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The World’s Friendliest Countries

By Samantha Walsh

By Beth Greenfield | Forbes 

The Cayman Islands, Australia and the United Kingdom: Those are the three nations where it’s easiest to befriend locals, learn the local language, integrate into the community and fit into the new culture, according to the results of HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, which was released earlier this month.

The Cayman Islands scored well in all those categories, putting it first on our list of the Friendliest Countries. Seventy-five percent of expat respondents living there reported that they were integrating well in the local community; in Australia it was 72 percent and in the U.K. 73 percent.

HSBC surveyed 5,339 expatriates in nearly 100 countries between May and July 2012. Respondents rated their host countries on a slew of factors related to economics, raising children and overall experience. (Because countries with fewer than 30 respondents were deemed statistically insignificant, its final rankings include only 30 countries.)

To determine which were the friendliest, Forbes isolated the results in four categories: ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture.

1. Cayman Islands

“There’s no income or payroll tax, summer all-year-round, hardly any crime, and no pollution,” notes happy Scottish expat Steve McIntosh. “Grand Cayman has all the amenities of a city with the close-knit community of a town. That’s why most people who come here for a short assignment end up staying long term.”

2. Australia

Expats living Down Under had much to praise about their new country—from the pleasant climate and easy social integration to friendly locals (including at work, where 73% said they felt welcome) and a better work-life balance than in their previous country.

3. United Kingdom

Despite low economic confidence among expats here, 71% are looking to settle here long term, with the same percentage agreeing they have integrated well into the local community.

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