Motivations for living abroad are wide ranging but what is clear is that expat life has become a real consideration for many over the last few years.
It is not just career progression that attracts individuals (and often their families) overseas, although it can be a compelling factor. Many are relocating to better their quality of life, experience new cultures and set new personal challenges. The Expat Explorer Survey commissioned by HSBC grades quality of life and preferences in over 100 countries, surveying over 22,000 respondents . The research looked at a number of factors ranging from respondents’ finances to the quality of life for their children, generating a league table of expat destinations. Here are the top 10 countries favoured in 2015:
Switzerland takes the top spot in the survey’s Economics league table and finishes in tenth position overall. 83% of expats believe job security in Switzerland is as good as, if not better than their native country and over 75% expressed confidence in the Swiss economy. Over half claim that Switzerland is great for career progression with high wages serving as an added attraction. However Switzerland ranks lower overall for expat experience and for raising a family (26th and 25th respectively).
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also features highly in the economics league table coming in at an impressive 4th position and ranking 9th in the overall table. High salaries and generous employee benefit packages are a big attraction for expats, with the former compensating for the high cost of living. Annual airfare allowances for trips back home make the UAE an ideal destination for expats. 68% of respondents in the UAE receive this benefit: twice the global average. Outside of economic opportunities however, the UAE does not rank as highly as other destinations. The cost of raising children is high and expats also find it more difficult to integrate with local people.
Taiwan scores highly for Life Experience (coming in 5th place) and at 8th place in the overall league table. Taiwan is also one of safest countries for expats, with 75% finding Taiwan to be safer for children than their home country. Finding accommodation, integrating with locals and arranging childcare are also easy according to expats. However the financial aspects of life in Taiwan are not as positive with less than a third of respondents (31%) saying that earning prospects are better than at home.
Australia is a destination for many expats seeking adventure and not surprisingly, comes in at 4th place in the league table for Life Experience. Indeed 53% say they moved to Australia to improve their quality of life. A majority (61%) also claim to have a better work/life balance in Australia than they do at home and over 75% claim to have integrated very well. The economic side is also quite positive, as over half say that Australia is good for career progression.
Coming in at 6th place in the overall Expat Explorer league table, Canada also ranks in the top 10 for family life. 66% of expats claim the quality of life is better than at home. 75% claimed that integrating with locals and culture was easy. Almost three-quarters of parents agreed that their children’s lives had improved since moving to Canada and many agree that Canada’s decreasing crime rate also makes it a safer destination for raising a family.
Germany comes in at 5th place in the overall Expat Explorer Survey and ranks highly in all of the economic and lifestyle categories. Economic confidence is strong with 82% of expats in Germany expressing confidence in the local economy and over half of respondents confirming that their career has progressed since moving here. Most expats rent properties however as real estate is so expensive in Germany. Nevertheless, for work-life balance Germany ranks as one of the top destinations for expats.
Most expats are drawn to Bahrain’s capital Manama and it’s a fact that almost half the country’s population is made up of migrant workers and expats. Much more liberal than its fellow Islamist state neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Bahrain proves a popular destination owing to its exciting career prospects. High disposable income coupled with ease of integration for expats also add to an impressive work-life balance. Bahrain also scores highly as a place to raise children – 65% of expat parents believe that children have a better quality of life here than in their home country.
In 3rd position under the 3 overall criteria, Sweden finished in poll position based on family life alone with a staggering 79% of expat parents responding that childcare was better there than in their home country. The education system, living environment and government policy on the family were three areas highlighted by expats which made Sweden the number one choice for families. Another attractive feature for expats is the 480 days of leave given to new parents to look after children and the added flexibility of splitting this between both parents. Sweden also finished 6th in the Economics table, with expats citing its stable economy and good prospects for career progression as attractive features.
Ranking 1st in the Experience league table and 2nd place overall, New Zealand offers expats family-friendly amenities with richness of culture and ease of integration in all aspects of society. Expats also claim to have become more active since moving here, citing the country’s geography and scenic landscape as contributing factors. 77% of expats claim their quality of life is better here than at home and the ease of setting up finances and accommodation was also mentioned. Finishing 2nd in the Family league table, New Zealand is also an attractive location for raising a family with 76% of parents believing their children are healthier living there.
The top spot in overall in the Expat Explorer Survey 2015 goes to Singapore. This city state was voted number one for its bountiful job opportunities, very high salaries, impressive range of things to do and see and the general lifestyle on offer here. Singapore also ranked in the top 3 destinations in each league table. Many expats settle in Singapore long-term and almost half (46%) have been here for over 5 years. The financial and career rewards are a huge attraction for expats with 28% earning over USD 200,000 per annum. This compares to the global average of just 13%. For families, setting up finances and access to healthcare is hassle –free and many expat parents (66%) believe that the education system is better than at home. Singapore also offers a very attractive social life with more than 75% of expats saying theirs is just as active if not more so than it was in their home country.
According to the survey, the south East Asian countries of Malaysia, China, Indonesia and the Philippines make it into the top 5 for job satisfaction, whilst those seeking employee benefits choose the Middle East for its attractive offerings. Although New Zealand was chosen as the overall destination for life experience, Spain was chosen as the best European destination for expats seeking to enjoy a better life. The survey also found that learning the language is an important part of the expat experience. For British expats, lifestyle improvement is a big motivation for moving abroad with climate a big factor in the choice of country. For this reason, Australia, Spain and France were the top destinations for British expats according to the survey.
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