Where Are Expats Best Off?

Vietnam, Qatar, Czech Republic and Mexico are the best destinations, in each region, for expats who want to boost their standard of living.

According to HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer survey, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, China and Switzerland also perform strongly for expat personal finances. 

The ability to save more, enjoy greater disposable income or acquire real estate assets are all important considerations for expats moving to a new country.  Offering expats a regional view of the financial benefits on offer, Expat Explorer reveals the best countries to increase one’s standard of living.


The Middle East

Expats in the Middle East enjoy the greatest standard of living globally. Over three-quarters of expats in Qatar saw an increase in their disposable income as a result of moving. This also helps them boost their long-term planning, with 75% being able to save more. One in four say they living in Qatar made it possible for them to own additional property, and a majority can now afford more expensive holidays. Bahrain and the UAE also shine for the Middle East: 68% and 65% respectively of expats there enjoy greater disposable income than they did in their home country.

The region is also home to the second biggest group of expats with annual incomes over US$200,000 (16%, behind Asia Pacific at 19%).  These highest earning expats face increased financial challenges when living abroad: nearly half say their finances have become more complex as a result of moving, which compares to a global average of 30%. With a low tax environment, countries in the Middle East offer this group an unrivalled opportunity to simplify their finances: only 13% of expats in Oman and 16% in Bahrain have seen their finances becoming harder to manage as a result of moving.  


Asia Pacific

In Asia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore stand out for offering expats the chance to save more money and enjoy greater disposable income.

Vietnam tops the regional league table with 67% of expats in the country seeing an increase in their disposable income and 68% increasing the amount they save, but the region performs strongly across the board. Meanwhile in China, 68% of expats enjoy more disposable income living in the country and 65% can save more than they did at home. This makes the country one of the top destinations for improving personal finances.

Although 85% of expats living in Hong Kong say they spend more on accommodation than they did in their country of origin, 67% have more disposable income after moving, and 61% say their ability to save has increased. In Singapore, 65% of expats report greater levels of disposable income, and almost one in four (24%) expats living in India say they’ve been able to buy additional property as a result of moving. 


The Americas

Mexico offers the easiest financial route into the Americas. With 63% of expats in the country spending less on day-to-day bills and 57% enjoying greater disposable income, expats in the country are able to save more (52%) and afford more than one property (21%) and afford more expensive holidays (36%). Almost half of expats in the USA and Canada report a greater ability to save since moving.

For young expats eager to get onto the housing ladder, Canada is one of the best destination globally, with over a quarter (26%) of expats there being able to own their home since moving.



Expat savers in the Czech Republic and Switzerland experience the biggest boost in Europe, with 60% of expats in the countries increasing the amount of money they can put away.

Offering expats with the highest expat salaries globally (US$181,000 p.a. compared to a global average of US$104,000), 65% of expats in Switzerland also enjoy greater disposable income. Sweden and Belgium also have a lot to offer financially: 55% of expats in both countries have more disposable income after moving.