The Best Destinations for Expats

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By HSBC Expat, Special for  USDR


For the second year in a row, Singapore takes the top spot in HSBC’s Expat Explorer country league table. Expatriates in Singapore enjoy some of the world’s best financial rewards and career opportunities, while benefiting from an excellent quality of life and a safe, family-friendly  environment.

Expats’ ratings of 45 host countries are available to explore online through the Expat Explorer interactive tool:

More than three in five (62%) expats in Singapore say it is a good place to progress their career, with the same proportion seeing their earnings rise after moving to the country (compared with 43% and 42% respectively of expats globally). The average annual income for expats in Singapore is USD139,000 (compared with USD97,000across the world), while nearly a quarter (23%) earn more than USD200,000 (more than twice the global expat average of  11%).

Overall, 66% of expats agree that Singapore offers a better quality of life than their home country (compared to 52% of expats globally), while three quarters (75%) say the quality of education in Singapore is better than at home, the highest proportion in the world (global average  43%).

       Expat Explorer 2016 overall league table
    The best countries for expats to live and work
    1. Singapore
    2. New Zealand
    3. Canada
    4. Czech Republic
    5. Switzerland
    6. Norway
    7. Austria
    8. Sweden
    9. Bahrain


Now in its ninth year, Expat Explorer is the largest and one of the longest running surveys of expats, with 26,871 respondents sharing their views on life abroad including careers, financial wellbeing, quality of life and ease of settling for  children.

The 2016 Expat Explorer report also  reveals:

Millennials are drawn to expat life to find more purpose in their  careers

Nearly a quarter (22%) of expats aged 18-34 moved abroad to find more purpose in their career. This compares to 14% of those aged 34-54 and only 7% of those aged 55 and over. Millennials are also the most likely to embrace expat life in search of a new challenge: more than two in five (43%) say this, compared with 38% of those aged 34-54 and only 30% of those aged 55 and over. Millennials are finding the purpose they seek, with almost half (49%) reporting that they are more fulfilled at work than they were in their home  country.

Expat life accelerates progress towards financial  goals

Far from slowing progress towards their longer term financial goals, expats find many are fast tracked by life abroad. Around two in five expats say that moving abroad has accelerated their progress towards saving for retirement (40%) or towards buying a property (41%), compared to around one in five (20% and 19% respectively) whose move abroad has slowed their progress towards these financial goals. Almost a third (29%) of expats say living abroad has helped them to save towards their children’s education more quickly, compared to only 15% who say it has slowed them  down.

The top expat destinations for economics, experience and family  are:

        Economics          Experience           Family
    1. Switzerland     1. New Zealand     1. Sweden
    2. Singapore       2. Spain           2. Czech Republic
    3. Germany         3. Canada          3. Singapore
    4. Norway          4. Singapore       4. New Zealand
    5. UAE             5. Australia       5. Canada


#1 for Economics –  Switzerland

Switzerland shines for the second year in a row, offering unrivalled financial wellbeing and a strong economy for expats. Nearly nine in ten (87%) expats living there in Switzerland feel confident about the political stability of the country and four in five (80%) feel confident about its economy. Three quarters (75%) of expats say the earning prospects are better in Switzerland than they are back in their home country, with an average annual income ofUSD188,000. Nearly three quarters (71%) of expats in Switzerland are able to save more of their income there, while 73% now have more disposable income. This compares to global expat averages of 53% and 56%  respectively.

#1 for Experience – New  Zealand

New Zealand leads the way for an unrivalled expat experience. The vast majority (83%) of expats there praise the country’s environment (air pollution, water quality) as better than in their home country, and nearly three quarters (73%) say their quality of life has improved, which compares to 52% of expats globally. Nearly three quarters (72%) of expats are integrating well with the local people and culture, and the majority (57%) agree that New Zealand welcomes people regardless of faith, races, gender and sexual orientation better than their home  country.

#1 for Family –  Sweden

Sweden offers an excellent environment for expat families. Nearly three quarters (75%) of expat parents in Swedenrate their children’s quality of life as better than back home. Nearly half (46%) say the quality of education inSweden is better and 72% say it is less expensive. A similar proportion (75%) believe the quality of childcare available in Sweden is better than it is at  home.

Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat, comments:

“Expats consistently tell us that moving abroad has helped them achieve their ambitions and long-term financial goals, from getting access to better education for their children to buying property or saving more for retirement. Most expats also find that their quality of life has improved since making the move – and that they are integrating well with the local people and  culture.”

Follow Expat Explorer and join the debate  online:

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See how your country compares and read the report:

Notes to  editors    

About the Expat Explorer survey and country league  table

An expatriate is defined as anyone over 18 years old, currently living away from their country of origin/home  country.

The Expat Explorer survey was completed by 26,871 expats from 190 countries through an online questionnaire in March and April  2016.

A minimum sample of 100 expat respondents and at least 30 expat parents is required for a country to be included in the league tables, with 45 countries qualifying in  2016.

About HSBC  Group

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 4,400 offices in 71 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,608bn at 30 June 2016, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services  organisations.

About HSBC  Expat

HSBC Expat is a trading name of HSBC Bank International Limited. HSBC Expat is an award winning provider of expat financial services, with its head office based in Jersey, Channel Islands. It also has representation in Dubaiand Hong Kong. As part of HSBC Holdings plc, HSBC Expat has the experience to offer tailored financial solutions to customers living and working abroad. For more information visit:



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