Canada tops expat lifestyle ranking

27th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

For expats, Canada is the most desirable place to live in followed by Australia and Thailand reveals a global survey. The UK ranks at the bottom end of the scale.

The global survey by HSBC Expat showed that expats enjoy an overall better quality of life once they move away from their country of origin. Expats in Canada noted particularly that it was among the easiest places in the world to integrate with the local population while those in Australia and Thailand found the quality of life in their adopted country significantly better to that experienced in their home countries.
At the other end of the scale, the UK was one of the lowest ranking countries for quality of life.

HSCB’s Expat Experience survey, part of the bank’s Expat Explorer series which has surveyed over 3,100 expats from more than 50 countries, looked at expats’ lifestyle experiences while they live and work abroad. Factors considered included ease of organising finances ease of finding accommodation and organising finances, ability to make friends and integrate with the local community.

The report revealed that countries in emerging markets tended to score poorly, with Russia and India propping up the bottom of the league table which gave insights into expats’ priorities, particularly when financial gain is taken out of the equation.

David Norton of HSBC Expat said, “We have seen that there is a distinct trade-off between income and overall quality of life, as many of the top performers in our first report, which examined the best places to make and save money, have scored towards the bottom of this report’s league table.”

Norton pointed out that in 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.”

Overall, expats reported that the biggest increases in quality of life were in the categories of accommodation and the commute into work—nearly half of expats noted improvements in these areas. The biggest reductions in quality were in the standard of available entertainment and social life, where around a third of expats noticed a decline in each area.

The report showed that more expats are choosing to stay abroad: over half of expats (58%) questioned in 2009 have lived abroad for more than five years, compared with 45% of expats living abroad for the same time in 2008. The top three countries for settling down are South Africa, Thailand and Canada.

Better quality of life in established markets

Countries located in established markets generally outperformed those in the emerging regions for quality of life and ease of integrating into the local community. Expats in Canada (68%), the US (61%) and Australia (57%) all experienced improved quality of accommodation in their new homeland as compared with their country of origin.

Not surprisingly, sun, sea and sand also seem to be the ingredients for a happier and healthier life, with almost half of expats living in Australia reporting a marked improvement in their family life and personal health.

Russia, which was top for expat finances in the first Expat Explorer report, ranked 24 out of 26 countries for quality of life, suggesting that in this country financial gain is a strong motivator for expats, rather than overall quality of lifestyle.

UK continues to perform poorly, but the entertainment’s great!

As it did in 2008, the survey revealed that the UK was one of the worst locations when it comes to expat lifestyle.  Two-fifths (41%) of expats in the UK find it difficult to find somewhere to live, compared to a 28% average across all regions surveyed—quality of accommodation had not risen since last year and around a third of expats living in the UK claimed that their health has deteriorated since moving there. More than half of UK-based expats claim that their commute to work has become worse, although the same percentage of expats in the UK remark that the quality of entertainment had increased.

Expat social life

Although Canada scored the highest for ease of integration in the 2008 survey and again in the current survey across all categories including ease of integration making local friends and joining community groups, Asia emerged overall as the place to go to make friends.  
Thailand ranked as the easiest country to forge new bonds with almost half of expats in the country claiming that they had found love—overall one in five expats said that they found love overseas. However, single expats in India or Qatar would be better off buying a teddy bear – just four percent of expats have found love while living in these countries.

While making friends is easy for most expats, the survey showed that expats tend to make friends within the expat rather than the local community.

Expat challenges

The report shows that when organising a new life overseas the traditional headache inducing factors such as finances, utilities and healthcare are proving less of a concern. Learning the local language remains the largest expat challenge of all, with less than one in three (28%) expats overall making the effort to learn one of the local languages.

Norton adds, “What is important to note is that the report has found that, in general, expats are still earning higher salaries than at home and are also enjoying better quality of life.”

 Click here for more information on the Expat Explorer surveys.


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