Global expats’ optimism revealed in new survey

Almost two thirds (65%) of expats feel optimistic about the coming year, despite the uncertainty of the past 18 months, according to a global survey of more than 20,000 – people who live and work abroad. The 14th annual Expat Explorer study reveals the main reason fuelling optimism is their hope to live ‘normally’ again (75%), but six in ten (61%) are also feeling positive because of the quality of life they will be able to enjoy. Expats in Taiwan are the most optimistic (85%), closely followed by those in Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam (all 83%). The study discovers that destinations where a sense of stability has remained came out highly. Almost all expats based in Australia, Switzerland, and Jersey cited their location as a ‘stable’ place to live in the next 12 months. They came out: Australia (92%), Switzerland (92%), Jersey (90%).

Expats not put off by pandemic

The upheaval triggered by the pandemic has not reduced expats’ desire to live and work abroad. The vast majority intend to stay in their host destination for the foreseeable future, with 80% intending to continue living in their host country for the next year at least, with only 7% planning to relocate. More than two thirds (67%) of expats also believe their quality of life is better in their current location; those based in Indonesia and UAE feel the most fulfilled – 51% say they feel a stronger sense of fulfilment since moving there. In addition, around the world, over two in five (46%) expats believe that their host communities have become more supportive during the global health crisis. That said, the report also flags up some of the challenges that expats have dealt with during the pandemic. Over half (63%) have been stopped from travelling abroad for business, and the majority (90%) were unable to see family or friends in their home countries. Yet it also points to the resilience of the global expat community, as two in five (42%) say they were able to continue to manage their physical health, and over a third (36%) continued to spend time outside. Cameron Senior, Interim Head of HSBC Expat, said: “Despite incredibly challenging times, I am encouraged to see sparks of optimism among global expats. Our study confirms that expats continue to thrive in their host countries, and many are looking forward to remaining there for the foreseeable future. Following many months of uncertainty, I’m heartened to hear how expats are benefitting from relocating – over two-thirds told us they feel their quality of life is better now, albeit with a lot of changes. He added: “Despite their positivity, I’m very mindful of the disruption they have experienced (which remains ongoing in certain locations) including their ability to see family or friends in their home countries, and travel for business. This reality puts their optimism in even sharper focus, and makes me more determined to fully support our expat customers as they navigate life away from home. So much has changed for global expats but I’m impressed by their resilience and optimism for the future.”

In addition, the research focuses on expats’ financial lives, to monitor their financial goals in 2022. Three fifths (60%) wish to save for their retirement, almost a third are looking to build up an emergency savings fund (31%) and saving to purchase a property (30%). Over a fifth (23%) are saving or investing money for their children’s education. Overall, expats ranked the following locations as the top 10 places to live and work in 2021:

1. Switzerland

2. Australia

3. New Zealand

4. UAE

5. Guernsey

6. Jersey

7. Isle of Man

8. Bahrain

9. Singapore

10. Qatar

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