Quality of life is most important for expats when they retire, survey shows

by Ray Clancy on December 14, 2011

Expats look for good weather and a low cost of living in their destinations for retirement

The key to expat retiree happiness is a good quality of life, good weather and a low cost of living, according to an international survey.

Quality of life is the most important consideration for those retiring abroad with 83% citing this as the main reason when deciding on location, the 2011 HSBC Expat Explorer survey shows. Then 62% take the weather into account and 27% consider family ties.

The survey also found that almost half, 47%, of expats aged over 55 are planning to retire in the country that they currently live in and only one fifth, 19%, plan to return to their home country.

Thailand is rated by 82% as the best place for retirement and also tops the Expat Experience league table. Some 78% rate France as the best country to retire and 62% said Spain.

Countries rated highly as expat retirement destinations also score above average in terms of the ease of integrating into the local community with Thailand rated by 61%, France by 67% and Spain also by 67%. The survey says this suggests that feeling comfortable in the local community and establishing a local support network has an impact on expats’ quality of life when choosing a suitable retirement destination.

High earners, that is those earning over $200,000, are more likely to retire to their home country than those expats on lower salaries, suggesting that, for them, being an expat is a temporary choice linked to earning money and career progression. Some 68% of higher earners became an expat for this reason, compared to just 55% overall.

Canada and Thailand provide a happy medium between work/life balance, increased income and local integration, the survey also found. Expats in countries that are more likely than average to say that their work/life balance has deteriorated since relocating such as Russia (54%) and Hong Kong (48%), score highly on the Expat Economics Income league table, such as Russia in fourth place and Hong Kong in sixth place, but perform less well on the Expat Experience Quality of Life league table with Russia at 29 and Hong Kong at 15.

A poor work/life balance may also impact other areas of expats’ lives such as, making it harder to integrate into the local community. In Hong Kong 22% of expats found it hard to integrate into the community, as did 27% in Russia, compared to just 19% of all expats surveyed.

Expats are divided on whether their work/life balance is better since relocating. Overall, just under half, 48%, agree that their work/life balance has improved and just under a third, 30%, say it hasn’t.

Additionally, perceptions on work/life balance vary depending on expats’ income. Expats earning over $200,000 are less likely to say that this aspect of their life has improved than those earning $200,000 or less.

Expats in countries such as New Zealand, Canada and Thailand were much more likely to say their work life balance has improved since relocating. Expats in these countries are more likely to report it being easy to integrate into the local community than expats overall. Similarly, expats in these countries were more likely than the global average to report a better quality of life compared to their home country.

Even though expats in these countries earn less than expats on average, many of them still said they were earning more since becoming an expat. For example 69% of expats in Canada and 78% in Thailand report an increase in salary since relocating compared to a global average of 71%, suggesting that these countries offer a happy medium between an increase in income and a better work/life balance for expats.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: