Where Are the World’s Friendliest Countries?

If you're looking for a new home (or just a vacation spot), head Down Under for a friendly reception.

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Getting away from stress can lead to a friendly lifestyle, something that both New Zealand and Australia specialize in, according to a HSBC Expat Explorer Survey and Forbes ranking of the world’s friendliest countries.

Using data from the largest survey of expatriates, Forbes distilled the information into a list of the friendliest locales, and New Zealand and Australia led the world on the niceness scale, edging out South Africa, which landed in third.

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The previous list’s leader, Canada, slipped all the way to fourth. And surprise, surprise — the United States sits in fifth place.

Countries were ranked on everything from economics and raising children to overall experience and the ease of befriending locals. Along those lines, the United Arab Emirates received the least-friendly moniker, one the country hasn’t exactly welcomed with open (or friendly) arms. India, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia all found themselves on the mean end of the survey’s list.

But back to the happy places, New Zealand and Australia. The countries’ separation from the world’s stress, quality social programs, focus on family outdoor activities, smaller populations that make assimilation easier and the lower unemployment, crime and poverty levels all added up to friendly and welcoming locations.

South Africa’s blend of African and European amenities and culture helped it score high on the list, along with the financial perks it provides. Those relocating to Canada enjoyed the work-life balance and those moving to the U.S. say their car and housing situations greatly improve upon their past. But nothing beat living the friendly life on the beaches of New Zealand. Imagine that.

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