The best Southeast Asian cities to live and work in 2021

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Ranked accordingly, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok made it to the list of cities that expatriates prefer to live and work in 2021.

Kuala Lumpur tops the survey of the Expat City Ranking 2021. The city has been ranked as the best place to live in Southeast Asia and the world this year. Respondents find the city easy to settle in with the affordable and convenient-to-acquire housing. Additionally, 80% are satisfied with their financial situation, with 64% saying that their household income is more than enough to cover expenses. However, the city gets average results in terms of working hours and work-life balance.


Next to Kuala Lumpur is Singapore, receiving its best results in terms of urban living, especially in the aspects of safety and politics where nearly all expatriates are happy with the political stability. However, 43% of the expatriates find healthcare unaffordable, despite it being readily available and of good quality. Additionally, Singapore gained below average results when it comes to urban life work and even falls in the bottom 10 of the work-life balance ranking. Also, housing is expensive but easy enough to find.


Ho Chi Minh City falls behind Singapore, with its fine points on the local cost of living and the easy-to-acquire affordable housing. The respondents find the city doing well in terms of giving them overall job satisfaction, with 88% of the expatriates satisfied with their job.

Lastly, Bangkok expatriates are very happy with their job, generally, but because there seem to be few career opportunities, they are unhappy with their employment status (41%). The city received excellent results in terms of housing, cost of living, and financial situation.


InterNations, a global expatriate network with over four million members, carried out the Expat City Ranking 2021 by surveying 12,420 expatriates from 57 cities. Its members are spread across 420 cities around the world.


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