For many expats, finding new friends can ease the often overwhelming task of adjusting to a new life abroad. But with huge variances in local culture and language capabilities, some places can definitely feel more welcoming than others, writes Lindsey Galloway of the global community network InterNations
To determine where expats might find the best success of fitting in fast, global community network InterNations recently conducted their annual Expat Insider survey of more than 14,000 expats from 191 countries, asking residents to rate a number of aspects about life abroad, including how easy it was to settle in, a country’s friendliness and ease of making friends.
We talked to residents in the countries ranked high for friendliness to find out what makes these places so hospitable to newcomers. Uganda received the highest marks for friendliness. According to the InterNations report, 57% of expats in Uganda gave ‘general friendliness’ the best possible rating (the global average was 26%). Not only that, not a single respondent ranked this factor negatively.
Charlotte Beauvoisin, a British expat who writes about living in the capital Kampala at Diary of a Muzungu, said that welcoming all nationalities is an intrinsic part of the culture, and residents are quick to offer smiles to newcomers.
InterNations Ambassador Nadya Mileva, originally from Bulgaria and now living in Kampala, agrees, saying that the people are ‘amazingly friendly’.“The country has a lot to offer, from breathtaking landscapes to high-end restaurants and bars to year-round summer,” she added. Many expats live in Kampala, where English is widely spoken
Uganda isn’t without its problems, however, including the occasional power outage, pollution from old cars and infrastructure growing pains that can make traffic come to a complete standstill. But “the overwhelming majority of visitors to Uganda love the place. Many of us extend our contracts; many of us decide to settle here,” Beauvoisin said.
The majority of expats live in Kampala, where English is common and international restaurants abound.
“It has a high-energy core with a relaxed periphery well suited for families and others who prefer to stay at home,” Mileva said. While the southern half of the city is culturally diverse and less expensive, with easy access to Lake Victoria and the airport, the northern half is home to more affluent neighbourhoods. But expats live everywhere.
“There are not neighbourhoods predominated by mazungus [foreigners] and others only for Ugandans,” Mileva explained. The country is also very affordable for food and labour – meaning that expats are usually able to maintain a high standard of living.
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