Designating Best And Worst Places To Be An Expat Unhelpful Because Expatriate Life Isn't Monolithic

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 10.43.02 AMI find there are so many ways to be 'an expat' (economically, socially, culturally) that studies like this one from HSBC that looks at economic opportunities and quality of life in 34 countries don't begin to address, and therefore aren't very useful.

Once a fellow expat came to my apartment in Istanbul with its view and modern appliances in the kitchen and said, "Oh I get it, this is the expat life everyone's talking about."

She lived in a village outside a minor city with the local ladies setting up a couch outside her living room window to 'watch' her like an exotic animal. That was her frugal backpacker choice.

Meanwhile, when I visited consulate- and corporate-package expats who lived in upscale, gated housing compounds and didn't know the name of the street where they lived and didn't eat Turkish food and asked me if it was wise to get involved with a Turkish man, that was a different kind of expat world.

And that range is just anecdotal, and one country. There were many more ways to be an expat in Turkey, with wildly different economic opportunities and qualities of life.

The only way to begin to get meaningful results from a survey of 'expat' experience is if equal numbers of people all along the expat/foreign national scale -- economically, socially, culturally -- participated in each country.