Not Denmark, happiest nation in the world. Not Spain, land of tapas and beaches. Not South Africa, with its jaw-dropping coastlines and rich, complicated culture. Neither Thailand, Brazil, Morocco.
So what's the top pick in the world for expats? Bahrain. If you don't know much about it, you're not alone.
The kingdom of Bahrain — all 300 square miles of it — sits on the Arabian Peninsula, connected to Saudi Arabia by the 16-mile King Fahd Causeway. To its southeast, Qatar (though the countries' relations aren't always operational). Farther along, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Look to the northwest and you'll find Kuwait.
So what makes it so liveable? Some credit the "gorgeous vistas, friendly people and fantastic food," as well as the fact that English is the lingua franca for the diverse expat community. It's certainly a change from its neighbors: three of those listed above — all except the U.A.E. — placed in the bottom 10. The U.A.E. wasn't indexed, though one might guess that given its strict policing of its expats' sex lives — including the country's track record for arresting those conducting affairs — it might not score well. Of course, Bahrain has the same law on the books, as the State Department reminds U.S. travelers in literal bold and italic on its country fact sheet.
Warnings aside, in its favor consider perhaps Jarada Beach, or these testimonials from expat residents: "With its sunshine, easy-going, kind and welcoming people, Bahrain is the place where my heart will remain forever."
The survey tabulated scores from 1 to 7 on subjects such as Ease of Settling In and Career Satisfaction from over 12,000 living in countries around the globe. Costa Rica and Mexico scored second and third place, respectively; the U.S. came in at number 43, behind South Africa and Hungary (and 40 other countries).