Expats living in France like to immerse themselves in the local culture

New York for a career boost, Sydney for sport, or Boston to start a business? The world’s cities offer a range of opportunities to people who want to experience life as an expatriate.

A crucial part of the appeal of cities is their sense of identity – the strengths and specialisms that make them distinctive

A crucial part of the appeal of cities is their sense of identity – the strengths and specialisms that make them distinctive. The latest HSBC Expat Explorer survey asked urban expats what they thought about their chosen home, painting a picture of the different attractions of cities around the world. For example:

  • Culture: Historic cities such as Paris may appeal strongly to expats in search of new cultural experiences. Some 77 per cent of expats living in the French capital enjoy immersing themselves in the local culture. The vast majority (92 per cent) are also learning French.

  • Lifestyle: Moving abroad can be an opportunity to change your pace of life. Sydney has a wealth of parks, beaches and sports facilities. Most expats living in Sydney (59 per cent) say they are more active since moving there.

  • Security: Toronto offers a change of pace of a different kind, with most expats (63 per cent) saying that they feel safer since moving. Toronto is particularly popular with older expats (aged 55 and above).

  • Career: London and New York are seen as particularly good locations for a career boost. More than 70 per cent of expats in these cities expect that their job prospects will be brighter when they return home.

  • Salary: Those who want a pay rise may be drawn to cities such as Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. The highest-earning expats of all live in Zurich. About 44 per cent of expats in the Swiss city earn more than USD200,000 a year, according to our survey.

  • Enterprise: 10 per cent of expats living in San Francisco moved there to start or grow their own business. The Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province is China’s enterprise hotspot, with 22 per cent of expats owning their own business – double the global average.

As well as their distinctive strengths, many cities share some common features that make it relatively straightforward for newcomers to settle in. They tend to offer a range of jobs and have extensive infrastructure, such as public transport, a wide choice of schools, and universities.

As a result, cities are magnets for internationally mobile people. About 37 per cent of people living in London were born outside the UK, compared with 13 per cent of people in the country as a whole. About 39 per cent of people in New York City and nearby areas speak a language other than English at home. And other major cities, from San Francisco to Singapore, are home to hundreds of thousands of people born abroad.

Moving abroad involves risks as well as opportunities. It is important to research your intended destination. But whatever your ambitions, there is a city to match – and most people who take the plunge find that the rewards are worth it.

Read the full media release on the Expat Explorer Achieving ambitions abroad report.

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