Global survey shows Europe is best place for career expats

by Ray Clancy on January 2, 2017

Europe is rated the best place in the world for expats looking to progress their career abroad and benefit from great working conditions, new research has found.

Switzerland is ranked top for the second year in a row with average expat earning of US$188,275 but Germany, Sweden, Norway, Austria and the UK are in the top 10 compiled from HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey.

switzerlandOverall Germany is in second place, up from third in 2015, Sweden in third place, down from second, the United Arab Emirates comes in fourth, up from sixth place in the survey from last year.

The survey report says that Switzerland combines the best earning prospects with a good work and life balance and an excellent work culture. The average annual expat income in Switzerland is almost twice the global average of US$97,419.

As a result of their favourable working conditions Norway and Austria are in the top 10 for the first time ranked fifth and seventh respectively. The UK also make the top for the first time having moved nine places from 18 to nine.

The other nations in the top 10 are Singapore in sixth place, down from fifth last year, Hong Kong has not moved year on year in eighth place and Bahrain has fallen three places from seventh in 2015 to tenth in 2016.

The survey found that 69% of expats in Switzerland see an improvement in their work and life balance and 61% say the work culture is better than in their home country.

The worldwide survey of expats reveals that although expat earnings and benefits in Europe are below the survey average except in Switzerland, the region offers an exceptional working environment that makes it highly desirable.

The majority of expats across the region, some 52%, believe the European work culture is an improvement compared to their home country especially in Sweden where 71% of expats said so.

The research found that expats in the UK are among the most likely in the world to pick up new skills compared to their home country with 64% doing so and 62% progressing their career forward.

Some 87% of expats in Norway and 71% in Austria found their work and life balance was better and 69% and 62% respectively said the work culture was better than their home country. Across all countries surveyed, expats in Norway are the most likely to see an improvement in their work and life balance.

While European destinations do well in the careers league table, there are top attributed in other countries. Expats looking for the best employment package might consider the Middle East where 91% of expats receive at least one benefit as part of their contract, compared with the global average of 67%.

For example, in the UAE some 56% of expats receive an accommodation allowance and 75% receive health benefits. In Bahrain, 65% of expats receive an annual allowance for trips home.

When it comes to career development, Hong Kong and Singapore come out on top. The majority of expats in both countries, 68% and 62% respectively, agreed it is a good place for expats to progress their career, compared with the global average of 43%. However, this may come at a cost, as 30% of expats in Singapore and 50% in Hong Kong see a decline in their work and life balance since moving.

More broadly, expats across Asia find their work more fulfilling. Some 54% of expats in Thailand and Indonesia and 53% in Singapore said they are more fulfilled at work since they made the move.

‘What’s clear in our survey, is that working abroad offers a wealth of opportunities to suit many different career needs and personal priorities,’ said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat.

‘Some expats are looking for an accelerated route to the top of the career ladder, some want to put themselves on a firmer financial footing, while others want to improve their work and life balance. There is an ideal destination to achieve one or more of these goals,’ he added.

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