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World’s most difficult cities for expats: The places you don’t want to get posted

Source: Flickr | Edwin Lee

Moving abroad can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make; new friends, new eating experiences, new horizons and endless opportunities.

But while there are many places in the world you can but dream about being posted to, there are some that even the most fearless adventurer should think twice about moving to:

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Source: Flickr | kath

Central America offers many incredible experiences but living in San Pedro is not one of them. While it may be the business and industrial capital of Honduras – producing almost two thirds of the country’s GDP – it also boasts the world’s highest homicide rate. According to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras an average of 85.5 per 100,000 residents are murdered every year, compared to 1.2 in the UK.

Things look especially bad if you work in the media, with at least 47 journalists and media executives murdered between 2003 and 2014. And if the high crime levels didn’t put you off there isn’t exactly an ‘expat scene’ with few cultural experiences and a sticky, oppressive climate.

Doha, Qatar

Source: Flickr | Chris Price

Doha is an incredibly popular location for many expats due to the big money to be made in property (real estate), construction and oil. But while moving to the Middle East may help the healthiness of your bank account it won’t do much for your lungs.

With an average PM2.5 pollution: 92 ug/m3 Qatar is the second most polluted country in the world. On top of the health implications Qatar is also among the least friendly places for expats in the world according to Expat Insider Survey 2014. Expats also complain the country offers few education options, an often unbearable climate and a rising cost of living.

Caracas, Venezuela

Source: Flickr | Julio César Mesa

Whilst this South American city offers some stunning views, it is a city not many expats ever sleep easy in due to its complicated currency situation, shortage of basic goods and terrifying crime levels. In fact, Caracas has the second highest homicide rate in the world.

On top of that, Venezuela as a county is becoming increasingly difficult to get stuff done, and was actually more corrupt in 2014 than it was in 2013 according to The Corruption Perceptions Index who awarded it the dubious title of the 14th most corrupt country in the world.

Birmingham, UK

Source: Flickr | Steve N

While this West Midlands city may not have the crime or pollution problems of some of the above cites, it doesn’t actually seem to have much else going on either. A worldwide survey by TripAdvisor saw the former manufacturing city nominated the most boring city in the whole of Europe… twice!

And if you were hoping that a lack of distractions might let you focus on finding love, you might need to think again, Birmingham was also voted the least romantic city in Europe. If that wasn’t enough it’s also the worst city in the UK for commuters who drive, with one in three drivers uninsured and serious congestion problems.

Tehran, Iran

Source: Flickr | Hrag Vartanian

With many opportunities for employment in oil and petrol Iran has until recent political developments provided lucrative opportunities for expats. But for a city famed for its history, culture and once thriving marketplace Tehran is not exactly the most comfortable place to live.

On top of heightened threats from terrorism, it is also a city highly at risk from natural disaster given its exposure to the Northern Anatolian fault, which is one of the most dangerous in the world. Iran also boasts the title of the 5th most polluted country in the world according to the World Health Organisation.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Source: Flickr | Raymond June

Known as the Big Durian (like the Big Apple…) Jakarta is known to many travellers as one of the world’s most demanding cities – it just doesn’t seem to get any easier when you live there. Not only is it hugely at risk from natural disasters, it is also a noisy, polluted and congested city making it almost impossible to get around without a driver.

Most expats find work in oil, gas, telecommunications, engineering or education but given Jakarta’s reluctance to give foreigners work permits, it can feel like it’s not worth the effort.