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London and New York the most appealing cities for expat workers

by Ray Clancy on October 13, 2014

London, New York and Paris are regarded as the most appealing cities to work abroad in, while overall, the United States is the country with the highest appeal, new research shows.

Some 16% voted for London, 12.2% for New York and 8.9% for Paris, according to the survey carried out by the Boston Consulting Group.

london

16% of those surveyed said London was the most appealing city to work in as an expat

Next was Sydney with 5.2% of the vote, followed by Madrid with 5%, Berlin at 4.6%, Barcelona at 4.4%, Toronto at 4.2%, Singapore with 3.9% and Rome rounding out the top 10 with 3.5%.

Perhaps surprisingly, Geneva, Switzerland was not that popular, coming last in the 30 city table with just 1.5%. Also in the bottom five were Lisbon, also with 1.5%, Copenhagen with 1.6% and Melbourne and Santiago, both with 1.7%.

The firm said it should not be a surprise that London and New York are tops, as both are global centres of business and culture. They also have the biggest foreign-born populations of any cities in the world, with about three million foreign born people each.

This immediately makes those places seem more welcoming, or at least less intimidating, to people from other places.

The survey report points out that given that one of the top reasons for moving abroad is acquiring work experience, it isn’t surprising that certain cities come up again and again. In terms of reputation, it’s hard to beat Zurich if you’re a banker, Los Angeles if you’re an aspiring film actor, and Singapore if you’re an international customs broker. A few years in one of these cities can be career making.

When it comes to the most desirable countries, the United States topped the poll, with 42% saying it is the number one place they would consider moving to. This is followed by the UK and Canada at 37% and 35%, respectively.

The report explains that the UK, Canada, and the US are all in the top 10 in terms of nominal GDP, per capita GDP, or both. They all also benefit from being largely English-speaking at a time when English is the most frequently taught second language.

Among workers in large economies, the so-called G20, the US is often the most popular destination. Mexicans, whose focus on financial factors is at the high end of all the nationalities in the survey, put the U.S. first as a possible work destination. So do people from France and from India. The US is the second most popular work destination for people from China after the UK.

French, Indian, and Chinese respondents are also positively disposed toward work opportunities in the UK, with 53 % of people from France, 43% of people from India, and 42% of people from China saying they would consider work opportunities there. The UK also appeals to workers in Africa.

As for Canada, where French retains its status as an official language alongside English, some 59% of French respondents to the survey say they would consider working there. Other people for whom Canada holds appeal are Mexicans, South Koreans, Saudi Arabians, and Britons.

Among non-English-speaking countries, Germany was named by 33% of respondents, Switzerland by 29% and France, also 29%. Germany is particularly attractive to Italians, Russians, and Turks, who have long seen Germany as a promising place to work, and it is also starting to appeal to others, such as Mexicans.

The Asia-Pacific region doesn’t generate the same interest as a possible work destination as the US or Europe, which the firm says is largely because of the perceived difficulty of learning Asian languages.

This perception is particularly strong in Europe and the Americas, where most of the survey participants are based. China, for instance, isn’t the top work destination for people in any of the G20 countries, and Japan ranks first only among Indonesians.  However, some fast-growing Asian countries are starting to reclaim workers they have lost.

The report concludes that the sheer uniqueness of certain cities gives them an almost mystical appeal, for example, Paris.

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