Expats earn $21,000 more by moving abroad: HSBC survey

Pedro Gonçalves
Expats earn $21,000 more by moving abroad: HSBC survey

The average expat adds an extra $21,000 to their annual salary by moving overseas, with the best-paid staff found in Switzerland, the US and Hong Kong, according to new research.

Some 45% of those who responded to the HSBC Expat Explorer survey say they got more money for the same job by moving abroad, while 28% said they got a promotion.

Now in its 11th year, the HSBC Expat Explorer survey gathered the views of 22,318 expats about their experiences abroad, based on that each country is given an Expat Explorer overall score – an average of the ‘economics’, ‘experience’, and ‘family’ scores which covers 27 key criteria from the survey.

Singapore topped a ranking as the overall best place for expatriates to live and work for a fourth straight year, beating New Zealand, Germany and Canada.

But the highest expat salaries are found elsewhere. Of the 163 countries and territories surveyed, respondents had the biggest average annual salaries in Switzerland ($202,865), the United States ($185,119) and Hong Kong.

Foreign nationals in Hong Kong earn an average salary of US$178,706 a year, US$72,000 more than the average expatriate globally.

This only behind Switzerland at $202,865 and the US at $185,119. Expatriates in mainland China, who ranked second in Asia-Pacific, earn an average of $172,678 while in Singapore they earn $162,172.

The average expat salary in the UAE is the sixth highest in the world, with  the annual paycheque pegged at a little over $155,000.

The high salaries in Hong Kong come at a price, with 50% of expatriates saying they worked longer hours after moving here. A big reason why expats prefer to live and work in the Lion City.

In terms of career, 45% of all expats in Singapore (compared to a global average of 35%) said they initially made the move to Singapore for a career opportunity. While another 69% agreed that it’s a good place to progress their career (global average: 56%).

Financially, 38% (global average: 24%) moved to Singapore to improve their earnings, earning an average of $162,000 ($56,000 more than the global average). Apart from that, almost half (45%) stated moving to Singapore has enabled them to begin saving to buy a property (global average: 33%), while 59% said it has enabled them to begin saving for retirement (global average: 37%).

When it comes to their personal lives, just under half (45%) of those surveyed in Singapore say they found a long-term partner in the republic. Furthermore, with Singapore considered the best country or territory in the world for education, 60% of expat parents in Singapore (global average: 45%) found their children’s health and well-being to be better here than at home.

“Singapore packs everything a budding expat could want into one of the world’s smallest territories,” HSBC said, citing the huge number of perks on offer.

Bigger salaries, along with career growth and greater quality of life, are among the top considerations for expatriates when making the decision to move to another country.

John Goddard, head of HSBC Expat, said: “A taste of life in a new location can be the key to unlocking your creative potential, finding the work/life balance you’ve been craving, or taking your career in a new direction.”

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