27 September 2017

Starting a new life abroad is an adventure that is often challenging at first. Leaving behind loved ones and getting to grips with an unfamiliar culture can be daunting; learning a new language takes time.

Those who persevere, however, often find the move worthwhile. Not only is it financially rewarding, but many expats also experience improved wellbeing and greater happiness overall.

More than half of the expats polled say they have a better quality of life and work-life balance since making the move

This is the picture that emerges from HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer survey, which polled more than 27,000 expats in 159 countries and territories about life in their new home.

Many people move abroad to improve their career and financial prospects. A spell overseas can be an effective way to gain expertise in a new sector, hone specialist skills or take a step up the career ladder. And it often pays – respondents to our survey have an average income of just under USD100,000, earning around 25 per cent more than they did at home.

Most have more disposable income and are saving more, too. This is particularly true in Switzerland, which was rated the best destination for economics. Expats here saw a 54 per cent increase in their earnings. Singapore, rated the best overall destination for the third year in a row, is also seen as offering better job and earning prospects.

The benefits of living abroad are about much more than money, however. More than half of the expats polled say they have a better quality of life and work-life balance since making the move. In Spain, for example, ranked second only to New Zealand when it comes to offering the best expat experience, people typically enjoy better physical health and a more active social life than at home.

But international life doesn’t just bring individual fulfilment; the effect on an expat’s family can be hugely positive. This year the Netherlands was ranked the best choice overall for bringing up children. Parents around the world say their children are reaping the rewards of expat life, with benefits including greater self-confidence and self-reliance, and being more open to new experiences and cultures. In addition, around half of expat children have the advantage of being fluent in another language.

There are, of course, risks as well as opportunities when you move to a different country. Careful planning can help you make a smooth transition when it comes to managing your finances and negotiating the property market. Research into schooling and health services in your chosen destination can also pay dividends, helping you avoid unwanted surprises.

But with the right groundwork in place, expat life can bring significant benefits – financially, professionally and personally.

Read the related media release: Singapore the top expat destination for third year in a row .