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World's 10 best nations for expats

Last updated on: November 27, 2009 19:24 IST

Image: Foreigners in India.
Rediff Business Desk

Canada is the world's best country for expats while United Kingdown is among the worst. India is ranked at the 25th position. Over half of all expats moving to India (60 per cent) noted a worsening of their working hours created deterioration in the quality of their family life.

However, India scores high (90 per cent) in terms of expats making local friends easily.

"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," says a HSBC Bank International survey.

High salary doesn't always mean a high quality of life. Half of expats claim that the length of their employment contract (51 per cent) or career prospects (44 per cent) are the main reasons for staying in their country of residence.

For most expats, the biggest advantages of taking an expatriate posting are the financial benefits, such as tax breaks and the ability to save. Expats enjoy a better life in Germany, France and Thailand.

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: Russia has highest paid expats.

Asia is home to among the highest paid expats in the world; while their poorer counterparts can be found in Australia and Western Europe.

The highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000 are in Russia (30 per cent), followed by Hong Kong (27 per cent), Japan (26 per cent), Switzerland (25 per cent) and India (25 per cent) compared with a global average of 16per cent.

The lowest-paid expats live in Australia and Belgium, with the majority (63 per cent and 61per cent versus 35per cent overall) of expats earning under $100,000.

As well as commanding high salaries, expats in Asia further recession-proof themselves by scaling back on the luxuries. Expats in Japan (ranking first, 54per cent), Thailand (second, 51per cent) and Hong Kong (third, 49 per cent) scale down their spending on luxury items, such as holidays and leisure activities.

Here's a look at the world's 10 best nations for expats...

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: The Pengrowth Saddledome stands as one of the icons of the Calgary, Alberta skyline.
Photographs: Todd Korol/Reuters

1. Canada

Canada has a high proportion of retired expats and a relatively older expat community, with 61per cent aged 45 and over. In addition, over two thirds own a property there, over double the global average (31per cent), and almost half own more than one car, far above the global average (29 per cent).

About 53 per cent of expats in Canada have noticed an improvement in the quality of their family life there, compared with under a third globally who can say the same.

Canada also ranks the best of all the countries surveyed on accommodation for expats, with over two-thirds (68 per cent) saying that it was easy to find a place to live.

Expats in Canada also point out that the quality of their accommodation is better there than in their home country, the best figure of all the countries surveyed. Getting utilities arranged in their new home was also no problem for most expats in Canada, with over three-quarters (76 per cent) finding it easy, compared with an average worldwide of under half (47 per cent).

Quality of life: 4/26
Ease of integration: 2/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: A sculpture of a samurai warrior at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Photographs: Daniel Munoz/Reuters

2. Australia

Australia is among the top five countries in terms of quality of accommodation, entertainment and family life. About 83 per cent mention that the weather is one of the best reasons for living in Australia. Expats named the general environment and quality of life for their children for preferring to live in Australia.

About 91 per cent of respondents said their lifestyle was the reason for staying in Australia. Almost half (48 per cent) of expats living in Australia reported that the quality of their family life has increased. Australia is also classed one of the best places for ease of integration for expats, second only to Canada.

It is considered the easiest place for expats to organise their finances, but only ranks mid-table in terms of ease of finding somewhere to live (eleventh) and making friends (tenth). However, in terms of making local friends, Australia scores quite highly, placing sixth. Living in Australia also allows expats to make purchases that they may not be able to do elsewhere.

Over half of Australia-based expats claimed to own a property compared with one-third of expats globally. However, less than one-tenth of expats in Australia employed household staff, a much lower percentage compared with the global average of 48 per cent.

Quality of life: 8/26
Ease of integration: 3/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: Thailand, expats' favourite destination.

3. Thailand

Thailand is was one of the best performing locations for expats. Expats in Thailand are more satisfied with their quality of life than the majority of their counterparts elsewhere. More than half reported that the quality of their social life has increased since they moved there and almost one third said that the quality of their working hours had improved.

The commute to work remains one of the biggest bug-bears for expats in Thailand, with over half saying that the quality of their journey had decreased, and over a third admitting that the quality of transportation available, had decreased.

Expats also revealed that personal wealth and salary was, on average, much lower in Thailand than anywhere else around the world, but a significantly improved lifestyle was what kept them from leaving. Entertainment, food quality, accommodation, social life and health and well-being all rated significantly higher than the worldwide averages.

Thailand also rated very favourably in terms of luxuries, when compared with other parts of the world. Over 60 per cent of Thailand-based expats said that they had household staff, compared with 48 per cent in other parts of the world.

One in four expats in Thailand also say that they have their own swimming pool and almost half (49 per cent) own their own home compared with just 31 per cent worldwide.

Thailand scored poorly when it came to overcoming the language barrier over a third of expats in Thailand rated the language barrier as the top challenge while living in the country. Despite this, however, over a half of expats have chosen to learn more of the native tongue and, not letting language get in the way, a staggering 76 per cent of expats have managed.

Quality of life: 3/26
Ease of integration: 4/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: A tourist takes a photo of Singapore's financial district skyline.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

Singapore ranked highly in terms of quality of life (fifth overall) and was among the top six countries in terms of the quality of utilities, entertainment and healthcare.

Over half of respondents (51 per cent) also said that the quality of their accommodation had increased from their country of origin.

Its infrastructure is well regarded, with two-thirds (64 per cent) of expats living in Singapore reporting an increase in the ease of their commute to work, compared with 44 per cent globally; while roughly three-quarters said travelling was better, claiming a rise in general transport quality.

In terms of how easy it is to settle in, Singapore ranked eighth. Expats in Singapore found it very easy to organise their healthcare and set up utilities for their home. Of all 26 countries, Singapore ranked sixth in terms of ease of organising one's finances.

However, expats in Singapore did not prioritise socialising with local people and it came 24th out of 26th for expats choosing to join a community group and 18th in terms of the ease of making local friends

Quality of life: 5/26
Ease of integration: 8/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: view of the Pearl Roundabout in Manama.
Photographs: Avantika Srivastava Ganjoo/ Reuters

5. Bahrain

Bahrain ranks 2nd among emerging markets. The countries who produce the 'expat-lifers' (expats having lived abroad for more than five years) include those originally from Thailand (82 per cent of expats living abroad more than five years), Bahrain (81 per cent).

Bahrain and Netherlands offered its expat residents the greatest improvement in working hours, followed by Germany.

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: South Africa helps expats pursue hobbies.

6. South Africa

Expats based in South Africa feel that they have the greatest improvement in pursuing their hobbies, followed by Canada.

The top three countries for settling down are South Africa, Thailand and Canada, where 55 per cent, 53 per cent and 52 per cent of expats respectively have lived there for more than five years.

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: France offers expats the highest quality healthcare.

7. France

France is in the top three countries where expats report the greatest increase in quality of life (with the other two countries being Germany (1st) and Thailand (3rd).

Almost half (44 per cent) of the expats in France said that the quality of their family life had improved, compared with a third (32 per cent) overall, while the country also seems good for one's health 44 per cent of people reported that their health had improved and 74 per cent that the quality of healthcare was better in France.

Local communities in France are said to be very welcoming, with over three-quarters (85 per cent) of expats living there reporting that they have made friends with local people. Of this group, 43 per cent of people were over 55. More than a third of expats living in France reported that they had joined a local community group.

France offers expats the highest quality healthcare, followed by neighbouring Belgium and Switzerland. However, over one-third of expats in France reported that they found organising their finances quite difficult.

Quality of life: 2/26
Ease of integration: 13/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: Expats in the US were also more likely to own more than one property.

8. United States

Expats living in the US reported that, in comparison to their home country, the quality of household products, accommodation and clothing had increased.

In comparison to other regions, expats in the US were also more likely to own more than one property and more than one car (53 per cent in the US compared with 29 per cent on average). Of the top 26 countries, the US was tenth in terms of the ease of integration.

It ranked fourth in terms of expats joining local community groups and was the seventh best country to make local friends. Nonetheless, expats also reported that setting up their healthcare was particularly difficult. Of all the countries, the US ranked 24th for this provision.

Organising one's finances was also seen as a challenge the United States ranked 20th out of 26 in this regard.

Quality of life: 10/26
Ease of integration: 10/26

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: Spain, 2nd best nation in Europe for expats.
9. Spain

Spain ranks as the second best country for expats in Europe. It ranks high on education and childcare. Spain is also among the most friendly places for expats to live.

World's 10 best nations for expats

Image: Hong Kong ranked third in terms of making friends.
10. Hong Kong

Hong Kong ranked third in terms of making friends and fourth when looking at the quality of social life and entertainment. It ranks seventh overall for ease of integration, with expats in Hong Kong making the greatest effort to fit in socially - particularly within the expat community.

Expats in Hong Kong also enjoy a number of other benefits. Like Singapore, expats in the country find the commute to work much easier and they have also noticed an improvement in transport generally.

Over one-third found organising their finances very easy. Similarly, setting up utilities posed no challenges to 45 per cent of Hong Kong expats (compared with 20 per cent overall). However, the country ranked second to last in terms of quality of accommodation and working hours which could also explain its lower rank in terms of the quality of family life (22nd).

Quality of life: 12/26
Ease of integration: 7/26