Country Guides February 24, 2020

The Ultimate List of the Friendliest Countries in the World

Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

Settling into a new community is often the hardest part of an overseas relocation. You can make it easier by moving to one of the friendliest countries in the world. Unsurprisingly, there are scores of them all around the globe, on every continent. So stay with us as we guide you through our picks.

What Defines the Friendliest Countries in the World? Not the 2020 Tourist Numbers

Nearly every survey in any country will probably show that locals see their nation as friendly and welcoming to foreigners. That is not very surprising. What can raise a few eyebrows is the fact that many of the countries which top the lists of most visited destinations don’t rank very high in friendliness. Not that many expats will praise the local attitude of, say, the French, especially if you don’t speak their language. The US also doesn’t pass with flying colors, since many foreigners assert that Americans don’t really care for other people, even though they are friendly on the outside. Yet, in many places, you can feel at home without much effort and easily make friends with locals. Let’s see what are the places where language, cultural, or religious differences are welcomed instead of frowned upon.

flags around the globe
Choose from our list of the friendliest countries in the world

Oh, Canada

If you were asking yourself which country is most hospitable, you don’t have to look very far. The politeness of Canadians earned them the title of the butt of many jokes, but Canada is one of the favorite spots for expats from all around the world. Folks usually welcome them with open arms, and all those who move to Canada will most likely never leave. If you aren’t put off by a colder climate, you may as well start packing because, in the case of Canada, adjusting to a new country will be a walk in the park.

people kayaking
You’ll easily make friends in Canada

Explore Latin America – Easy-Going Life and Low Prices

If living overseas is the next step you want to take in life, then you may head south, just as well as north. Latin America offers numerous opportunities for Americans. What they all have in common (except Brazil) is the Spanish language, from Mexico in the north to Argentina and Chile in the far south. Also, the cost of living there is not particularly high, especially when compared to the US.

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Things to Do as an Expat in Mexico

America’s southern neighbor regularly ranks high as a country very friendly to expats. All those who are or have been there agree that the local population is extroverted and ready to befriend foreigners. Also, the local culture is easy to adapt to.

The nation itself is brimming with exciting things to do. It has it all, from sunny beaches to the ruins of Aztec and Maya deep inside the rainforest. And when you get enough of all that, just go to any of the clubs in Mexico City or Tijuana. Besides, since the northernmost part of Mexico is well connected to the US, many professionals there speak good English.

The Carnival Spirit of Brazil

Perhaps it is to be expected in the land of carnivals, beaches, and samba, but you’ll find a warm welcome in Brazil. Still, expats should be mindful of safety concerns there. Also, speaking Portuguese is a must.

The Kind and Welcoming Costa Rica

Did you know that the Costa Rican Pacific island Isla del Coco (Cocos Island) inspired Michael Chrichton to write his famous novel Jurassic Park, which was later adapted into a series of movies? Unfortunately or not, nowadays, you probably won’t encounter any dinosaurs in this Latin American country. What you will find are friendly people, a culture you’ll feel at home with, and marvelous landscapes. After a hard day’s (or week’s) work, you can go to the beach or climb up a volcano.

street in chile
The local crowd is warm and welcoming in Latin America

Europe is (Mostly) Friendly to Foreigners

Europe offers a perfect puzzle of nature, cultures, and languages for anyone willing to embark on such a journey. From tiny island states such as Malta or Cyprus to the giants with the likes of France and Germany, there’s something for everyone.

Still, knowing the local ways is advisable. Lots of laughter and small talk won’t take you very far in terms of making friends in places like Latvia or Russia, but even there, you can expect help on the street if you are polite. Slovakia and Bulgaria also don’t rank high on friendliness lists. Yet, plenty of pieces of the mosaic that is Europe do so.

If you are wondering which European country is the friendliest, we’ve picked two for you.

Portugal is Among the Best Places To Travel and Live In (Just Don’t Confuse It With Spain)

The Atlantic nation of Portugal is one that you’ll instantly fall in love with. It is one of the rare places on Earth where almost 30 percent of expats say that locals constitute the majority of their friends. Many people who moved to Portugal praise the way the local population cares for their neighbors and “look after each other.”

Vibrant cities, beaches, famous wines, islands, and rich history make Portugal a destination that’s hard to ignore. Just don’t make the mistake of confusing Portugal and its language with neighboring Spain (also expat heavyweight, by the way).

Ireland – A Paradise for Retirees

Magical green hills and fields of Ireland, home of the fairies and leprechauns, are a magnet for people from around the globe, among them the ever-growing number of US retirees. The cost of living may be a bit high, but the Irish are jolly people, and it’s easy to make friends with them. Unlike many others, an Irish person you meet in a pub will most likely be genuinely interested in your story. Also, you won’t have to worry about breaking the language barrier since English is the official language in Ireland. The accent will take some getting used to, though.

portugal flag
Portugal is a great country to live in

A Great View From a Hotel in The Gulf

Arab states of the Persian Gulf have come a long way in transforming the barren deserts they inherited into vibrant areas that attract people from all over the world. Sky-high cities and the local hospitality, combined with clever advertising, turned states such as Qatar or the United Arab Emirates into powerhouses for attracting foreigners looking for an exotic lifestyle.

The Islands and Sea of Bahrain

The tiny island monarchy in the Arabian Gulf welcomes more and more tourists from the US and the rest of the world every year. Since it lies on the crossroads of major trade routes, Bahrain’s culture is ancient. Local people are warm and welcoming, and you can get by for a good while without knowing Arabic.

One of the Less Known Friendliest Countries in the World: Oman

Another Gulf monarchy, Oman, is used to being well ranked on lists, but also in the hearts of expats. It has a friendly population, ready to accept foreigners, maybe more than in any other Arab country. Once there, you can enjoy the thriving cities with centuries-old mosques, but also the sand dunes in the desert.

modern islands
The Persian Gulf is a place of many opportunities

Want to Take the Best Photos? Head to South-East Asia

If there was a region on the planet where you might spend an entire lifetime just taking photos, that would be South-East Asia. Ancient cultures, jungles with countless exotic animal species, endless beaches, and tropical paradises – it is all there, along with friendly locals.

Vietnam – Land of Friendliness and Gentle Folk

This may seem odd, having had years of war against the US, but the Vietnamese have moved on, and Americans are welcome nowadays. Two main cities in the country, the capital city of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (formerly known as Saigon), are modern centers of cultural and business life. Most expats describe the locals as nice and kind and claim that the whole nation gives away friendly vibes.

Cambodia, the Home of Angkor Wat

The first thing that comes to mind about Vietnam’s neighbor Cambodia is ancient Angkor Wat, a complex of Hindu temples. It’s not easy to get to, but luckily, it’s easy to make friends with locals who will then help you. In fact, showing interest in their culture and tradition is the shortest way to the heart of a Cambodian.

cultural monuments
Cambodia is rich in history and culture

The Riches of Africa Are Calling

Africa is the favorite tourist destination for many people. The turquoise lagoons of Zanzibar, safaris in West African countries, surfing in South Africa, and the culture and history of Maghreb are reasons enough for that. Still, away from all the glamour lies a diamond in the rough.

Experience the Culture of Burkina Faso

You won’t find a savannah here. Tourism is not developed. Still, the local culture is vibrant and robust, and people are ready and willing to make friends and share with them what they have.

Burkina Faso is the land of riches

A Bit About the Unfriendly Ones Across the Globe

Now let’s look at the other end of our list – the destinations you should think more than twice before hiring international moving services. Of course, there are countries like Iran, where political tensions don’t affect would-be expats in a positive manner. Or Mongolia, which is so vast and so sparsely populated and remote that most folks outside the capital will think of the very fact you’re there as quite strange.

But on the bottom of all rankings stands, maybe a bit surprisingly, Kuwait. It holds the appeal for many people thanks to the growing economy and stable political situation. Still, the Kuwaiti have little or no interest in making friends with foreigners, as many folks who went there attested.

Many say that expat life isn’t easy in Switzerland, either.

beautiful colorful towers
Kuwait is a prosperous country, but locals don’t spend much time on foreigners.

It’ll All Go Well In the End

Come what may, if your heart is set on moving overseas, don’t be dissuaded by anything. Wherever you go, with a combination of good manners, respect for laws and customs of the nation, and willingness to socialize, you’ll settle in and be accepted.

And if you still have strong doubts, don’t go all in. Your belongings may wait for you in storage, just in case.

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