Where do expats most enjoy living and working?

The eleventh annual HSBC Expat Explorer survey launches today. It's business as usual in the first four places, but with some notable shifts further down the top ten of the best places to live and work.

Picture of traveller looking at a map
Although there is no change at the top for the best place to live and work for expats this year, with Singapore, New Zealand, Germany and Canada holding on to the highest rankings (first, second, third and fourth respectively), their dominance is being seriously challenged by Bahrain. The Arabian Gulf island state moves up four places to number five out of 31 countries in the survey, thanks to the promise of higher earnings and disposable income, and more opportunities as its economy diversifies from oil and gas.
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Bahrain – the economic challenger?

On the Economics measure of the Expat Explorer survey, Bahrain has even overtaken financial services hub Hong Kong as its economy expands into banking, heavy industries, retail and tourism.Just under half (45%) of those surveyed moved there to improve their earnings. Close to half (48%) report their income is at least 50% higher, and 80% agreeing they can pay off debts and save more.

Head to Singapore for the best all-round experience

Singapore, crowned this year as the best place to be an expat by the 22,000 respondents to HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey for the fourth year in a row, also offers the prospect of an average 29% pay rise and the best all-round experience.“Attracting the most vibrant international talent around is vital for any modern economy and Singapore is leading the charge again this year,” commented John Goddard, Head of HSBC Expat.“Combining outstanding financial benefits, a bustling culture and top-class education system, Singapore is reaping the rewards of being the world’s most sought-after expat experience.”

Working and playing hard

One of the world’s smallest territories, Singapore ranks third for economics, fifth for families and sixth for experience. Ninety-five per cent of expats in Singapore have people who are local as part of their social circle and 69% settle in less than a year. Just under half (45%) also find lasting love in the city.However, the high average salaries of almost USD162,00 come at a cost. A five-and-a-half day working week is common practice. Just under a third (29%) say their work-life balance is worse than it was at home. 

New Zealand the answer to improving quality of life

As most people will agree, the expatriate experience is about much more than simply making money. A third (34%) of all expats around the world moved abroad to improve their quality of life. This figure doubled to 60% for people headed to New Zealand, which offers a huge area of protected national parks. Over half of people (56%) moving here said they become more physically active.

Germany also scores highly for work-life balance

Although the average expat salary in Germany (USD95,337) can’t match the Middle East or Asia, people still head to Germany for its working culture. It has among the lowest average working hours in the world (26 hours a week), with 71% of expatriates here enjoying their improved work-life balanceand its career development opportunities (58%). 

Canada – a chance to become a local

Canada’s aim to attract almost a million people from around the world to live and work in the country by 2020 makes it one of the friendliest destinations in the world. Becoming part of the local community in Canada is easy for people who move here, 70% say they have integrated well with local people and culture and 51% actually spend most of their time with locals. Home to Toronto Pride, one of the biggest gay pride events in the world, expats rate Canada as the most welcoming country in the world regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or faith (68%). Indeed, love is easy to find, with 57% meeting their long-term partner there, compared to 48% globally.
Relocate Magazine Autumn Issue 2018
Read Canadian Employee Relocation Council's (CERC) Steven Cryne's view on the trends impacting global mobility to and from Canada in the Autumn issue of Relocate magazine. Out now!

Planning your international relocation

“There are many reasons to move overseas, such as career progression, a better life for your family or just to embark on a new adventure,” continues John Goddard. “One thing is clear, those who do take the leap enjoy a world of different experiences, gaining new skills and learning about themselves along the way. “Making that first step abroad requires courage but the rewards are well worth it. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into a new life, there is a lot to consider, whether it’s your visa, bank account or where you are going to live. Planning is key so that you can focus on what really matters - meeting new people, discovering a new country and finding a new perspective.” 

2018 Expat Explorer League Table – the top 10 best places to live and work as an expat

Last year's position in brackets.
  1. Singapore (=)
  2. New Zealand (=)
  3. Germany (=)
  4. Canada (=)
  5. Bahrain (+4)
  6. Australia (-1)
  7. Sweden (-1)
  8. Switzerland (=)
  9. Taiwan (+3)
  10. UAE (-3)
Head to the International Assignments section for more features and insight on the world's best places to live and work. 
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