Life abroad increases expats’ income by 25 percent

Switzerland has been rated by expats as the best country in the world to live and work, knocking reigning champion Singapore off the top spot. In the 2020 HSBC Expat Explorer survey, Switzerland also saw off competition from New Zealand, Germany and Spain.

In addition to warmer climates and easy-going lifestyles, many Brits choose to emigrate as salaries can often be significantly higher than what is offered in the UK, creating a better quality of life. The ability to earn a higher income and further career progressions make moving abroad a popular choice for young professionals and those with young families.

Within HSBC’s expat explorer survey, a variety of factors are observed, which come under the categories of living, aspiring and mind-set. Factors within these categories include mental wellbeing, making friends, income, career progression and cultural values.

Within the survey, Switzerland came out highly for the majority of factors within each category, particularly in terms of work and education, making it a strong choice for families.

Why was Switzerland voted as the best country to live in?

Switzerland is known for its strong business culture, so it’s no surprise that the country scored highly amongst expats for income, economic stability and personal development. Whilst income in Switzerland tends to be higher than other countries, ex-pat salaries are particularly good as they are often employed due to lack of local skills shortage.

The average expat salary in Switzerland CHF 202,516 but employees are expected to work hard and deliver results. Additionally, Switzerland also scores highly for its work/life balance, suggesting that expats are able to enjoy life outside of work, despite such a strong work ethic.

Whilst Switzerland does offer higher salaries, it also has a high cost of living. That being said, the country has relatively low taxes, meaning that expats are often better off financially than living in their home country.

The few areas in which Switzerland did not rank as highly amongst expats were feelings of fulfilment, settling in and making friends, suggesting that the social aspect of moving to Switzerland could be a challenge for expats.

Why does Singapore consistently rank highly?

When looking to emigrate, Singapore is an excellent option as it consistently ranks highly in the ex-pat explorer survey for a variety of reasons. There is strong confidence in the political stability and local economy, great quality of life (many say it is better than in their country of origin) and a positive experience for families.

Singapore is also known for its lavish lifestyle, with luxury homes and high ex-pat salaries, with the country welcoming citizens from all over the world. The expat explorer survey found that life abroad typically increases expats’ income by 25 per cent no matter where they live, with the average ex-pat earning just under USD 100,000 a year.

Far from compromising their wellbeing, expats seem to find the right balance. Four in ten (41 per cent) expats adopt a more positive outlook on life after moving abroad, with 44 per cent becoming more physically active.

There are a handful of areas where life in Singapore didn’t rank so highly, however. Expats in Singapore are less likely to see an improvement in their work/life balance than those in other destinations (47 per cent compared to 53 per cent globally). More than four in five expat parents (84 per cent) find that the cost of raising children in Singapore is more expensive than previously.

New Zealand in third place

Up two places in 2020, New Zealand comes in at number three, scoring particularly highly for mental wellbeing, personal development and work/life balance. New Zealanders are known for their active lifestyle and with such beautiful surroundings, with residents taking up activities such as mountain climbing and skydiving, it’s no surprise that expats experience a better quality of life.

New Zealanders are also known for their friendly and welcoming nature, so expats are sure to receive a warm welcome upon their arrival. As a result, the country also ranks highly for making friends and a good place for families, making it an excellent option for those moving abroad.

Unlike Switzerland, expat salaries are lower than what many expect but will likely be higher if you can secure a job with a specialist skill set or one that is listed on Immigration New Zealand’s Essential Skills in Demand List.

Additionally, New Zealand has a much lower cost of living than the likes of London, so UK expats could find themselves better off financially in the long run.

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