Global Migration: How safe do you feel in your country?

Do you feel safe where you live, and is safety a major factor when you choose an overseas country to move to? Find out how other people feel and how you might gauge the safety of a place.

Adult hand holding a child's

I think the only place where I have not felt safe as an expat, somewhat bizarrely, was in Costa Rica. Bizarre because Costa Rica is the land that’s often quoted as the happiest, most peaceful country on the planet, according to the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index. So, I expected to feel safe there.

However, we often heard gun shot at night. Locals said not to worry it was probably just drunks or quarrels between locals and economic migrants from neighbouring Nicaragua. Either way, the gun shot made me feel unsafe – especially having two young children in tow.

Is there a link between a peaceful society and safety? I’d say there certainly is, yes. And the latest Gallup Global Law and Order report, which looks at people’s personal safety in their community and the relationship between these feelings and a nation’s economic and social development, agrees.

The report is based on a recently conducted 2017 Gallup World Poll (conducted in 135 countries) which asked these four questions:

1. In the city or area where you live, do you have confidence in the local police force?
2. Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?
3. Within the last 12 months, have you had money or property stolen from you or another household member?
4. Within the past 12 months, have you been assaulted or mugged?

Woman holding cut out of a four-person family

Gallup compiles the “positive” responses to these four questions into a Law and Order Index score for each country. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling safe. The index score for the whole world in 2016 is 78 out of a possible 100. Singapore has the highest score at 97, followed by Uzbekistan and Iceland. Sixty-six countries posted scores lower than this average (France was just above at 78).

The Top 15 countries where you’re most likely to feel safe (with index score out of 100)

1. Singapore 97
2. Uzbekistan 95
3. Iceland 92
4.Turkmenistan 91
5. Norway 91
6. Switzerland 90
7. Algeria 90
8. Finland 90
9. Jordan 89
10. Vietnam 89
11. Luxembourg 88
12. Austria 88
13. Canada 88
14. Hong Kong 88
15. Spain 88

Singapore harbour with couple walking along
Marina Bay, Singapore – the safest place in the world, according to Gallup

Do you think Gallup’s questions are a good judge of a location’s safety? Would knowing that a place had a low ranking put you off choosing it? France, for example, gets a score of 78 – only just above the Palestinian Territories, which I think most of us would be forgiven for thinking has questionable safety.

Here’s another related post that you might find interesting and useful too: ‘How to choose the most peaceful country for you and your family’.