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Top Ten Expat Countries Around the World in 2013

Top Ten Expat Countries Around the World to Move to in 2013

HSBC and Natwest’s surveys of their expatriate clients reveal different answers for where are the top ten countries to move to for 2013?

Surveys from HSBC awards Singapore and Thailand whilst Natwest gives Canada and Australia the top spots.

The USA didn’t make the top ten in either survey.

Singapore tops list

Singapore by Night

The HSBC survey asked more than 5,000 expats in over 100 countries a range of questions to try to figure out which are the best countries for expats to retire in and work out the emerging retirement trends. They conclude that expats are now moving from the Middle East to Asia with Latin America an emerging trend. Natwest asked 1,800 expats and their study concluded their was a rise of expats moving to UAE (Dubai) with a decline in expats moving to Europe.

The surveys say more about the clientele of each bank, but we can still draw some general conclusions from the study and these surveys could be useful for expats considering living abroad.

What Did HSBC’s Survey Consider?

As far as economic reasons, HSBC looked at levels of income, disposable income, higher quality accommodation, domestic help, swimming pool availability, number of properties, cars, boats and luxury holidays were factored in. Better healthcare was also considered.

HSBC also considered expat experiences such as organising school for the kids, ease of learning the local language, adapting to the weather, making friends, the quality of life, feeling welcome at work, organising finances, as well as adapting to the local food and access to sports.

Singapore and Thailand took the top spots in the HSBC survey whilst Hong Kong also ranked highly. Perhaps surprisingly, Mexico comes in a respectable 6th. I am guessing this is boosted by American expats living there.

In the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda feature, whilst Switzerland continues to take the top spot for Europe, just pipping out Spain. Bahrain is the top destination in the Middle East whilst South Africa takes the top African spot.

Top Ten Expat Countries in the World 2013

  1. Singapore
  2. Thailand
  3. Cayman Islands
  4. Bermuda
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Mexico
  7. Switzerland
  8. Malaysia
  9. South Africa
  10. Bahrain
  11. China
  12. Australia
  13. Spain
  14. Vietnam
  15. Germany
  16. Qatar
  17. Belgium
  18. India
  19. Japan
  20. United Arab Emirates
  21. Canada
  22. United States
  23. Saudi Arabia
  24. New Zealand
  25. France
  26. Netherlands
  27. United Kingdom
  28. Oman
  29. Italy
  30. Kuwait

Source:HSBC Expat Explorer

Top Expat Retirement Trends in 2013

Expat wealth is starting to move from the Middle East to Asia
This year, 5 Asian countries feature in the Expat Economics league table top ten: Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. Singapore leads the way, with the country holding the largest proportion of wealthy expats of any country. 43% of expats in Singapore interviewed in the study earn more than $250k per year, compared to a global average of only 7%.
1 in 10 of those surveyed said that either Australia or Hong Kong would be their next destination to live
Expats are tending to move to China for monetary reasons
Half of expats surveyed heading to China do so expecting to earn more money upon arrival and few are disappointed. However, only 44% believe there is a high quality of life and smog in Beijing can take five years off your life.
The Middle East keeps drawing financially minded expats, but it doesn’t attract lifers
More than 1/3rd of expats living in the Middle East are looking for a post elsewhere. That is three times higher than the average in other countries. Divorce rates amongst expats are also high in Dubai. Dubai Courts data show that between 2009 and 2011, the number of divorce cases increased by 40% in Dubai for expat couples.
Expats are now looking to hold an equal mix of cash, properties and equities
Expats earning $200k – $250k per year have moved over time from holding a higher proportion of cash investments to a relatively even mix of cash, real estate and equities, producing a balanced portfolio of investments. This is probably due to low bank interest rates.
In Singapore there was a 9% drop in cash investments (37% held cash investments upon relocation compared to 28% now), but a 5% rise in equities (14% up to 19% now). You can see why – with bank interest rates at around 0.5% and inflation at 2.8%, money sitting in a bank is losing money.

Natwest Bank’s Top Ten Expat Countries for 2013

According to the 6th Annual NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Report, 80% of British expats overall say they are enjoying a better quality of life abroad.

However, 63% of respondents in Europe are currently considering returning to the UK, due to falling property prices, austerity, and job insecurity.

Ranking 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

Australia 1 2 3 1 3 n/a
Canada 2 1 1 2 2 1
UAE 3 6 9 10 6 10
South Africa 4 4 5 8 8 n/a
New Zealand 5 3 2 3 1 2
USA 6 5 8 5 9 n/a
Singapore 7 10 10 9 11 9
France 8 7 4 4 4 n/a
Spain 9 8 7 7 7 7
Portugal 10 9 6 6 5 3
China 11 12 12 11 10 n/a
Hong Kong 12 11 11 12 12 n/a

Source: Centre for Future Studies.

Australia has reclaimed its place and knocked Canada off its perch for 2013. Natwest put Canada on top in 2011.

According to a survey of 1,430 expats earning between 50k and 100k GBP, the country was seen as having the best quality of life, being a peaceful place with a sound banking system. Expats also gave high marks to Canada’s natural beauty, its healthcare system and its education standards.

As well as universal healthcare system, the country is also known for its low crime rate, and for having a good worldwide reputation with other countries. It has one of the highest average life expectancy rates of 80.7 years, and a 97 per cent literacy rate.

There are currently more than 600,000 British expats living in Canada.

Canada is the world’s second-largest country which was colonised by the British and French in the 15th century, meaning that today it is officially bilingual with almost a quarter of citizens speaking French. Canada is home to Olympic standard ski resorts such as Whistler and Calgary. You can also see the northern lights and go whale watching.

Most Popular Retirement Destinations for Expats in 2013

India (11%), UK (11%), Australia (8%), the USA (8%) and Canada (7%) topped the list as voted for by expats.
This reveals more about the make-up of the expats in the survey as I wouldn’t imagine many non-Indians retiring to India on a permanent basis. Whilst on the other hand, there are a number of non-Brits wishing to retire in the UK.

The biggest drivers behind choosing an ideal retirement location for expats is quality of life (62%), having family in the country (57%) and the weather (50%). Retiring in a tax efficient location, while not a key factor behind destination choices, is more important to higher earners (19%) than the general expat population (14%).

The Most Popular Places in the World to Live for British Expats in 2013

According to Brits Abroad, more than 1 in 10 Brits now live abroad. The number is estimated at nearly 6 million people. That is a staggering percentage of a population and marks the British as the world’s travellers. Considering the Empire that Britain once had, it is perhaps unsurprising.

149,000 people left British shores in 2011 according to the ONS International Passenger Survey (2012) and all were intent on staying away for at least a year. The majority (50,000 Brits) already had work agreed upon and 30,000 were looking for jobs abroad.

British expatriates are part of a global population of more than 200 million people who now live and work in countries in which they were not born. The evidence is that highly skilled, highly motivated expats see themselves as part of the worldwide workforce, and are increasingly adventurous about where they go. As recently as 2006, 2/3rds of all leavers went to just five countries. Today, such conservatism has gone. Some 41 countries each have a British expat population of at least 10,000 with 112 countries having at least 1,000.

We have already mentioned Asian and Middle Eastern growth, but Latin America is becoming an increasingly popular destination for the European expat. In the past two years, the number of Spanish expats in Brazil has doubled, and more Britons are following suit, with the UK being the fourth largest investor there.

Number of British Expats Living Abroad in 2013

Despite this survey being 5 years old, these are still the top countries for Brits to retire to by population.

  1. Australia 1,062,000 (251,000)
  2. USA 829,000 (140,000)
  3. Spain 808,000 (104,000)
  4. Canada 608,000 (157,000)
  5. Ireland 289,000 (126,000)
  6. France 253,000 (57,000)
  7. New Zealand 248,000 (54,000)
  8. South Africa 219,000 (38,000)
  9. Germany 97,000 (39,000)
  10. UAE 65,000 (680)

Sources: DWP, British Diaspora, IPPR.

These figures have been released from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and British Diaspora. The British diaspora consists of British people and their descendants who emigrated from the present-day United Kingdom.

World’s Top Ten Friendliest Countries for Expats to Live in for 2013

Forbes took HSBC’s list and then narrowed it down by looking at

  • the easiest country to befriend the locals
  • the ease of learning the local language
  • the ease of integrating into the community
  • the ease of fitting into the local culture

The top ten friendliest countries for expats in the world

cayman islands

Cayman Islands

  1. Cayman Islands
  2. Australia
  3. UK
  4. Canada
  5. New Zealand
  6. Spain
  7. USA
  8. Bermuda
  9. South Africa
  10. Malaysia

Mexico, Germany, Bahrain, China and Singapore also get honourable mentions.

You can see why the beautiful Cayman Islands came top. There’s no income or payroll tax, it is summer all year round, it has sandy beaches with blue seas, there’s hardly any crime and no pollution. Grand Cayman has all the amenities of a city with the community feel of a town. That’s why many people who go there for a short assignment end up staying long-term.

But for Britishexpatriates.com, we give the medal to Thailand. It’s unique blend of friendliness, value for money and incredible sightseeing put it in first place.

About richardbkk

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British expat who has lived in Thailand for the last 14 years.
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