The Top 10 Cities to Live in in 2021

2020 Has certainly not been a year of travelling but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of wanderlust. On the contrary, spending so much time at home has allowed us to daydream of where we are going to go as soon as we can (safely).

What are you dreaming of?

Sunning yourself on a Thai beach? Skiing in Switzerland? Celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing?

As a TEFL teacher, the world is your oyster. There are so many places you can go but the question is: where should you go?

The online community for ex-pats, InterNations, recently completed their annual Expat Insider survey to rank a number of cities in order to find out which are the best cities to live in for ex-pats. 15 000 ex-pats ranked the cities according to criteria such as job opportunities, healthcare, work-life balance, and quality of life. We’ve used this data to show you the 10 best cities to live in in 2021!

Read more: Expat Insider 2020

And these are the results:

1. Valencia

Coming out tops overall is the beautiful city of Valencia. Good healthcare, plentiful leisure options, and affordable accommodation made this city the top choice out of the 66 countries. The ex-pats also noted that it was easy to make friends and assimilate into the local culture. Interestingly, while Valencia rated top of the cities for living, it did not rate well for employment opportunities. Thankfully, there are loads of opportunities for TEFL teachers in this amazing city! There’s no wonder Valencia bagged the top spot of the 10 best cities to live in in 2021!

2. Alicante

Coming a close second is another Spanish city. Alicante rates very highly for healthcare, cost of living, and accommodation. The weather is also a big plus, as well as the ease of settling in. Expats in Alicante agree that residents of Alicante are very friendly when it comes to foreigners and the local culture is easy to merge with. What brings the city down are issues of public transportation and safety.

3. Lisbon

Coming in third is the Portuguese city of Lisbon. The weather, lifestyle, and leisure options make this city a popular choice for ex-pats. The urban area is rated highly and safety is of no concern, though accommodation is not very affordable. The majority of ex-pats here are satisfied in their current jobs while not being impressed by their future career options. Some mentioned that it is not easy to get a job or progress in your career if you don’t speak Portuguese.


The rest of the top ten are a mix of cities from around the world, though it is clear Spain is the overall winner with four of the top ten cities (are we surprised?). The rest of the top ten is as follows:

4. Panama City

5. Singapore

6. Malaga

7. Buenos Aires

8. Kuala Lumpur

9. Madrid

10. Abu Dhabi

On the other end of the scale, we have cities that ranked the worst. Again it’s quite a mix of cities from around the world, and some of them are quite surprising. The bottom ten are as follows:

57. Hong Kong

58. Dublin

59. Santiago de Chile

60. Johannesburg

61. Paris

62. Nairobi

63. Milan

And the bottom three cities:

64. Seoul

To be honest, this is a surprising entry. As a powerhouse in the world of TEFL, the South Korean capital has always been a popular choice for TEFL teachers. With good salaries and generous packages, not to mention beautiful locations and amazing food, many TEFL teachers rave about living in this cosmopolitan city. We expected to be adding Seoul to our list of the top 10 cities to live in in 2021, but the ex-pats make a good point…

The majority of ex-pats found Seoul very difficult to acclimatize to and settle in, and then many struggle to maintain a good work-life balance in the city. Expats have no issues with public transportation, medical care, and public safety, but the cost of living is high in comparison to wages, making the financial situation not ideal for those living and working there. However, considering many teaching packages include accommodation, it’s definitely still a good option for TEFL teachers who want to save money – but you need to be prepared to work hard!

Read more: Teaching English in South Korea

65. Rome

While Rome scores well on weather, concerns about political stability, personal safety, bad public transportation, and the lack of availability of healthcare means it earns a place second-to-last on the list. This is a little surprising considering Rome’s history and architectural and religious places of interest, but if we’re honest, it’s also not the best city for TEFL teachers.

Many schools in Rome are small and independent. This might mean they are unregulated. While this might not seem like a problem, you are not guaranteed students and fly-by-night schools are not unheard of. Rome is a magical city for sure, but we think it’s a better idea to work in a city close by and be a tourist in Rome.

66. Salmiya

Coming in stone last is the Kuwaiti city of Salmiya. A bad quality of life, coupled with a difficult financial situation and challenges in getting settled all contribute to its dismal score. The majority of ex-pats there complain of not feeling at home and say they found it hard to make friends and integrate into the local culture.

Kuwait is not a bad option for a TEFL teacher if you are comfortable with the lifestyle. You might be the only foreign teacher in whichever city you are in, but the salary should more than make up for that. However, rather than teach in Salmiya, teaching in Kuwait City is a better option for TEFL teachers.

Of course, you should never take someone’s opinion of a place as your own. No one can tell you if you would like a city until you have lived there yourself. Even if a city has scored badly on a survey such as this, there is no reason that it can’t surprise you and you love it there. We always say, you can always go home, so why not go to a city and experience it for yourself. If you don’t like it, you can always go home!

The post The Top 10 Cities to Live in in 2021 appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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