Expat Explorer Survey: Which jurisdictions ‘best’ for wealth, earning prospects

China and Asia may represent the overseas markets of the future, and the United Arab Emirates may be known for its agreeable tax regime. But when it comes to the best overseas jurisdictions to live in for financial reasons, expats surveyed for the most recent edition of the HSBC Expat Explorers Survey named European countries as the top three, with Singapore coming in fourth and the UAE in fifth place. 

Switzerland topped the list, for the third year in a row, which the survey’s authors said reflected “the strong Swiss economy and stable political environment”, cited by these expats as among the reasons it made sense financially.

Almost nine in ten (89%) of the Switzerland-resident expats surveyed said they felt “confident about the economy” there, while 78% were reported to have said their earnings prospects there were “better than at home”.

As reported, the tenth annual edition of the  HSBC Expat Explorer survey went live this morning, detailing, as it does every year, the thoughts of expatriates around the world on a range of issues of concern to them.

The comprehensive (80 page) report based on the expat survey, of more than 27,500 expatriates, is broken into four main sections, consisting of an overall league table which measures average attitudes of expats on a range of issues, in addition to what the report’s authors call “three sub league tables”, on Economics, Experience and Family.

The Economics category looks at the impact moving abroad has on expats’ wealth, whereas the other two focus on health and quality of life, and which places are best for bringing up children.

While Switzerland took the top position in the “Economics” league table, Norway and Germany were almost tied for second place here, followed by Singapore.

Germany, according to the expatriates surveyed, is good for “career development, with 62% of expats in the country saying it is a good place to progress their career, compared with 54% globally”, according to a summary of the findings.

The UAE, in fifth place in the Economics league table and tenth place (up two places) in the overall category, continues to be a place where people actually move to improve their earnings (55% of those surveyed said this was why they were there, compared with 22% of expats globally).

(That said, “the benefits of life in the UAE are not just reserved to expat finances.,” the report’s authors quote the survey’s respondents as saying, with “more than half (55 %) [saying] their work/life balance is better [in the UAE] than at home, and more than three in five (62 %) say their overall quality of life has improved”.

It adds, “the same goes for families, with 66% of expat parents saying their children’s quality of life is better since the move” to the UAE.

Those expats living in Switzerland reported having the highest income of any of the expats surveyed, averaging US$193,ooo (see chart, below), compared with a global average of those surveyed of US$99,900.

Those expats living in India, China, the US and Hong Kong, in descending order, were the next-most highly paid.

Taxes, living expenses and other costs can make a significant difference, though, with the result that expats in Qatar reported having the greatest disposable income, followed by those living in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

To read more and download the report, click here.


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