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The Ultimate Comparison of Immigration Destinations - Part I

The Ultimate Comparison of Immigration Destinations - Part I
Photo by Katie Moum / Unsplash

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if you live in another country? Maybe you've heard of "润 run" when you surf online and wonder whether those who did "run" ended in a better and happier life. Or you are offered a job opportunity oversea and you are not sure about the destination. Maybe you've simply imagined yourself in another parallel universe where you live in another country and leave all the things you don't like about your home country behind forever. Will you be better off?

Well, if you wonder any of these questions in 2024, then you shouldn't miss this ultimate immigration destinations comparison.

The following 10 most popular countries for immigration are picked out for this study, all of which are developed economies, and 6 of them are English speaking countries:

  • United States 🇺🇸
  • United Kingdom 🇬🇧
  • Canada 🇨🇦
  • New Zealand 🇳🇿
  • Australia 🇦🇺
  • Singapore 🇸🇬
  • Germany 🇩🇪
  • France 🇫🇷
  • Japan 🇯🇵
  • Spain 🇪🇸

The comparisons of them use economic, political, cultural and educational data to rank these countries on the things that will matter to your living experience, prosperity, rights and happiness. Where data is available, I will use China 🇨🇳 as a baseline for the comparison 💃

Economic performance, jobs and income

Without doubt, economic performance is one of the most important considerations for many of the immigrants, as it links to ones' job prosperity, potential income and the means to buy goods and services.

Economic Performance

Singapore is leading in the GDP per capita and has seen a fast growth in the 21st century.

For Germany and UK, the GDP growth for 2023 and 2024 are less than 1%, even negative, meaning a stagnated economy. The low growth or no growth countries will often take cuts in government spending, and see rises in crime rates and all sorts of problems in society.

Thanks to its highly efficient taxation system and liberal market environment, Singapore is the new world favourite for businesses (and the billionaire business owners) since millennium. Not only new businesses are booming, big and small businesses all over the world are also moving their headquarters to Singapore in recent years.

You won't be surprised that Singapore is one of the countries where opening a new business takes less than 2 days, indicating a very efficient and business-friendly society. New Zealand, however, is the winner in this aspect among them all.


Strong economic performance drives job prosperity. Singapore is also the country with the lowest unemployment rate among all. On the other hand, it is not news that Spain has been battling through high unemployment rate for decades. In a country with high unemployment rate, immigrants are more likely bear the unfair stigma of "robbing local people's jobs".

As to working hours, workers in the Asia-Pacific countries work a lot longer hours than the European folks. Singaporean average workers work 65% more hours than workers in Germany. High economic growth does come from people's sweat and blood!

Economic complexity tells you how diversified the industries are of any economy. Diversified industries provide diversified job opportunities. As of 2016, Japan ranked the highest among all of these countries, and Australia ranked the lowest.


Gross income does roughly track the GDP per capita and Singapore once again is leading the way. Males income are higher than females' in all these countries (more details on the gender equality in Part II).

In addition to the high GDP, high growth and high income, Singaporean are also enjoying the lowest tax burden among all. No wonder all the super riches are fleeing to this tropical miracle.

High income is great, but you also care about the income equality, especially if you haven't become the super rich yet. As a new immigrant just starting to participate in a foreign economic, with all the hardships you will endure in the first couple of years, you would want to start in a place where the opportunities and wealth distribution are fair and equal.

The winner of the economy, jobs and income sector is without doubt: Singapore! The rest of countries rank in: Germany > US > Canada as front runners, and UK > Australia > France > New Zealand in the same league, Japan > Spain at the bottom.

Cost of living

To assess if you are actually going to be better off money-wise moving to another country, income matters, and the cost of living matters as well. People always say that wealth is not the money you earn, but the money you have in your pocket. Your biggest fixed expenses are going out to the taxman, housing, food, utilities (energy, water, mobile and internet).

Based on the latest available (2022) data, here's how the NGI per capita gets distributed for essential needs and what you will be left with each month. Despite the extremely high rent, you are still left with the highest amount each month in Singapore. US follows right after Singapore in the league. As for all the mid-band countries, Japan actually stands out for a decent portion of money left in your hands after the essentials, thanks to its affordable rent cost.

Property prices

Immigrants may want to own their home eventually. After all, that's the good old American dream. Property prices can be highly location variable. For simplicity, I take the biggest city of each country and let's have a look at the property price to income ratio for 2024 as an indicator. Paris properties take an average person 17.4 years of income to buy. But if you think this is all too crazy, side note, Shanghai, China actually has a whooping property price to income ratio of 47.9!