Thursday 26th January 2012

High expat earners

Last year’s HSBC Expat Explorer survey gave us great insights into many key issues impacting expatriates throughout the world. As key economies continue to live in the shadow of recession, increasing numbers of expatriates throughout the world have been forced to try and seek their fortunes away from their home countries. But if they are looking to enjoy a comfortable quality of life and earn the money they have been dreaming of, where should they head?

Today we revisit HSBC’s survey and take a look at the top five countries in the world where expatriates earn the most money.

1) Saudi Arabia

It is expatriates living in Saudi Arabia that benefit from the strongest financial security, with 28% of expatriates in this region claiming that the top benefit of living there is financial wealth. As well as benefiting from some of the highest salaries in the world, Saudi expats are also positive about what the future has in store, with 68% of those surveyed by HSBC revealing that they consider the economy in the region to be strong and a further 50% believing that it will improve even more in 2012.

One of the biggest reasons why expats in the region are so happy with their level of disposable income concerns the low tax rates and attractive employment packages that are offered to lure overseas talent. Such packages often include accommodation, schooling and transportation, leaving expats with even more money to play around with. However, before you quit your job and move to Saudi Arabia in search of the high life, do bear in mind the fact that one additional explanation for the level of disposable income that expatriates living in Saudi Arabia enjoy, concerns the fact that there is less entertainment and leisure options available for them to spend their hard-earned cash on, meaning that the majority of expats living in this area of the world are forced to take luxurious holidays further afield from their host country.

2) Egypt

Despite the fact that three quarters of expats in Egypt are concerned that the economy in the area is weak and 47% are of the opinion that this is set to deteriorate in the forthcoming year, expats living in Egypt enjoy strong salary options, healthy disposable incomes and a high propensity to save money. However, again you may not wish to be in a huge rush to submit your resume to large numbers of Egyptian companies. Expats living in the area scored the country very poorly in the Expat Experience survey, despite their affiinity with the economic benefits on offer. In recent months, the quality of life available to expatriates living in Egypt has significantly deteriorated as a result of political unrest and fears pertaining to personal security. In addition to this, the HSBC survey revealed that Egypt faces one of the highest turnovers of expatriates in the world and it is therefore not somewhere you may wish to consider as a long-term option.

3) Singapore

Expats looking to earn high wages should set their sights on Singapore, with this country state ranking one of the highest in the HSBC Expat Explorer survey for earning potential. According to the bank: “half of those surveyed earn more than US$200,000 (S$257,650), placing Singapore second in the Expat Economics League table.” It is no surprise that high earnings brings high disposable income, and the survey revealed that 51% of expatriates living in Singapore claimed that they have more disposable income than they did in their home country. However, demanding a high salary to work in Singapore may be of utmost importance, with the survey concluding that expats in Singapore need to have larger incomes to maintain their standard of living, due to the high cost of living. According to the survey, Singapore has one of the highest costs of living in the world and expats here spend much higher amounts of money on accommodation and food than they do elsewhere in the world. However, despite the money on offer in Singapore, it isn’t the potential to become rich that is luring expats to the region. Many of those surveyed by HSBC revealed that their personal development (27%) and quality of life (17%) were important factors in their decision to relocate to the Asian capital.

4) Russia

Like Singapore, Russia also scored highly on HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey for both income levels and disposable income and many expatriates living in the country enjoy a very high standard of living. According to the survey, a massive 94% of expats living in Russia report a higher income since relocating, a figure that was much higher than the global average of 71%. However, despite the high earnings potential, expats in the region were skeptical about the future of the economy in Russia, with 40% of those questioned revealing that they consider the economy to be weak or deteriorating and 30% of them revealing that they will be monitoring their expenditure more over the forthcoming year.

5) Switzerland

The findings of the HSBC survey revealed that Switzerland, like Singapore, offers expats an opportunity to earn high amounts of money within a low-tax jurisdiction. However, like Singapore, expatriates living in Switzerland face high day-to-day living costs and a good standard of living here does come at a price. While living in Switzerland may offer expatriates a high standard of living, managing finances here can be difficult, and Switzerland ranked as the third largest country in the world for financial complexity, with 81% of those surveyed claiming that managing finances was difficult.

Do you live in any of these countries? How does your lifestyle and earnings potential compare to HSBC’s findings? Leave a comment and let us know.

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