In fact, once expats settle down, life continues to be positive for most of them where more than half (55%) live in a better property than they would have had in their home country. This group also have the means to take more holidays and 28% of them have more domestic help while 18% even say they donate more to charity.
Now in its tenth year, the HSBC Expat Explorer survey is the world’s largest and longest running study of expat life, asking more than 27,500 expats about their experience abroad.
As well as unveiling the best places in the world to live as an expat, the survey also found that life abroad typically increases expats’ income by 25%, with expats earning just under US$100,000 a year on average. Far from compromising their wellbeing, expats seem to find the right balance. Four in 10 (41%) expats adopt a more positive outlook on life after moving abroad, with 44% becoming more physically active.
The expat experience in Malaysia is also a sociable one with 61% say they found it easy to make friends. This is in comparison to the global figure of 53% and regional figure of 55%.
In terms of active social life, 44% say they have better social lives now than they did at home compared to 31% of all expats around the world and 40% regionally. For children, Malaysia ranks eight for making new friends and 43% say their children have formed new friendships easily here and overall, 44% of all expats living in Malaysia say they are happier since the move.
“Malaysia continues to draw expats with Europeans (44%) and Eastern Asia (18%) forming the bulk of expats here, according to this year’s findings. One of the reasons why they love settling down here are the friendly nature of our people. Looking for accommodation, organising healthcare and schooling are all easy to do in Malaysia, hence the plus points for expats to move here,” Lim Eng Seong, Country Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Malaysia.
HIGHER INCOMES, SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS
While the average expat income globally is at USD99,903, three countries in Asia are at the top of the rankings for expat income - India (USD176,408), China (USD170,970) and Hong Kong (USD148,410). Malaysia’s average expat income is USD98,072.
Against a global average of 25%, many expats in Asia said they have experienced an uplift in income of at least 10%, including Australia (59%), China (64%), Hong Kong (70%), India (66%), Indonesia (60%), Malaysia (47%), New Zealand (56%), the Philippines (31%), Singapore (70%), Taiwan (30%) and Vietnam (44%).
“A closer look at the financial appeal of expat life shows us that Asia continues to draw expats from all over the globe for its buoyant economic prospects. We still see a significant proportion of expats coming from Europe and North America but also a robust pool of Asian expats working in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China – all trying to capture opportunities from the region’s fast-growing consumer services sector, increased tech and digital focus and infrastructure push. Continued growth in China and ASEAN will require a diverse mix of talent from people who are internationally mobile,” added Eng Seong.
Globally, 52% of expats say they are able to save more than in their home country. Expats in Asia say they are able to save more than the global average including China (55%), India (64%), Indonesia (61%), Malaysia (63%), Philippines (60%), Singapore (65%), Taiwan (62%) and Vietnam (72%).
At the global level, expats say that their savings and investments are first directed towards long-term financial goals such as funding their retirement (45%), buying their first or next property (34%) and protecting themselves and their family, property and possessions (27%).
The financial advantages of expats in Asia also include better health and medical allowances than global peers: China (48%), Hong Kong (60%), India (52%), Indonesia (64%), Malaysia (63%), the Philippines (63%), Singapore (58%), Taiwan (47%) and Vietnam (49%). And more annual trips home: China (48%), Hong Kong (21%), India (40%), Indonesia (47%), Malaysia (35%), the Philippines (51%), Taiwan (25%) and Vietnam (42%).
Eng Seong explains: “The financial benefits that an expat career brings are enormous; but this also means that their financial needs are more complex. Managing accounts in multiple markets and currencies, health and protection cover, as well as saving and investing for education, retirement and property aspirations are key aspects of a holistic financial plan for expats and their families.
“Their future plans will dictate how complex their financial arrangements are. Short-stayers who intend to return home after living in just one country will have relatively simple needs but will still need to move money and navigate exchange rates. Serial expats who live in one host country after another, may need multi-country accounts and manage assets in different countries.
Those returning home after long periods abroad may also need assistance in consolidating their finances and rebuilding their credit history. Wherever they live, expats should seek financial advice from a trusted provider who can help them manage their more complex financial affairs.”
THE OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE
The desire for a better quality of life is the second most common reason people move abroad and expat life doesn’t disappoint. Expats in Australia (70%) and Singapore (64%) are particularly happy with their quality of life compared to 52% of expats globally who say that they enjoy a better quality of life after they moved.
The survey also reveals life abroad can help expats to live a healthier lifestyle. More than two-fifths (44%) are now more physically active and 33% take part in more outdoor activities. Those in Australia (56%), Hong Kong (50%), Malaysia (45%), New Zealand (58%), Singapore (54%) and Taiwan (45%) find themselves the most physically active out of expats in Asia. As a result, 36% of expats worldwide report an improvement in their physical health.
Children also benefit from the expat experience. Globally, two-fifths (59%) of expat parents say their children’s overall quality of life has improved with the highest results in Asia in Australia (79%), India (61%) and Singapore (74%).
Parents often find setting up childcare and schooling easier in Asia: Australia (44%), India (40%), Indonesia (47%), Malaysia (52%), New Zealand (66%), the Philippines (50%) and Singapore (41%), against a global average of 39% saying that it is easy to set up childcare and schooling for their children in their host country.
Parents in Vietnam (33%), India (37%), Indonesia (41%), Malaysia (46%), Taiwan (47%) and the Philippines (58%), say it is less expensive to raise children in their host countries against a global average of 22%.
Those in Asia who say they have more help in the home against a global average of 18% include Singapore (22%), Malaysia (28%), China (35%), Hong Kong (37%), Vietnam (46%), India (53%), Indonesia (55%) and the Philippines (57%).