Belgium is the best place in the world for expats with children and overall expats say they have better quality childcare and a better education whilst living abroad, a new survey shows.
A universally recognised education system is important for expat parents, the latest section of HSBC’s Expat Explorer report shows. It is the biggest of its kind and surveys the views of more than 4,100 people living in 100 countries.
Expats in Hong Kong, Singapore and Qatar are the most likely to say that their offspring’s safety has improved but overall Belgium is the best country for raising children, ranking first overall in the Offshore Offspring league table. In particular, Belgium scores well for childcare, coming top out of all fourteen countries for quality of childcare and standard of education available to children.
Half of expats based in Belgium, 50%, think the cost of raising children has improved since relocating, 65% think the cost of childcare has improved in comparison to their home country and 68% think the quality of childcare has improved.
Although childcare in the country is of a high quality expats based in Belgium also benefit from some of the cheapest childcare around, scoring first overall for cost of childcare and second for the overall cost of raising children.
Mainland Europe scores well overall, with Spain in second place followed by France and Germany while the United States is thirteenth and the UK fourteenth at the bottom of the overall league table.
According to this year's survey, expats believe that their children enjoy better quality childcare whilst living abroad when compared to their home country. However, while these benefits are a great draw for those looking to move abroad with children, many expats think the overall cost of raising children actually increases when moving to another country.
Nearly half, 46%, of expats think the quality of childcare has increased since relocating while 37% think the quality of childcare in their new country was equal to that of their home nation. Less than one in five believe there had been a deterioration in the quality of their childcare since moving.
This year's report also shows that expats paying higher childcare costs will not necessarily benefit from better quality childcare. The US and UK both score bottom for quality of childcare as well as scoring the same two bottom positions for cost of childcare. However, this could be because cost of living in general is higher in these countries.
‘With the growth of emerging markets we are seeing more and more people beginning a new life overseas. These results show that parents considering such a move appear to have a lot to gain for themselves and for their children by becoming expats,’ said Lisa Wood, head of customer propositions at HSBC Bank International.
‘While expat parents based in Belgium report that the quality of childcare is higher than in their home country, it also rates as one of the most cost effective places to raise children, showing that top quality childcare does not need be the most expensive,’ she added.
Overall, parents living in Britain said that they did not think their children’s quality of life had improved. One expat living in Britain said: ‘I find everything in the UK quite expensive and the standard of education poor. I’m lucky that my son is able to get into a private school with a scholarship, otherwise I would not be able to afford it.’
By comparison, a family in Belgium described it as ‘great fun and not to be missed for anything in the world’. The education is better than in their ‘home’ country, the childcare is cheaper and better and their children are learning a new language and find it easy to integrate with their new friends, the family added.
One expat said: ‘It has provided the opportunity to build a career and hence financial security for my family. It has been mind opening and enjoyable.’