How countries compare


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Whether you're a student, looking for a better quality of life or focused on career development, there's a city for every expat ambition.

Career upgrade

Two fifths (40%) of our survey respondents in London moved to improve their job prospects, while 34% in New York say they were sent there by an employer. What's more, half now find work more fulfilling than they did at home (54% in London, 52% in New York). Our survey results show that London stands out for workplace advantages: 60% say the work culture is better and 69% say they have picked up skills more easily than at home (compared to the global averages of 45% and 47% respectively).

It's a challenging environment where there's no room for failure. Which is incredibly inspiring and thrilling.- French expat in London

In both cities, the majority (71%) believe their experience working abroad will improve future job prospects when they move to another country or back home.

Quality of life

According to our survey, many expats looking for a better quality of life choose Sydney (50%) or Toronto (45%). Nearly two in three (63%) expats living in Toronto say they feel safer than at home and 79% say that their children's health has improved. Meanwhile, 59% of expats in Sydney say they are more active and 77% believe they have integrated well with the local people and culture.


59% of expats in Sydney say they are more active

Financial benefits

Nearly two thirds (65%) of expats in Dubai and Hong Kong (68%) say the move has increased their disposable income and most receive health benefits as well – 77% in Dubai and 70% in Hong Kong. As well as a generous benefits package, 77% in Dubai also get an airfare allowance for visits back home.

Almost half (44%) in Zurich earn over $200k; this is perhaps why 72% of expats in Zurich say their quality of life has improved. However, it's not just the potential for high earnings: 82% say air and water quality is better than at home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zurich topped the Friends of the Earth air pollution rankings in 2015.

Further education

A quarter of respondents in Paris moved there to study and 77% say they feel “immersed in the culture” and 92% are learning to speak French. However, moving to the French capital can be expensive: 25% of expats in Paris say their income has fallen from what it was in their home country.


77% of expats in Paris say they feel "immersed in the culture"

Top city destination

For the second year in a row, the city-state of Singapore is ranked the best place to live and work abroad as an expat, placing 1st in the 2016 Expat Explorer league table. Since moving abroad, 66% of expats say they have a better quality of life than in their home country.

The 2016 Expat Explorer survey is a global survey completed by 26,871 expats across the world. The research was conducted online by YouGov in March and April 2016. League tables are calculated using responses to 27 of the questions asked in the research. A minimum sample of 100 expat respondents including at least 30 expat parents is required for a country to be included in the league tables.

About HSBC Expat

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Expat Explorer collects key findings from countries around the world.

Use the dropdown menus above to add or remove criteria and see which findings from 2016 are most relevant to you, or use our league table to see how countries compare.

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