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Switzerland is the best place for expat life

The Expat Explorer survey, conducted by YouGov, is one of the largest global surveys of expats. This year, nearly 9,300 expats from around the world shared their views on quality of life, financial wellbeing and the ease of raising a family abroad. 

Expat Explorer League Table 2014

1. Switzerland

2. Singapore

3. China

4. Germany

5. Bahrain

6. New Zealand

7. Thailand

8. Taiwan

9. India

10. Hong Kong









Switzerland comes top for a balanced life abroad

The survey reveals that expats living in Switzerland enjoy the best of expat life, with the country ranking first out of 34 countries.

From a financial wellbeing perspective, Switzerland emerges as a destination to advance career prospects and receive a healthy salary while also maintaining a good work / life balance. One quarter (25%) of expats in Switzerland earn more than USD200,000 p.a., yet over half (51%) report a better work / life balance since moving.

Expats in Switzerland also have a lot of confidence in the local economy, with almost half (47%) saying they are very satisfied with the state of the local economy – the highest proportion for any country included in this year’s survey.

Many expats in Switzerland comment on the country’s high quality of air and pleasant surroundings, with three quarters (75%) agreeing that this is an improvement on their home country.

Expat parents also report that Switzerland offers benefits for families too, believing their offspring are now safer (81%), enjoy a better quality of life (77%) and receive a better education (65%).

Asia: a hotspot for high earning expats

Asia emerges from this year’s survey as the best region for financial wellbeing, with nearly one fifth (19%) of expats earning over USD200,000 p.a. and 65% saying they have more disposable income since relocating.

China is home to the largest proportion of high-earning expats in the world – nearly two-fifths (38%) earn over USD200,000 p.a and over three quarters (76%) have more disposable income than they did at home.  

Elsewhere in Asia, around a quarter of expats in India (24%) and Hong Kong (23%) earn over the USD200,000 p.a. mark, with 56% and 63% respectively saying they have greater disposable income than before.

The Middle East attracts career-minded expats

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of expats in the Middle East report that they are satisfied with their host country’s current economic outlook  - the highest of all regions in this year’s survey.

Countries in the Middle East continue to attract career-minded expats seeking to boost their earning potential, with nearly six in ten (56%) expats who move to the Middle East doing so for better job prospects and over a third (35%) moving to increase their income levels.

But it’s not all hard work – the survey reveals that the majority of expats in Bahrain enjoy a better work / life balance (62%) and more enjoyable commute into work (68%), in comparison to their home countries. 

New Zealand: the winner for expat experience and family life

Expats this year voted New Zealand as the best destination for expat life experience and raising a family abroad. The country ranks as the easiest place for expats to set up a new life, making it a popular option for expats young and old to enjoy a high quality lifestyle.

New Zealand is the destination where expats are most likely to move in order to improve their standard of living (54%), as well as benefiting from the pleasant climate and picturesque scenery (89%), friendly local people (75%) and a good work / life balance (71%).  

Expat parents living in New Zealand also commented on the improved health and wellbeing (78%) and safety of their children (87%), as well as saying they are bringing up more confident and well-rounded individuals (58%) since moving.

Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat, comments:

“There are a great many decisions involved in making the move abroad, ranging from consideration of finances and managing money, right through to integrating into the local community and arranging childcare.  

“While Asia continues to excel as a region for those looking for higher salaries, the Middle East draws career minded expats and New Zealand offers a great opportunity for those looking for quality of life and a good place to raise a family.

“This year’s Expat Explorer league table shows that there are many countries that offer a good balance, providing expats with a rewarding and exciting experience. Expats can view the full results by visiting the Expat Explorer interactive tool, where they can discover more about where they live now as well as find inspiration for the future.” 


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