Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey

Distant locals and a difficult housing market are among the factors resulting in a poor ranking for Scandinavian capitals in a survey on life for internationals in major cities.

Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey
Copenhagen and Stockholm. Composite: TunedIn61, mdurinik/Depositphotos

Copenhagen was ranked 54th and Stockholm 69th overall in the Expat City Ranking, based on a survey conducted by InterNations, a worldwide community for expats.

The Danish and Swedish capitals both ranked in the bottom 10 for finance and housing in the list of 72 cities, placing 63rd and 71st respectively.

Although Copenhagen in particular fared far better in the work-life balance category, rating in 1st place while Stockholm was 24th, that was not enough to save the overall disappointing ranking for the two cities.

Difficulty in settling as a newcomer was a further element of the survey in which the two cities did poorly: Copenhagen was found to be 61st and Stockholm 69th most difficult city in which to settle.

The ranking, based on survey responses from 18,000 people living and working abroad, is “one of the most extensive expat studies in the world”, InterNations wrote in a press release issued with the publication of the results.

Graphic: InterNations

The survey ranks the 72 cities by a variety of factors including quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, and finance and housing.

The top ten cities on the 2018 ranking are Taipei, Singapore, Manama, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Aachen, Prague, Madrid and Muscat.

With its 54th place overall, Copenhagen landed in the top ten in for urban work life and the bottom ten for finance and housing.

Quality of life and work-life balance were both rated highly by respondents: more than four in five respondents (84 percent) were satisfied with this aspect of life abroad (compared to 61 percent globally). Almost half (47 percent) said it could ‘not be any better’ (compared to 20 percent globally).

The same is true for working hours, with Copenhagen placing second worldwide, beaten only by German city Aachen. More than four in five expats in the Danish capital (83 percent) rate their working hours positively, compared to 62 percent worldwide.

READ ALSO: Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance

Copenhagen boasts the highest job security out of the Nordic cities included in the ranking: 67 percent of expats are happy with this factor, followed by Stockholm (62 percent) and Helsinki (61 percent).

Copenhagen is the best Nordic city for income in relation to living expenses, although it ranks only 43rd out of 72 cities worldwide for this factor. In fact, more than three in five expats (62 percent) are unhappy with the local cost of living, compared to a global average of 37 percent.

Not a single respondent said that it was ‘very easy’ for expats to find housing in Copenhagen (18 percent globally), while more than two in five (41 percent) consider it extremely hard (11 percent globally).

Copenhagen ranks 68th worldwide for housing, only ahead of Geneva, Munich, Dublin and Stockholm.

The Swedish capital is the worst-rated of the three Nordic cities included in the survey and was placed 69th overall, ahead of only three other cities worldwide: Rome, Jeddah and Riyadh.

Stockholm shows a particularly poor performance for getting settled (69th) and finance and housing (71st). More than four in five respondents (81 percent) said that housing is not affordable in Stockholm, compared to 44 percent globally.

Continuing a trend for housing to impact the overall ranking, 79 percent said it was not easy to find housing in Stockholm (compared to 30 percent globally).

The majority of expats in Stockholm (65 percent) also rated the local cost of living negatively (compared to 37 percent globally).

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to rent in Sweden?

When it comes to urban work life, respondents in Stockholm are happy with their working hours: seven in ten (70 percent) rate this positively, compared to 62 percent globally. However, Stockholm is still the worst-rated Nordic city for this factor (15th), ranking behind Copenhagen (2nd) and Helsinki (5th).

While expats are happy with their working hours, they report a lack of socializing and leisure activities to pursue in their free time: more than two in five (41 percent) rate them negatively, compared to less than one in five globally (19 percent). In fact, just 32 percent of expats in Stockholm are happy with their social life, compared to 57 percent globally.

This might be due to the lack of friendliness perceived amongst Stockholmers: the Swedish capital ranks 71st for this aspect of life abroad, outperforming only Riyadh.

When it comes to the quality of urban living, expats are not only dissatisfied with the leisure options but also with the weather in Stockholm: less than one-quarter (24 percent) rate the local climate and weather positively, compared to more than half of internationals globally (55 percent). On the bright side, Stockholm comes in second place for the quality of its urban environment.

In total, the responses used for the city ranking represent 11,966 people living as foreign citizens living in 55 countries. For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2018, a sample size of at least 45 survey participants per city was required; 72 cities in 47 different countries made this threshold in 2018.

READ ALSO: Sweden's housing shortage an obstacle to integration: report


Ten essential summer reads according to the Swedish bookstore voted world’s best

Recently chosen as the best bookstore in the world by the London Book Fair, The English Bookshop in Uppsala knows a thing or two about the written word. The Local asked owner Jan Smedh to hand-pick ten must-read titles for the summer.

Ten essential summer reads according to the Swedish bookstore voted world's best
The English Bookshop in Uppsala. Photo: The English Bookshops in Stockholm and Uppsala.


“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer

“This great, funny, empathic book about a middle-aged writer and his insecurities won the Pulitzer this year.”

Read more about the book here.


“The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield

“The perfect time to reacquaint yourselves with this 1922 New Zealand summer classic.”

Read more about the book here.

READ MOREThis is the world's best bookstore and it's in Uppsala, Sweden

Short Stories

“That Was A Shiver – and Other Stories” by James Kelman

“The Booker Prize winning Scottish author is back with a collection of compelling characters.”

Read more about the book here.


“Plaid & Plagiarism” by Molly MacRae

“A cozy crime with a murder in a Scottish bookshop – what more can you ask for?”

Read more about the book here.


“The Smack” by Richard Lange

“Lange is one of the very best writers of SoCal/Border Noir and this new book about a failing con artist going for the big score is another great read.”

Read more about the book here.

Science Fiction

“Illuminae” by Amie Kaufmann/Jay Kristoff

“The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war. Heart-stopping adventure.”

Read more about the book here.

Four best summer reads. Photo: The English Bookshops in Stockholm and Uppsala


“The Summer Dragon” by Todd Lockwood

“High fantasy adventure with dragons and politics – perfect immersive read about two siblings and their dragons.”

Read more about the book here.

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

“White Silence” by Jodi Taylor

“A gripping supernatural thriller with lots of twist by this English writer.”

Read more about the book here.

Young Adult

“Who Runs the World?” by Virginia Bergin

“Welcome to the matriarchy. Set 60 years after almost all men have been wiped out by a virus. 14-year old River thought men were extinct – then she meets Mason…”

Read more about the book here.


Hey look- it’s the kiddo! I’ve been down and out with a cold/flu for last few days, ran out of photos, and have exactly zero energy to take any more today, so I went waaaaay back in my phones to see if I had anything to use well I get my energy back and came across this nugget ? Rory helped me set up a bunch of photos to use while we were in America, and decided that she should really be IN the photos so here we are- she’s giving her best “girls rule” pose which I love ? I picked this book up awhile ago because I LOVE the cover- I really need to get around to reading it now ? . . QOTD: Rory would like to know what your Hogwarts house is- she’s a Gryffindor (because she wants to be Hermione- we spent about 6 weeks straight having to refer to her as Hermione- she wouldn’t answer to Rory ?) and I’m a Ravenclaw ? . . #whorunstheworld #girlpower #welcometothematriarchy #virginiabergin #littlefeminist #rainbowbooks #rainbowshelves #bookrainbow #shelfie #coverbuy #bookstagram #bookishpeepsies #bookishphotography #yareads #yabooks #yareader #yalit #ireadbooks #booksofinstagram #readersofinstagram #littlebookworm

A post shared by Samantha Hunt (@she_who_reads_) on Jun 26, 2018 at 7:26pm PDT


“I Found My Tribe” by Ruth Fitzmaurice

“A moving tale about an Irish writer who recovers from family trauma by swimming in the Irish Sea.”

Read more about the book here.