San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Expat Living

Expats in Costa Rica happiest in the world, says new poll

Costa Rica ranked very high in yet another international survey in terms of quality of life and ease of settling in for foreign residents.

The Expat Insider poll recently reported its third annual rankings, which aim to encapsulate the quality of expat life in hundreds of countries with a variety of indexes and subcategories.

Costa Rica ranked No. 1 in the personal happiness subcategory of the poll’s quality of life index. While ranking fifth overall in quality of life, Costa Rica also scored high in the categories of leisure options and health and well-being.

In a separate category measuring how easy it is for foreign residents to get settled, Costa Rica ranked second overall and in the top five in subcategories of feeling welcome, friendliness and finding friends, adding to the notion that Ticos are some of the world’s most hospitable people.

The survey found that eight out of 10 expats “feel at home” in Costa Rica and nine out of 10 feel the level of friendliness among locals is above average.

Costa Rica ranked No. 6 out of 67 countries in terms of the top expat destinations of 2016. Taiwan, Malta, and Ecuador made up the top three.

Costa Rica also scored high for climate and weather. The survey found that nine out of 10 expats look forward to the daily weather here.

Costa Rica’s most common types of expat, according to Expat Insider, are the “Greener Pastures Expat,” described as someone who seeks a better life abroad, and the “Dream Destination Expat,” who has long wanted to live in a certain country.

The Expat Insider poll is run by InterNations, a global networking community that aims to link up expats in their new homes. This year’s Expat Insider survey polled more than 14,000 people from hundreds of nationalities and resident countries.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at

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Rancho Silencio

I saw that Mexico is high up in a couple categories and I thought “This CAN’T be for real!” Mexicans I know don’t even want to live in Mexico. People are kidnapped every day and even nice neighborhoods and cities that were formerly safe are no longer safe from the drug thugs and other criminals!

Also: Malta? South Korea?
Who are they trying to kid with this?

Glad Costa Rica scored high, but in reality, it doesn’t mean much based on the methodology of this survey.

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Elizabeth Shakti Kaloczi

I’m finding it hard to believe the top 3 countries… Malta and Taiwan??? C’mon….!!!!!

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Ken Morris

I’d like to believe this, but a quick look at the methodology of the survey makes me not want to bother even looking at the 188-page report. The survey was online and promoted through InterNations’ website, etc. I have no idea who connects with that website (I don’t) but have to assume that the sample does not represent all expats. Why therefore bother looking at the report?

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I almost did as you but then curiosity prevailed and I DID look inside the report, primarily to see how large the responding sample was for Costa Rica, as that is a basic statistical qualifier. I found no such data. The only thing I did find was that the sample had to be about 50 respondents to be included. That number is quite low if it is being represented as a valid sample of all of Costa Rica’s 50,000 immigrants.

As you point out, that the voluntary respondents were very likely to have already been associated with the InterNations organization. Of course this skews the responses base. This is a fine group but it hardly represents the mix of those who can generally be called “immigrants” IN Costa Rica. It possibly represents the interests of what are called “expats”, along with the baggage that word carries.

So, considering that the sample is of unknown size (but above 50) voluntarily extracted from a narrow interest group with limited exposure to the immigrant population at large, I too conclude it’s of little validity.

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