Recent research produced by the insurance group Standard Life has found that the majority western expats based in the UAE tend to spend part of their income on ‘luxurious lifestyle choices’ in comparison to the relatively sensible spending habits of expatriates based in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Whilst the survey had a relatively small sample size (400 western expats) and only surveyed those living in the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore the differences in attitudes are quite apparent. 97% of expatriates in UAE said they spend part of their income ‘luxurious lifestyle choices’ in comparison to 49% in Singapore and 53% in Hong Kong.
There were also major differences in how expats in these countries were saving their income and preparing themselves for retirement and their attitudes to managing their income.
Only 31% of expats in the UAE use a financial advisor in comparison with nearly 50% in Hong Kong and Singapore. Whilst expatriates in all countries are making savings and investments each month how they are doing this varies massively. Expats based in the UAE tend to shun equities (9%) and gold (15%) in preference for mutual funds (70%) and retirement plans (47%).
Chris Divito, CEO of Standard Life DIFC Branch, said: “Saving and spending behaviour can be varied with locations and demographics, but it is clear that most become expatriates due to financial factors. They move to high earning, tax friendly cities with the intention to save and secure their financial future.”
Only recently has the UAE introduced a credit bureau meaning that residents have been able to rack up debts with different banks at the same time without difficulty. A recent survey by YouGov found that financial concerns and debt were among the biggest stress factors in the UAE.