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Expat Wealth Heads To Southeast Asia: HSBC
Published in Amwal Al Ghad on 11 - 10 - 2012

Southeast Asia has come to the fore as a leading destination for expat earning potential according to the latest findings from HSBC Expat's Expat Explorer survey. The largest global survey of expats shows that Singapore this year tops the Expat Explorer Economics league table, which ranks countries based on a number of factors such as earning levels, disposable income and ability to accumulate luxuries. Four additional countries in the region also make the top ten, including Thailand (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), China (7th) and Vietnam (10th).
In the midst of wider global turmoil, expats in Southeast Asia continue to benefit from increased earnings with Singapore holding the largest proportion of wealthy expats of any country. More than half (54%) of Singapore-based expats who took part in the Expat Explorer survey earn more than $200,000 USD per year, compared to a global survey average of only 7%.
Furthermore, four in five (80%) expats in Singapore saw an increase in their disposable income since relocating. This trend for increased earnings is mirrored across other Asian countries, with expats in Hong Kong (79%), Malaysia (72%) and China (69%) benefiting from an increase in disposable income since moving to the country.
The annual Expat Explorer survey, now in its 5th year, is the largest global survey of expats. HSBC Expat's Expat Explorer surveyed 5,339 expats from nearly 100 countries worldwide; making it the largest ever sample to date. The findings reflect the views of survey respondents living and working abroad.
Commenting on the findings, Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat says:
"The Expat Explorer survey provides a wealth of information and is a valuable resource for the expat community, especially for those looking at trends in the migration of expat earning potential from country to country. While Southeast Asia has historically been a popular choice for those looking for increased quality of life, we're also seeing a steady increase in the levels of expat wealth heading to the region. These two factors combined indicate that the region is fast becoming an all-round top expat destination."
Despite strong outlook, many Middle Eastern expats only plan a short term stay
Expats in the Middle East show higher levels of satisfaction in the state of their economy (Oman, 90% satisfied; Qatar, 89%; Saudi Arabia, 83%; UAE, 77% and Kuwait 68%) than expats globally (59%) and many have reported being better off financially. Roughly two-thirds of expats in Qatar (67%), Bahrain (66%), and Oman (65%) have reported higher disposable income since relocating to their current country, compared with only 52% of expats globally.
Despite the positive outlook, many expats are actively looking to leave the region. Roughly one third of expats in Saudi Arabia (34%), Qatar (30%) and Oman (29%) are actively looking to leave their current country for either another posting or to return to their home country, compared to just over one in ten (13%) globally.
However, the desire to leave doesn't seem to indicate that expats are unhappy in their current posting. Instead, the survey shows that many expats who head to the region retain a much stronger affiliation with their home country than expats in general (Qatar, 90% identify strongly with their home country; Saudi Arabia, 90%; UAE, 88%; Bahrain, 87% and Oman, 77%). This suggests that many expats always intended to move to the region for a set period of time, potentially to take advantage of the higher income available, before moving elsewhere or back to their home country.
European expats are willing to weather the Eurozone storm
Expats across Europe have reported feeling the impact of the Eurozone storm but those in Spain are feeling the effects most acutely. Spain-based expats are twice as likely (39%) to feel that their country is off on the wrong track than the global average (19%) and more than half (58%) report that the country they are residing in is getting worse for expats. Although not quite as pronounced as Spain, the sentiment that the country is economically getting worse as a place to live and work for expats is echoed across other European nations including the UK (44%), Netherlands (43%) and France (33%).
Satisfaction with the Eurozone economies is similarly bleak. While those in Spain are most likely to report dissatisfaction with the current state of the economy (92%), expats in the UK (68%) and France (48%) are also more likely to be unhappy with the current state of the local economy than satisfied.
Despite the pessimism towards the current economic environment, expats in Europe are proving resilient to wider Eurozone woes. While more than one in ten (13%) expats globally are actively looking to leave their current country, no expats (0%) in Spain are actively looking to leave and three-quarters (74%) are intending to stay. UK- and France-based expats exhibit similar figures with 71% and 69% respectively intending to stay put (compared to a global average of 62%).
Bucking the trend for European countries is Germany. More than nine in ten (91%) expats in Germany believe that the economic situation in their country is either getting better or staying about the same, with a similar number reporting that they are satisfied with the current state of the economy (86%). In addition, the majority of expats in Germany (61%) think that things are generally heading in the right direction (compared to a global average of 37%) and associate the country with strong political stability (67% vs global 35%).
Dean Blackburn continues: "Despite some of the pressures expats are facing across the globe, financially-minded expats are taking the right precautions to ride out periods of uncertainty and are able to spot the right opportunities to help them weather the storms to advance their careers.
"This is the 5th year we've run the Expat Explorer survey and the quality and depth of the findings continue to provide a wealth of information for the expat community. Not only is our online interactive tool a valuable and trusted resource for expats, the insights also help us as a business offer advice to those looking to grow and protect their wealth while living or working abroad. At HSBC Expat we strive to help our customers make the most of every new opportunity available to them while working and living abroad."

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