expat network

Expats Rank Best Locations For Career Progression And Workplace Benefits

Career Progression


HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey looks at many aspects of expat life each year.  Here we set out this year’s survey’s ranking of the best locations for career progression, start a business and workplace benefits around the world according to expats.



The survey of over 20,000 people, including over 13,500 employees who relocate to work abroad, reveals the top locations for expats to accelerate their careers and achieve their professional goals.  Here are the top ranking destinations:

1.Hong Kong


3.Mainland China

=3 USA


=4 UAE








As the prospect of global mobility slowly begins to reopen for employees, HSBC’s 14th annual Expat Explorer study indicates that expats are feeling optimistic about their careers overseas. Many still aspire to relocate abroad for work, and the pandemic hasn’t changed their ambition – 8 in 10 expats (80%) say they intend to continue living in their host location for the next year at least, with only 7% planning to move back home.

A third (33%) of expats are now optimistic about living in their host location for the next 12 months because of the career opportunities available to them and the same amount (33%) would recommend moving abroad in the next year to increase earnings.


Entrepreneurial expats

When it comes to places to set up a new business, almost a fifth of expats (19%) say that living in their new host location will help them start/develop a new business. The most popular places for expat entrepreneurs to start a business are Indonesia, South Africa and Bahrain.

Top locations for entrepreneurial expats to start their own business:


2.South Africa





=7. Mexico

=7. UAE

  1. Isle of Man

=8. Mainland China

  1. Russia
  2. Japan

=10. Turkey


Professionals’ priorities 

The study suggests that many expats are prioritising their wellbeing and balanced working approaches – such as flexible working (68%) and shared parental leave (50%) when considering their host locations and/or future places they may live. This compares against traditional factors such as improved earnings (23%) and promotions (25%).

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) expats see flexible working as an important factor when thinking about their host location, and over a quarter (28%) believe that living in their host location gives them greater opportunity for flexible working hours – more than their home nation. Expats located in Jersey (85%), Russia (82%), India (78%) and Bermuda (78%) feel that flexible working is one of their most important benefits.


Cameron Senior, Interim Head of HSBC Expat, said:

“As the world begins to open up, our study highlights how global mobility has not diminished – with borders reopening in several locations, expats are looking forward to exciting opportunities in the year ahead, so they can continue exploring and accelerating their careers.

“Our findings show how the majority intend to continue living in the same location for the foreseeable future and how priorities continue to shift for an increasingly dynamic and hybrid workforce. This, combined with more people beginning to move abroad again, opens up a world of possibilities and benefits for employees and employers alike.”


 Employers’ perspectives

Just as employees are adjusting to new working models, so are companies. Expats’ desire to live and work abroad looks set to coincide with global hiring sprees, as – according to HSBC’s Navigator study (a separate survey among 2,000+ corporate decision-makers) – seven in ten (70%) companies plan to increase their workforce over the next 12 months.

Correlating with Expat Explorer, the Navigator study also highlights the appetite to manage employees’ wellbeing, as over a third (36%) of those surveyed for Navigator recognise that employees’ physical and mental wellbeing is now just as important to them as salary and benefits. Navigator also finds further increased awareness among business leaders regarding employees’ priorities, as almost two in five (39%) said flexible working policies are a top factor for their business when it comes to attracting candidates.

Cameron added: 

“Global expats have shown real resilience during the pandemic, facing the same challenges as many of us, all while likely being away from friends and family. However, their continued optimism and appetite to continue their overseas journeys are admirable. Moving abroad at any stage is a big life decision and career factors can be an important deciding element. HSBC Expat is steadfast in its determination to support expats in an increasingly globalised world and be there for our customers throughout the process of living and working abroad.”


Motivations for moving 

When it comes to relocating abroad for work, motivation differs between genders. For men, the key factor is to progress their career (a third of men 34%, compared to a fifth of women 19%); followed by improving earning and savings (over a quarter of men 28%, compared to only 16% of women).

For women, the importance of being with their partner is a greater factor than for men (just 5% for men, compared to 15% for women). This is also similar for being nearer friends and family (8% for men, compared to 10% for women). Overall, men feel more welcome and secure (45%) in their host location than women (37%); in terms of feeling safer and more secure in general, women feel slightly less safe than men (46% compared to 51%).