddling together on the shoreline having fun
Residents of New Zealand are known for being friendly and welcoming // GETTY IMAGES

3/ New Zealand

  • Population: 5.12 million
  • Number of expats: 1.07 million
  • Quality of life index: 176.3
  • Friendliest city: Auckland

Another of the world’s most liveable countries is New Zealand, whose residents are known for being friendly and welcoming, embracing the traditional Māori spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality and generosity).

Consistently named in the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards, New Zealand has it all, from world-class food, wine, coffee, and a thriving arts and culture, to beautiful coastlines, islands, beaches, and forests offering countless activities from sailing and surfing to mountain biking and hiking.

New Zealand nationals, also known as Kiwis, are famed for their positive attitude toward life, and are overwhelmingly welcoming to foreign visitors and expats wanting to make a new home for themselves on the island. Expats can expect to be quickly welcomed into local traditions, celebrations and sporting activities, making themselves right at home from day one.

Auckland, the country’s capital, comes 12th overall in our ranking of friendliest cities, however places 3rd for happiness, with a score of 7.37/10. The city also got full marks for an inclusive atmosphere and had the most number of reviewers using the work ‘welcoming’ to describe Auckland on traveller sites.

Friendliest city score – Auckland:

Safety index score

Happiness score / 10

LGBT score / 10

Friendly city score / 10


Data collated as part of the William Russell Friendliest Cities survey 2022

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Young couple laughing together in the Temple Bar area of Dublin in Ireland
Ireland has been ranked among the friendliest countries in Europe and the world many times over // GETTY IMAGES

4/ Ireland

  • Population: 5.03 million
  • Number of expats: 65,200
  • Quality of life index: 150.54
  • Friendliest city: Dublin

Ireland is home to people from all over the world, so travellers and residents alike can always find friends. Ireland has been ranked as among the friendliest countries in Europe and the world many times over, with its natives known for being conversational and tolerant.

Ireland comes with rich history and vibrant culture, both of which the residents are very proud. The Irish landscape is known for its wide expanses of greenery, earning it the nickname, ‘Emerald Isle’. However, there are also large areas of craggy rock, steep cliffs and rugged coast, giving foreign expats plenty to explore.

Dublin is ranked one of the top 10 friendliest cities in the world, and comes with not only a thriving start-up culture, but also a great community atmosphere driven mostly by pub culture, though also by a humble creative scene.

Lined with Georgian townhouses, and classical Edwardian facades, Dublin is home to a number of internationally famous museums and galleries, and great shopping opportunities that sit shoulder-to-shoulder with characterful pubs, and plentiful nightlife venues.

Ireland also ranks consistently strongly in terms of quality of life, most recently appearing in second place in the United Nations annual ranking of 189 countries – just another factor keeping the residents so up for making friends.

Friendliest city score – Dublin:

Safety index score

Happiness score / 10

LGBT score / 10

Friendly city score / 10


Data collated as part of the William Russell Friendliest Cities survey 2022

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Two friends taking a walk around the Eiffel Tower in Paris
France is one of the most diverse countries in Europe // GETTY IMAGES

5/ France

  • Population: 67.5 million
  • Number of expats: 6.5 million
  • Quality of life index: 153.6
  • Friendliest city: Paris

Taking the last spot in our list of friendliest countries, we have France. Perhaps one of the most diverse countries in Europe, with everything from ski resorts to castles, to sun-blushed beaches and sprawling vineyards.

Let’s start though with the famously glamourous, and truly romantic city of Paris. Ranked in second place for its friendliness, Paris’s deep history and stunning architecture provide the backdrop for a huge and eclectic mix of activity, shopping, and entertainment, with happy social communities that couldn’t be happier to welcome travellers and expats alike.

Paris has developed as a collection of village-like areas, known as arondissements, each of which has its own particular charm. The best way to experience the city is to walk, affording the opportunity to make new friends along the way, as well as to uncover some of Paris’s best kept secrets.

Find top-quality couture and some of the world’s fine dining in St Germain, stroll by the river into the Marais and the Latin Quarter for bistros and small unique artisan shops, or head for any one of Paris’s world class art galleries and museums.

In Paris and beyond, eating out is one of the best ways to meet new people in France – and the French café culture offers plenty of opportunity to do so. Priding themselves as having one of the best cuisines in the world, the French love to host large gatherings of friends, and expats will quickly find their social calendars filled to burst with offers of wine and cheese filled evening.

Friendliest city score – Paris:

Safety index score

Happiness score / 10

LGBT score / 10

Friendly city score / 10


Data collated as part of the William Russell Friendliest Cities survey 2022

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How to make friends as an expat

Making friends as an expat can seem like an impossible feat, especially if there’s a language barrier. However, there are things you can do to overcome the initial struggle, and settle into your new home.

Here’s our five essential steps to making friends as an expat:

  1. Spend time in your local community – It might sound obvious, but the more time you spend out in your local community, the more likely you are to make new connections. Take your work to a local café, commit to shopping in local stores or attend local events. The first step to making friends as an expat is to show up and be seen.
  2. Find a job – Another quick and easy way to embed yourself in the local community is to find a job. Even if you’re a digital nomad, taking on a weekend role, or volunteering somewhere local can be worth the extra work, giving you unique opportunities to make friends in a way that doesn’t feel forced.
  3. Discover a new hobby – Taking up a hobby (or rediscovering an old one) can help you connect with like-minded people who share your interests. Whether is getting involved with a local sports team, joining a book club, or getting stuck in with the local orchestra, connecting through hobbies is a great way to make new and meaningful friendships.
  4. Seek out expat groups – The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with local expat communities. Start your search through sites like Facebook and MeetUp, to find foreign national who, like you, are in the market to make new friends.
  5. Start your own expat community – Can’t find any expat groups nearby? Start your own! It’s easy enough to do online and you’ll probably be surprised just how many local expats are also searching for new friends.

Wherever you move, go with total peace of mind

Travelling or settling abroad can make health insurance confusing, especially when there are so many different options. That’s why at William Russell, we’ve made it our business to make expat health insurance easy.

William Russell provides a single international health insurance policy which covers you wherever you are, and also offers the right level of cover during visa applications, work permit processes, or multi-destination travel.

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