The list of popular expat destinations has long included Northern Europe and Switzerland, known for their happiness, famed healthcare programs, and exceptional quality of life.

These countries still retain some of the top spots, but this year the top expat destination belongs to a country in the opposite hemisphere: Ecuador.

The 2014 InterNations Expat Insider survey states that this South American country is becoming a hub for expats looking to take advantage of the financial benefits they can reap there.

Ecuador came in first on the personal finance and cost of living indexes, and it also ranks the highest of all surveyed countries for ease of making friends. About 82% of expats also said they find it easy to settle down and feel at home in Ecuador. The country also ranks first for personal happiness, and 42% of expats living there say the plan to stay “possibly forever.”

RankCountry
1Ecuador
2Luxembourg
3Mexico
4Switzerland
5U.S.
6Singapore
7Spain
8Philippines
9Australia
10Hong Kong

The top expat nationalities and countries of origin are the U.S. and UK, but English is not the official language for half of the top ten most popular countries for expats. And four of the top five have official languages other than English. Expats feel this is one downturn to living in Ecuador, for example, where a third of them said it’s difficult to live there without speaking Spanish. Still, another third said learning the language was easy, and English is still prevalent in most of the top countries where English isn’t the official language.

Ecuador is followed by Luxembourg, Mexico, Switzerland, and the U.S, with Luxembourg and Switzerland ranking high for quality of life and working abroad. Mexico ranks highest for ease of settling in, and the percentage of expats wanting to stay there forever at 44% is even higher than Ecuador. Roughly one in three people also said their relocation to Mexico is work-related.

For American expats, the top three countries they move to are Germany, Italy and China, and one-third of them are working, with 47% working in a manager-type role.

Photo Credit: A street festival in Latacunga, Ecuador. jose pereira / Flickr