expat network

Singapore Tops HSBC Expat Explorer Survey Again

The HSBC Expat Explorer survey marks its 11th year and more than 22,000 people who have made the move to live abroad were questioned about their new life.

Singapore is rated the best destination for the fourth year in a row, followed closely by New Zealand, Germany, Canada and Bahrain.

This survey gives a wide range of information for each of 31 countries about the impact on the expat experience of personal finance, local economics and career progression, work/life balance and job security.  It also looks at the experience including the lifestyle in terms of quality of life, culture and health as well as the ease of integration, making friends and safety as well as issues around setting up finance, property and healthcare.  Finally, it looks at family impacts in terms of raising a family, education and childcare and relationships with partners as well as the social life and tolerance experienced.

The top five countries in the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2018 were:

#1 Singapore – The Lion City that roars for expats

 Singapore packs everything a budding expat could want into one of the world’s smallest territories, ranking 3rd for economics, 5th for families and 6th for experience. Those who move here see their earnings increase by 29 per cent to almost USD162,000 on average but, with a five and a half day working week common practice, just under a third (29 per cent) say their work life balance is worse than it was at home.

 #2 New Zealand – the answer to better health and wellbeing

The experience you get when you move abroad is about so much more than just making money, and nowhere is this truer than New Zealand. While a third (34 per cent) of all expats around the world moved abroad to improve their quality of life, in New Zealand the figure doubles to 60 per cent. With more than a third of the country made up of protected national parks, over half of people abroad there (56 per cent) become more physically active.

#3 Germany – time out not burn out

Although the average expat salary in Germany ($95,337) can’t match the Middle East or Asia, people still flock to Germany for its working culture. With the lowest average working hours around the world (26 hours a week), it’s no surprise that almost three quarters (71 per cent) relish improving their work/life balance.[1] Luckily, this doesn’t come at the expense of career development, with 58 per cent of expats saying it is a good place to progress their career.

 #4 Canada – a chance to become a local

 Canada’s aim to attract almost 1 million people from around the world to live and work in the country by 2020 makes it one of the friendliest destinations in the world. Becoming part of the local community in Canada is easy for people who move here, 70 per cent say they have integrated well with local people and culture and 51 per cent actually spend most of their time with locals.

Home to Toronto Pride, one of the biggest gay pride events in the world, expats rate Canada as the most welcoming country in the world regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or faith (68 per cent). Indeed, love is easy to find, with 57 per cent meeting their long-term partner there, compared to 48 per cent globally.

 #5 Bahrain – the economic challenger

 But starting to challenge the top spot as an economic powerhouse is Bahrain, which has jumped 4 places in the overall ranking. It has even overtaken financial services hub Hong Kong as its economy expands into banking, heavy industries, retail and tourism to come fifth in the Economics table. Just under half (45 per cent) of those surveyed moved there to improve their earnings and they aren’t disappointed, with 48 per cent) reporting their income is at least 50 percent higher and 80 per cent admitting they can pay off debts and save more.


2018 Expat Explorer League Table – the top 10

The best places to live and work as an expat:

1. Singapore – no change

2. New Zealand – no change

3. Germany – no change

4. Canada – no change

5. Bahrain +4 places

6. Australia -1 place

7. Sweden-1 place

8.Switzerland – no change

9.Taiwan +3 places

10.UAE -3 places


John Goddard, Head of HSBC Expat, comments:

“There are many reasons to move overseas, such as career progression, a better life for your family or just to embark on a new adventure. One thing is clear, those who do take the leap enjoy a world of different experiences, gaining new skills and learning about themselves along the way.

“Attracting the most vibrant international talent around is vital for any modern economy and Singapore is leading the charge again this year. Combining outstanding financial benefits, a bustling culture and top-class education system, Singapore is reaping the rewards of being the world’s most sought-after expat experience.

“Making that first step abroad requires courage but the rewards are well worth it. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into a new life, there is a lot to consider, whether it’s your visa, bank account or where you are going to live. Planning is key so that you can focus on what really matters – meeting new people, discovering a new country and finding a new perspective.”


You can explore the full results of the survey and look at the results for each of the 31 countries and territories at  https://expatexplorer.hsbc.com/survey/.


[1] https://data.oecd.org/emp/hours-worked.htm