Expats in China earn more and have more disposable income, survey shows

by Ray Clancy on November 16, 2012

China is becoming an all round favourite for expats, survey shows

Moving to China to live and work can lead to a higher standard of living as those doing so earn more and have more disposable income.

Almost half, 49%, of expats heading to China do so expecting to earn more money upon relocation, and few are disappointed, according to the HSBC 2012 Expat Explorer survey.

Some 64% of expats in China witnessed a marked improvement in the financial status of their household with 69% citing an increase in disposable income upon relocation. A third, 29%, reported that their household income has increased by 50% or more since relocation.

However, it isn’t only economic factors that bode well for expats in China. Some 44% believe the country offers a high quality of life for expats. China, it seems, is fast becoming an all round favourite for expats.

China’s continued strength on the world economic stage means it has leaped up the survey’s economics league table from 19th to seventh. As well as dominating the Expat Economics league tables, Asian countries lead the way for Expat Experience, with four Asian countries featuring in the top 12 of the Expat Explorer Experience league tables. Thailand is in second place followed by Singapore in fourth, Malaysia in fifth and Hong Kong in 12th.

Expats living in these countries are more likely than average to report having seen an increase in their quality of life since relocating. This is especially marked for those living in Thailand where 83% cited this change with 76% in Singapore and 72% in Malaysia.

Among the aspects of expat life that contribute to these high scores in the league tables are accommodation, transport and social life, for which Asian countries have scored well on in this year’s report.

Some 69% of expats in Malaysia, 60% in Thailand (60%) and 48% in Singapore report having a better standard of accommodation since relocating, compared to a global average of 39%. One notable exception is Hong Kong, where less than one fifth, 19%, of expats reported having a higher standard of accommodation than in their home country. This can be explained by the fact that Hong Kong is one of the world’s most expensive places to buy a home due to a supply shortage, low borrowing costs, and an influx of Chinese buyers as well as the fact that limited space affects the size of available accommodation.

The advanced infrastructure of Singapore and Hong Kong has been noted by expats who highlight the quality of commute in these countries in the 2012 report. While on average only 45% of expats now have a better commute since relocating, 72% of expats in Hong Kong and 57% of expats in Singapore have a better commute than in their home country.

While in Thailand it is 36% and Malaysia 44%, below the global average for this element of the survey, but still more positive in light of other Western countries. In the UK only 32% claimed to have a better commute upon relocation, as well as 35% in the USA. Italy scored one of the lowest in the survey as a whole, with only 30% claiming to have a better commute since relocation to the country.

Finally, an important factor for expats moving abroad is to secure a better quality of life and social scene, and Asian based expats rate their respective countries well on both of these factors.

While only 25%)of expats agree that their social life is more active since moving abroad, some 60% of expats in Thailand, 52% in Hong Kong, 43% in Singapore and 39% in Malaysia said their social life is better since moving overseas.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Owsley November 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm

This is not true for ESL teachers in China. Most of us work two jobs to stay afloat…we have to because it is becomiing very expensive to live in China…inflation is a factor.


Gary December 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

The Philippines is a much better place to live than China. Costs are much lower than the rest of Asia… Most can speak and understand English, try that in China.


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