Results of the 2009 HSBC Experience Survey

Results of the 2009 HSBC Experience Survey

The results of the second annual expatriate experience survey by HSBC are now available and they reveal interesting insights into the places that are considered to offer the best standards of living throughout the world.

The HSBC survey, which is the largest survey of expatriates currently available, involved over 3100 expats in 50 countries. Participants were asked to vote on 25 different criteria pertaining to everyday life such as food, social life, accommodation, healthcare, working hours, family life, ease of organizing finances, ease of finding accommodation and ability to make friends in their adopted country.

Topping the Polls

Canada, Australia and Thailand emerged as the top destinations for expatriates. According to the 3146 people surveyed, Canada has the best quality of life and is one of the easiest countries for expatriates to integrate with the local community. Similarly, Australia also scored high marks for weather, lifestyle and the ability to integrate with locals. Thailand was rated as the country where it was easiest to make friends and was also named the best destination to find love, with almost half of Thailand’s expatriates claiming that they have found lifelong partners during their time in the land of smiles.

The top three destinations for living on a long-term basis were named as South Africa, Thailand and Canada, with a large percentage of those surveyed in these countries having already lived there for five years or more.

Bottom of the Scale

Qatar, India, Russia and Britain featured at the bottom of the list of places to live as an expatriate. Qatar scored particularly low ratings in terms of the opportunity for expatriates to make friends and assimilate with the local community.

Russia, in particular, scored poorly for ability to enroll children in suitable educational facilities and for ease of establishing finances. The healthcare system and commuting experiences also achieved low scores, at 25th and 23rd respectively. Further poor performance was witnessed in the ratings for utility set up and ease of finding living accommodation.

One reasons for India’s low score was related to working hours with 60% of the expatriates in this area of the world claiming that they had observed a deterioration in their working hours and quality of family life.

It appears that the recession has really hit home in the United Kingdom with Britain being one of the lowest ranked locations in terms of lifestyle. It was also named as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live. Almost half of the expats living in this country (44%) are considering returning home, a significant number when compared with the average of 15% across all countries. Furthermore, 58% of the expatriates living in the United Kingdom claimed that they felt their quality of live was declining in this part of the world.

Other Findings

One of the most interesting findings of the HSBC survey concerns the fact that many expats enjoy a better standard of live in their host country than that they enjoy in their country of origin. Furthermore, it appears that a higher income does not necessarily translate to a higher quality of life with many of the high scoring countries being inhabited by expats whose salaries were on the lower end of the scale. Commenting on this, David Norton, head of customer propositions at HSBC Bank International, said

“What is clear is that the locations where salaries may not be as high, such as Canada and Australia, are where expats are really enjoying not only an increased quality of life but are also finding it easy to fit in to their new communities.”

Other key findings include the following-

  • More than 50% of those surveyed have lived abroad for over five years.
  • One in five expatriates have found love while living overseas.
  • Just under 50% of expatriates said that the quality of the environment and the standard of living they could offer their children while living overseas constituted their main reasons for remaining away from home.
  • The majority of expatriates find making friends in their host country quite easy, although the majority of them prefer to make friends with fellow expats. Asia emerged as the place to go for making friends.
  • South Africa was ranked as the best country for expatriates to pursue their hobbies and leisurely interests and was also named the best country to settle down in on a long-term basis.
  • Of those living abroad, expats under the age of 35 are the most likely to get homesick, with 79% of them returning home at least once a year.

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