May 20, 2024

Best Quality of Life Asia statistics

The Asian countries with the best quality of life have an enormous amount to offer – and particularly so if Europe isn’t your cup of tea.

We recommend you weigh up the pros and cons of these Asian countries before you consider relocating to another state. Whether you prefer the lifestyles of the Middle East or the cosmopolitan environments of Hong Kong and Singapore, this diverse continent has something for everyone.

To help you decide, we’ve put together this guide to the Asian countries with the best quality of life, using the HDI 2021 index as our key metric. Let’s dive in.

Asian Countries with the Best Quality of Life


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These 15 countries offer the best quality of life in Asia, according to international statistics. Let’s learn more about them.


Our first five entries span Southeast Asia and Central Asia and stretch into the Middle East for a wide range of societies and cultures.

15. Thailand

Thailand living expectancy

Source: WHO

HDI index: 0.8

Our list begins with Thailand, a Southeast Asian country with an HDI rating of 0.8. The country’s attractive climate and affordable living costs are big reasons why expatriates are drawn to it. Moving to Thailand will offer you a choice between busy Bangkok and life at a leisurely pace in one of the many resorts, such as Phuket. 

Given the country’s low cost of living, it’s no surprise that its salaries are much lower than the European ones – the average monthly wage is $423.

However, many expats choose the digital nomad route when moving to Thailand and live comfortably on these earnings. Thailand is also popular amongst retirees who have saved enough to enjoy the country’s delights with few restrictions. 

14. Malaysia

Malaysia quality of life

HDI index: 0.803

The country that borders Thailand to its north is number fourteen on our list.

Malaysia has an HDI score of 0.803, and many people choose Kuala Lumpur and other Malaysian cities thanks to the country’s well-developed infrastructure, affordable cost of living – it’s more affordable than its southern neighbor – and high standards of education. European retirees also love Malaysian beaches.

Malaysia’s geographical situation means that countries like Singapore and Thailand are easily accessible for quick getaways.

If you’re working in a city like Kuala Lumpur, you can reach many nearby countries, thanks to the well-connected airport. Plus, expat salaries are usually higher than those of locals, enabling you to afford a good standard of living.

13. Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan employment statistics

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.811

The Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country and has a rapidly developing economy and rich natural resources. Most of the country’s workforce is engaged in the services sector, although 20% of the population works in industry. Its HDI score is 0.811.

In recent years, many Russians have relocated to Kazakhstan, but the country attracts expats from all over. If you’re able to secure a well-paid job that pays above the local average of $718, you can benefit from the low cost of living.

However, the country’s continental climate could be hard to get used to if you’re from a coastal region. Moreover, Kazakhstan has seen some political unrest in recent years, which can put expats off.

12. Oman

Oman life expectancy

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.816

In twelfth place, we have the Sultanate of Oman, with an HDI score of 0.816. The country is the Arab world’s oldest independent state. It’s home to about 4 million people and has stunning landscapes.

Although not as popular among expats as its neighbor, the UAE, which we’ll come back to later, Oman has a significant number of foreign residents. However, it’s currently in the process of trying to reduce migration, so it may be tricky to secure a job in the country.

Oman is considered one of the safest countries in the Middle East, and criminals face very severe punishments. If you’re lucky enough to get a job in Oman, you’ll be surrounded by people from different backgrounds, but you might find it tricky to adapt to the conservative lifestyle.

Although Oman is more liberal than its neighbors, it’s still a Muslim country with a strict and hierarchal society and business culture.

11. Brunei

Brunei quality of life

HDI index: 0.829

With an HDI index score of 0.829, Brunei Darussalam is one of the wealthiest ASEAN countries thanks to its rich petroleum and natural gas reserves. The country has a large contingent of expatriates, who choose it for the high quality of life, education, subsidized healthcare, and high life expectancy on offer.

The country’s average wealth per adult is over $40,000, which is made possible by its petroleum reserves and low inflation rates.

However, European and American expats may experience culture shock when moving to Brunei, as it’s a very strict Islamic nation with restrictions on alcohol consumption. What’s more, the tropical climate – with two monsoon seasons – could require some adjustment, especially if you’re from a landlocked country.



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This batch of entries includes some of the glittering jewels of the Middle East and some of the most impressive metropolises in the region.

10. Kuwait

Arab residents in Kuwait statistics

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.831

Opening our top ten is the tiny nation of Kuwait, with an HDI score of 0.831. It’s almost fully urbanized, and about a quarter of its population is made up of expatriates from other Arab countries. It’s a wealthy country with a notable number of billionaires per capita, at one per 33,000 people.

Expats are drawn to Kuwait due to its high quality of life, high salaries, and lack of taxes. Many of them have prestigious jobs in the oil and gas industry, which is one of the biggest sources of Kuwait’s wealth.

9. Türkiye

Turkey inflation

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.838

Türkiye serves as a beautiful and multicultural bridge between Europe and Asia and is in the ninth spot on our list. It has an HDI index of 0.838 and an OECD safety score of 6.6.

Despite the lower safety score, the destination is popular with expatriates and retirees from all around the world thanks to its mild climate, diverse landscapes, and relatively cheap lifestyle compared to Western countries.

The Turkish economy has been experiencing challenging times in the last few years, with high rates of inflation and currency devaluation. So, if you’re looking to move to Istanbul, consider self-employment or a digital nomad lifestyle rather than being paid in lira for a local job, as the Turkish currency won’t go far.

8. Qatar

Qatar statistics

HDI index: 0.855

The host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup earned an HDI of 0.855 and the eighth spot on our list. Qatar’s biggest source of wealth lies in its natural gas reserves, which are second only to Russia. The country’s high GDP per capita is a significant reason for its high quality of life.

However, Qatar isn’t without its controversies. Like many countries in the region, it’s a very conservative nation, and class disparity can be stark, as many public services rely on migrant labor. It’s also more expensive than many other Arab nations.

7. Bahrain

Bahrain urbanization

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.875

The Kingdom of Bahrain is spread over 30 islands. Its multicultural society, high level of urbanization, and high standard of healthcare and quality of living are big reasons why it earned an HDI score of 0.875. Expats and migrants make up almost half of the country’s population.

The lion’s share of the country’s economy is in the oil and gas trade, as with many countries in the region. It’s, hence, no surprise that it offers comparatively high average monthly wages of $2,300 and even more to expats.

Despite being a Muslim country, it’s less conservative than its neighbors, such as Qatar, but expats are still expected to respect cultural norms.

6. Saudi Arabia

Saudi unemployment

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.875

The home of Mecca and the largest oil reserves in the world, Saudi Arabia has an HDI index of 0.875 – but given the country’s rampant gender discrimination, this doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

Saudi Arabia’s wealth means expats can earn high salaries and have an excellent standard of life. That’s usually the main draw for foreigners, along with excellent healthcare and top-of-the-line residential facilities for expatriates in designated compounds.



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Our final five entries focus on East Asia and countries touching the Pacific – though you might be surprised by the order of the entries.

5. UAE

UAE inflation

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.911

The highest-rated Middle Eastern country on our list is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its HDI index score is 0.911, and it’s considered one of the more liberal countries in the region, although it still has fairly strict laws. 

The most popular Emirates among expats are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The highly developed infrastructure, the world-class entertainment, and the luxury accommodation on offer are tempting for many economic migrants and investors from around the world.

If you’re lucky enough to have a prestigious job offer from UAE with a housing package, you can build a great life there. However, bear in mind that expat bubbles can be isolating, which is a drawback for many migrants.

4. South Korea

South Korea statistics

HDI index: 0.925

One of the global leaders in technological advancements, South Korea takes the fourth spot on our list. The country blends modernity and advancement with tradition and culture and has an HDI score of 0.925.

Despite a serious potential security threat from its northern neighbor, South Korea is an increasingly popular destination for tourists and expats alike, and many migrants work in tech or as English teachers.

South Korea isn’t a cheap country, with Seoul being one of the world’s most expensive cities, so make sure you have a good job offer or enough savings to support yourself. It might also be hard to get used to living without deodorant.

3. Japan

Japan urbanization

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.925

The first of our top three Asian nations is Japan, with an HDI score of 0.925, putting it on par with South Korea. The country is one of the world’s biggest economies and most innovative nations. That innovation, coupled with its rich culture and stunning scenery, are big drivers for migrants’ interest in Japan.

However, this advancement comes at a price. Japan is one of the world’s most expensive countries, and it has one of the worst work-life balance ratios. Japanese people typically work very long hours – a habit that expats are also expected to adopt. 

2. Singapore

ASEAN countries GDP statistics

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.939

Singapore might be one of the smallest countries in the world, but the city-state has earned an HDI index of 0.939 and second place on our list. Its equatorial climate, high levels of urbanization and technological advancement, and great business environment are big reasons why so many expats are drawn to it.

However, Singapore is an expensive country, like Japan. If you’re in a good position and are earning an above-average salary of $4,600 or more, chances are that your work-life balance isn’t great. Therefore, make sure to consider the pros and cons of moving to Singapore – both financially and for life outside of work.

1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong unemployment statistics

Source: Statista

HDI index: 0.952

It’s hard to say how the quality of life in Hong Kong will change as it becomes part of mainland China. However, the special administrative region is a leader for quality of life in Asia today, with an HDI of 0.952.

The city’s high life expectancy, widely spoken English, and mild climate are major attractions for expats and international firms. That said, Hong Kong is a very expensive place to live.


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