The World's Most Up and Coming Cities for Expats in 2021
You’re thinking of moving abroad, but you don’t want to end up somewhere expensive and tired, like New York, Paris, or Sydney. You’re planning for the future.
You want to choose a city on the rise, preferably one of the next global powerhouses, that’s embraced cutting-edge industries or made investments that are just about to pay off big time.
You’ve come to the right place, because we’ve carried out all the research for you. Dotted across the world, these are the under-the-radar cities with the brightest futures.
By 2030, Luanda will have an annual GDP of $138 billion (£99.5 billion) – the third-biggest in Africa, according to Oxford Economics.
This growth will be driven by the numerous industries that operate out of this port city, which has continuously built up its infrastructure and commercial capacity since the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002.
With two universities producing a steady stream of skilled workers, oil exports funding massive improvements, and long-awaited political stability holding steady, Luanda is an attractive place for expats looking to the future.
Angola’s capital is poised to rise faster than any other African city apart from Johannesburg – and you could get in on the ground floor.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£128|
|Average cost of a pint||£4.31|
Rwanda’s capital city has been united by the principle of umuganda, which means ‘coming together for a common purpose’, and takes the form of community service.
The law compels each household to clean, repair, or maintain their city on one Saturday per month – and the resultant communal spirit has produced a thriving creative and entrepreneurial hub.
The story of Kigali is one of overcoming trauma, of green shoots emerging through ground soaked with the blood of unimaginable horrors.
In 1994, the Hutu-led Rwandan government organised the slaughter of at least 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu people, in one of the deadliest genocides in history.
The country is still coming to terms with this 100-day period of bloodshed, but Kigali is on the rise, allowing locals to look forward to a brighter future.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£242|
|Average cost of a pint||72p|
Kigali has overcome the horrendous genocide to move onto a better and brighter future
There will come a time when Tallinn loses its status as the most exciting tech centre you’ve never heard of, but we’re not there yet.
One-third of the Estonian population live in this stunning capital, where the wifi and public transport is free, and beachfront promenades line the city.
Tallinn’s innovative culture has enabled this small Baltic nation to produce an incredible seven unicorns – that is, start-ups with a value over $1 billion (£720,000).
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£402|
|Average cost of a pint||£3.44|
Gdansk is steeped in history. This is where the trade union Solidarity was formed in 1980 – an ignition point that sparked Poland’s ultimately successful decade-long struggle against Soviet rulers for a democratic government.
It was also the site of the Second World War’s first military conflict in Europe, the Battle of Westerplatte. The war devastated the city and its populace, but Gdansk has rebuilt since those dark days.
Having broken free of Nazi and Communist rulers last century, this beautiful port city – which hosted the 2021 Europa League final, as well as four games at Euro 2012 – is now flourishing.
It’s jam-packed with gorgeous architecture, beautiful, thriving waterways, and an economy that’s producing a multitude of exciting companies, from craft breweries to startups.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£519|
|Average cost of a pint||£1.89|
Gdansk had to rebuild after the the Second World War – and it looks beautiful
Officially known as Bengaluru, this southern Indian city is ready to explode into a rapidly expanding tech hub over the next decade.
This will help the city to increase its GDP by 8.5% by 2035, according to the World Economic Forum – the highest growth of any city in the world.
India’s answer to Silicon Valley is also home to a prolific film industry, and topped the government’s Ease of Living Index in 2021.
The city achieved this ranking largely thanks to its economic ability score, which was the highest in India by far, underlining its position as one of the world’s most exciting places to be.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£136|
|Average cost of a pint||£1.45|
Between now and 2035, Dhaka will have the second-highest rate of GDP growth worldwide, at 7.6%, according to the World Economic Forum.
In past years, the overpopulated capital has struggled severely to build infrastructure at a rate that keeps pace with its population growth, resulting in flooding, traffic jams, and horrific sewage issues.
However, the completion of around a dozen projects over the next few years is set to improve the city's transport, waste processing, and energy systems beyond recognition, at a cost of $39.2 billion (£28 billion).
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£179|
|Average cost of a pint||£3.17|
Isfahan used to sit on the crossroads between the vertical and horizontal trade routes that covered central Asia, leading to the saying “Isfahan is half the world”.
This former imperial capital has risen once more, and is now Iran’s third-most populous city, buoyed by increasing tourism.
450,000 tourists visited this ancient city in the year ending March 2020, which represented a 700% increase in the past seven years.
With its mosques, gardens, and museums radiating breathtaking beauty around every corner, there’s every reason to suspect that Isfahan’s tourism industry will continue to soar.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£303|
|Average cost of a pint||72p|
Isfahan's Shah Mosque is one of the most stunning monuments to the Persian empire
There are many other up and coming Chinese cities – the historic Chongqing and inventive Shenzhen are great examples – but Tianjin stands out.
A burgeoning financial centre is set to elevate Tianjin over the next decade, while its numerous universities have already made the city the 24th-best in the world for scientific research, according to Nature.
There’s also a glut of cultural attractions to explore in this north-eastern port city. From the theme park aboard a former Soviet Union aircraft carrier to Haihe Cultural Square and the enormous Tianjin Eye ferris wheel, you’ll never be bored.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£252|
|Average cost of a pint||66p|
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Located in tropical lowlands east of the Andes mountains, Bolivia’s most populous city has doubled in size since 1996, while growing into the country’s economic hub.
Around one-third of Bolivia’s GDP is created here, where colonial buildings mix with art galleries and market stalls selling sweet, spicy, meat-filled pastries called salteñas.
And with its charming national parks, UNESCO World Heritage site, and botanical garden that contains sloths and capuchin monkeys, the city is much more than just a commercial centre.
This abundance of culture and nature in Santa Cruz de la Sierra means its star is set to keep rising.
|Average monthly cost of rent (one bed)||£292|
|Average cost of a pint||£1.36|