Expats making the most of pandemic relocations

Covid-19 might have taken a heavy toll on global mobility over the past 18 months, but most expatriates already abroad remain optimistic about the prospects for the coming year, according to a new survey.

Family smiling against Seaview and taking selfie
HSBC's annual Expat Explorer – a survey based on responses from more than 20,000 people living and working abroad – found that three-quarters believed the coming 12 months offered the opportunity for life to return to "normal".Optimism was highest among expats in Taiwan (85%), closely followed by those in Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam (all 83%)."As the world has been in a state of flux during the pandemic, the study suggests that locations where a sense of stability has been maintained ranked highly," said HSBC.
Related reading from Relocate Global

Lifestyle being prioritised

This year's survey, which questions expats over the economics, experiences and family benefits of their host nation, rated Switzerland as the best country in which to live and work.And the survey found that the desire to work abroad had not been diminished by the pandemic with 80% of respondents planning to remain in their current location for at least the next year, and only 7% planning to move.HSBC said the responses also indicated that expats were prioritising personal lifestyle choices rather than traditional relocation drivers, such as career progression (cited by only 34%) or expanding professional networks, which was important to 31%.The top five priorities that expats said they were looking forward to in the coming year were getting to know the local area, travelling, understanding and exploring local culture, making new friends, and going out more.

Quality of life better abroad

Some 67% of respondents said their current quality of life was better in their current location, with those in Indonesia and the UAE (both 51%) feeling the strongest sense of fulfilment since relocating.On the downside, expats reported some of the challenges they had faced since the arrival of the pandemic, with 90% saying they had been unable to see family and/or friends in their home countries.

Reason for optimism 

Cameron Senior, interim head of HSBC Expat, said: "Despite incredibly challenging times, I am encouraged to see sparks of optimism among global expats. Our study confirms that expats continue to thrive in their host countries and many are looking forward to remaining there for the foreseeable future."Following many months of uncertainty, I'm heartened to hear how expats are benefiting from relocating – over two-thirds told us they feel their quality of life is better now, albeit with a lot of changes."Despite their positivity, I'm very mindful of the disruption they have experienced (which remains ongoing in certain locations) including their ability to see family or friends in their home countries, and travel for business."So much has changed for global expats but I'm impressed by their resilience and optimism for the future. As the world begins to adjust, HSBC Expat is committed to opening up a world of opportunity for our customers who relocate overseas. We are dedicated to offering support to help them navigate and succeed in an increasingly globalised world."

Expats ranked the following locations as the top 10 places to live and work in 2021:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Australia
  3. New Zealand
  4. UAE
  5. Guernsey
  6. Jersey
  7. Isle of Man
  8. Bahrain
  9. Singapore
  10. Qatar 

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory

Related Articles