France, the Netherlands and Australia are the top countries in the world for expats raising children but expats often have to choose between financial gain and child friendly locations, research shows.

Countries which provide expats with the greatest benefits in terms of salary and economic rewards don’t always provide the best quality of life for children and families, according to the 2011 HSBC Expat Explorer survey.

The findings of the world’s largest global survey of expats reveal that the countries which offer the greatest benefits in terms of overall wealth, disposable income, and luxuries for expats are often those in which it is hardest for families to integrate and in which standards of childcare and general health and wellbeing are lower.

The Raising Children Abroad league table ranks countries on three main factors important for expat parents: childcare, health and wellbeing, and integration. It shows that children in the top three countries appear to lead a much healthier lifestyle. They are more likely to be spending more time outdoors and playing sport.

However, expats living in these countries benefit from a child friendly environment at the cost of wider economic benefits. These countries find themselves towards the bottom of the rankings in the Expat Economics league table with France at 28, Netherlands at 29 and Australia at 21, revealing that expats in these locations are less likely to benefit from higher salaries or accumulate luxuries.
‘Expats with children will obviously be putting their children’s needs at the forefront of their relocation decision. For many expat parents, the knowledge that their children will be able to easily integrate into their new community will outweigh any potential increase in earnings and saving potential when moving,’ said Lisa Wood, head of marketing at HSBC Expat.
The survey also shows that expats living in the UK face the highest childcare costs with annual costs equating to $12,790 per child (£7,790).

France also scores well for social integration amongst expat children, with expat parents more likely to say their children are not missing friends and family at home, 58%, compared to the global average of 35%. The report suggests this is perhaps due to children in France being more likely to keep in touch with those back home.

Expat parents in France also spend more time with their children since moving abroad. In addition, 62% think their children are safer following their relocation.

The UK is last in the Raising Children Abroad league table due to expensive childcare costs and poor social integration. Nearly one third, 27%, of expats parents in the UK believe the social integration of their children has deteriorated since relocating.