Thailand is the best place to live as an expat followed by Canada and Bahrain but if it is entertainment you are looking for then the UK offers the best, according to a new study.
Expats tend to put career prospects before quality of life and emotive dilemmas top the list of their concerns, especially for women, the 2010 Expat Experience report from HSBC International also shows.
It reveals that the UK presents somewhat of a dilemma for expats who have relocated there, having several positive factors but also some negative aspects. Despite ranking 20th in the overall experience league table, the UK ranked top globally in terms of entertainment with 69% of expats agreeing that they enjoyed the local entertainment on offer, such as music and films.
Many expats find the UK an easy country in which to integrate, ranked ninth out of 25, a finding driven mainly by the fact that UK based expats find it easy to adapt to the local language and to communicate when they arrive, which is unsurprising considering 70% of expats moving to the UK already speak the local language.
However, despite these positives, the UK scored worst for all countries on expats’ quality of accommodation and the commute to work, compared with their country of origin. The good old British weather was also cited as a reason why expats struggled to feel at home in the UK.
The majority of expats, 57%, cited career opportunities and increased financial gain as key motivations to move to a new country. However, the choice to move to a country that offers great benefits financially often means moving to a destination with a lower quality of life.
While Saudi Arabia (85%), Qatar (83%) and Russia (76%) are the most popular destinations for expats motivated by financial gain and increased career progression, these countries typically score very low on quality of life rankings with Saudi Arabia 20th, Qatar 19th and Russia 24th out of 25.
In contrast, expats moving to countries that score well on the quality of life league table such as South Africa (third), Spain (sixth) and France (seventh), are much less appealing to those looking for increased career progression and financial gain. Less than one in five (18%) expats moving to Spain did so to improve their earning potential, alongside 26% in France and 40% in South Africa.
However, there are a few exceptions. Expats in Bahrain and Bermuda both scored particularly well for quality of life, scoring 2nd and 5th respectively on the quality of life league table, while also scoring within the top quartile of the 2010 Expat Economics league table, third and fourth respectively.
Emotive concerns such as re-establishing a social life (41%), feeling lonely and missing friends and family (34%) were the top worries amongst expats ahead of relocation. Nearly half of female expats surveyed (48%) admitted concerns about re-establishing their social life in their new country ahead of relocation, compared to only 37% of men. Meanwhile 44% of female expats shared concerns about missing their friends and family, compared to less than one third (29%) of men.
Many female expats undertake a move as a result of their partner being posted abroad through their employment. As a result, they often have to assume full responsibility to set up their family and their partner in their new home and are often the one making the majority of the arrangements prior to move and once they’ve arrived. This extra strain can explain the fact that women may well miss their friends and family more once they move and highlight their desire to re-establish a new social life fairly quickly, it points out.