Before relocating abroad, there are several factors to consider: how the move will affect your everyday life and family; whether the health care system will satisfy your demands; and the impact on your emotional well-being and bank account (for starters). To that end, HSBC, a worldwide financial services business that understands expats’ concerns, is here to assist. The results of the company’s annual Expat Explorer Survey were recently announced. The survey questions, which were distributed to over 22,000 expats worldwide, and the ensuing rankings were divided into three main categories, or “leagues”—Living, Aspiring, and Little Expats—and each was taken into account when establishing the overall rankings. Counting down from 10, here are the greatest nations in which to reside for expats right now.
Vietnam is an excellent alternative for seasoned expats, enticed by the vibrant culture and persuaded to stay by friendly locals. The country entered the top ten this year as a result of its excellent financial stability, favorable work-life balance, and welcoming atmosphere for newcomers. The majority of expats surveyed reported that they were able to swiftly acclimatize to the local way of life, feeling at ease within a few months of arrival. We’re sure the country’s stunning natural beauty contributes something as well.
9. United Arab Emirates
Only around 11% of the population of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates are Emiratis: The vast majority of residents of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any of the other five emirates are foreign nationals. We’re speculating that the surge in expats is due in large part to job possibilities and income increases: In the UAE, young professionals under the age of 35 earn an average of 50% more. Additionally, the country receives excellent honors for its rapid promotion rate within any particular employment area, and it ranks #1 in terms of discretionary income. (More funds should be directed toward researching Africa and eastern Europe, we argue.)
Respondents reported an overwhelmingly favorable experience with expat living in Germany, particularly in terms of economic indicators such as job progression opportunities and a significant increase in work-life balance. However, clichés aside, efficiency and productivity are not everything: The country’s vibrant culture, natural beauty, and robust social security system all appeal to expats, particularly those seeking a welcoming atmosphere in which to raise a family while advancing their careers.
According to the rankings, Turkey is one of the greatest nations in the world for expats wishing to expand their lives professionally and culturally. The country’s high showing this year (it did not reach the top ten last year) is largely due to the ease with which it is possible to relocate there: It is now ranked first in terms of “easy of adjustment” and “welcoming communities.” Turkey also earns points for money and job advancement, while youngsters benefit from excellent education and welcoming local families.
Yes, moving to a new location can improve your health—at least, that is what Australian poll respondents claim. Over half of people who have relocated to Australia claim improved health, compared to a global average of just over 35%. Around three-quarters of respondents stated that the natural environment and easy access to it are preferable to what they have at home, which naturally translates to greater time spent outdoors. Anyone up for a swim in the rock pools?
5. New Zealand
This year, New Zealand is ranked fifth (a slight drop from its second-place position last year). Expats benefit from the relaxed pace of life in the country, having more free time after work to explore the adventure capital of the world’s vast array of activities. All of this results in the majority of new citizens experiencing a higher standard of living and mental well-being than they did in their native country. New Zealand ranks near the top of all survey measures for work-life balance and political stability; add to that a high level of citizen safety and friendliness, and this is one country that expats may never want to leave.
When deciding to relocate overseas, there are factors to consider beyond employment prospects—especially if you’re relocating with children. Not only are there emotional and psychological consequences to raising children in a new culture, but there are also the perplexing logistics of navigating a new school or child care system. That is, unless you are relocating to Spain. When it comes to family vacations, few destinations compare to Spain: The country is ranked second overall in terms of “Little Expats,” a category that includes education, schooling, and meeting new acquaintances. And with the country’s great climate, relaxed work settings (hello, siestas), and high levels of mental and physical wellness among its population, expats will undoubtedly experience an improved quality of life if they choose to call Spain home.
Canada is the only North American country to make the top ten; the United States is ranked 23rd. It is ranked best in total quality of life, which includes political stability, ease of relocating, mental health, and general fulfillment. Canada is ranked the most tolerant and accepting of people of diverse races, genders, sexual orientations, and faiths among the 33 countries studied by HSBC. And we haven’t even discussed the country’s natural splendor. (And it is rather lovely.)
Singapore has traditionally been one of the greatest nations for expats to live and work—it was ranked top for four consecutive years and is now placed second. Education can be a huge issue when relocating with children, but not in Singapore, which consistently achieves top rankings for school excellence. Parents also benefit from the move: Singapore ranks #1 in terms of employment security and income growth. Thus, it benefits from all of those statistics. What about the katong laksa, chili crab, and char kway teow, on the other hand? Let’s face it—the real reason expats like Singapore is because of the gourmet paradises that are its hawker centers.
With wonderfully clean streets, easy access to some of the world’s best ski slopes, and a plenty of cheese, it’s unsurprising that Switzerland took the top spot this year. It is not only because everything works so perfectly, though that does play a role (only one percent of surveyed expats said they were concerned about the economy). Switzerland is home to two of the world’s most expensive cities, yet salaries reflect this high cost of living. In Switzerland, the average annual wage for expats is—are you ready for this?— $203,000, about double the average for foreigners surveyed by HSBC. Money speaks for itself when it comes to Switzerland’s position at the table, but there are other factors to consider, such as education. Just over half of respondents with families reported that their children were attending schools that were superior to those back home.