Living in Germany For Members

Foreigners in Germany among the 'unhappiest and loneliest worldwide'

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
Foreigners in Germany among the 'unhappiest and loneliest worldwide'
A German flag flies in Berlin's Alt-Moabit district. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lisa Ducret

In the 2023 survey from InterNations, Germany ranks 49th out of 53 countries for foreigners to get settled in, scoring particularly badly in categories such as making friends and local friendliness.


Every year, InterNations - the world's largest community of foreign nationals - conducts the Expat Insider Survey, questioning more than 12,000 respondents about their experiences of living and working abroad in 53 destinations.

The survey is divided into five core sections which delve into the respondents' experiences in their respective countries of residence: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the Expat Essentials Index.

This year, Germany ranked in 49th place overall - making it one of the least attractive destinations for foreign nationals.

READ ALSO: Language and long waits: Why skilled workers are put off moving to Germany

It came bottom of the table in the Expat Essentials Index, which covers housing, administration, language, and digital life. Foreign nationals reported being particularly frustrated by the lack of digital infrastructure, the inflexible bureaucracy, and the tense situation in the housing market. More than half (56 percent) said they found it difficult to deal with the local bureaucracy while 58 percent reported struggling to find housing - 27 percent more than the global average. 

The language barrier proved to be a particular issue for foreigners living in Germany, as half of those questioned said they found it difficult to live here without speaking the local language, compared to 32 percent globally, while 60 percent reported finding German difficult to learn.

READ ALSO: What are the best websites and apps to learn German?

Germany also scored badly in the Ease of Settling In Index, which looks into how foreign nationals perceive local friendliness, how easy it is to make friends and how welcome they feel. 

Germans ranked among the bottom 5 least friendly local populations (50th) and three in ten respondents said that people in Germany are not friendly towards foreign residents and more than half reported finding it difficult to make local friends, with one in three saying that they do not feel at home in Germany.


The poor results in this subsection were not new to 2023 either: Germany has consistently ranked among the bottom 10 countries for finding friends and the friendliness of the locals over the last decade. 

It's unsurprising, then, that foreigners in Germany are among the unhappiest worldwide, with Germany ranking here in 50th place. 

Great job market and job security 

But it's not all bad news for foreign nationals living in Germany. 

Germany came in 15th place in the Working Abroad Index, with Germany’s job market (4th) and job security (5th) making it into the top 5 worldwide.

READ ALSO: Which regions in Germany need foreign engineers?

Germany also came in 18th place in the Quality of Life subsection, with foreign nationals appreciating both the infrastructure for cars and the easy availability of green goods and services (7th place for each). 


For salary and quality of life, Germany also ranked in the top ten countries (in 9th place).

One Nigerian national living in Germany told the researchers: “I like that I have an opportunity here to grow in my career and to have a sustainable life overall.”


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Lyssa in Mainz 2023/09/04 11:25
My neighbors have all been amazing and friendly. It is a small cul-de-sac though and that could explain it.

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