Asia is fast becoming a top destination for professionals and executives who go abroad for their companies, their careers and their bank accounts, while Europe is largely a place for retirement in the sun, a recent survey showed.
An exception in Europe is Germany, which draws young people boosting their careers notably in technology industries, and Britain, which ranks highly for culture.
These are among the main findings of a vast annual survey of so-called “expats” conducted by HSBC bank. Finance companies managing personal wealth take a close interest in expatriates who have high earnings and savings, and need advice on investment and tax.
The survey’s results paint a global expat landscape in which the so-called “soft,” but critical resource of brainpower and special skills is being drawn increasingly to emerging economies.
The expat sun seems to be rising in the east and retiring in the west. Yet expats in general are feeling the chill of the cold winds of economic downturn, particularly in Spain.
Five Asian countries featured among the top countries for economic attractiveness and took four spots in the top 12 for the overall experience of being an expat.
“Asia is increasingly coming to the fore as a top destination for both financial opportunity and life experiences,” HSBC Expat head Dean Blackburn said.
Singapore is now a top destination and China is moving rapidly upwards as an attractive place to live and work.
China has leapt to seventh place this year from 19th last year, the survey said. Two-thirds of expats in China reported a “marked improvement” in their financial situations.
However, for raising families in the great outdoors, Canada and Australia scored strongly, while Hong Kong ranked highest in child safety, and London remained attractive for culture, particularly with a boost from the British royal wedding and Olympic Games.
France and Spain placed highly for easy living and retirement, as many valued the sunny weather of both countries.
The Middle East is high on the list for young people seeking high earnings, but families have difficulty in integrating in the region.
However, the Middle East “is continually improving as a place to live and work,” Blackburn said.
Germany attracts young people keen to develop their careers, with a strong accent on the technology sector, but it is not a popular place to retire.
Yet in terms of economic prospects, expatriates in Germany are “more positive than expats across the rest of Europe” and have “a very positive outlook.”
Expats in Britain were affected by economic uncertainty, but the country “ranks much higher for expat experience than we have seen in previous years,” the survey said.
“It seems the cultural events taking place in the country over the past year have helped to boost expats’ views of the country as top destination for entertainment and culture,” it added.
The survey came up with two lists of 30 countries ranked according to the overall expat experience and to the overall economic situation for expatriates. These threw up some strong contrasts.
For overall expat experience and lifestyle, the Cayman Islands came first, followed by Thailand, Spain, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Switzerland.
Last came Japan, Vietnam, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and India.
Singapore was first for economic considerations, followed by Bermuda, Thailand, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Mexico and China. Sharing second to last place were France, Kuwait and Britain, with Italy last of all.