Singapore harbour seen from an aeroplane

Singapore was rated the best place to live abroad in HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey 2018

In nearly two decades of living abroad, I met people from a wide range of backgrounds, learnt about new cultures and saw life from a different perspective. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, every step of the way.

Moving overseas can be hugely rewarding, but you don’t have to take my word for it. More than 20,000 people currently living outside their home country have explained what they love about the experience in the latest Expat Explorer survey from HSBC.

Research the place where you intend to move

The research, which includes a league table of destinations ranked in order of popularity, has Singapore as the best place to live and work overall. But many other locations are attractive for a range of reasons.

For those motivated by financial rewards, Switzerland, the USA and China are among the places to offer substantial wages to the right candidates. Indeed, people moving overseas add an average USD21,000 to their annual salary, according to our survey.

Take a leap

The Expat Explorer survey investigates the attitudes and experiences of people currently living outside their home country. The 2018 survey was completed by 22,318 expats from 163 countries and territories through an online questionnaire in March and April 2018. It was conducted by YouGov and commissioned by HSBC Expat. To find out more about the survey and read the full results, visit the Expat Explorer global report.

Others make the move abroad to improve the lives of their family. New Zealand is a popular choice for people who want their children to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. Germany’s short working week may also give parents more time at home. Meanwhile, more than half of those who move to Thailand say the working culture has made them happier, less stressed and more fulfilled.

Some people move overseas in search of a new adventure. It is a great way to immerse yourself in a different language and culture. Time spent abroad can help you expand your horizons, whether you stay for a year or a decade.

But relocating also has its challenges. From visas to work permits, navigating paperwork in a second language can be tough. Legal traditions and public services also vary from place to place. It is important for everyone to understand the legal conditions for buying or renting property, for instance; for parents to understand when and how to enrol their child for school; and for pet owners to be aware of quarantine and microchipping requirements.

Planning ahead helps. Research the place where you intend to move. Get in touch with friends or colleagues who know the country, or read the Expat Explorer Country Guides for guidance on expat life there. Embassies and official bodies also offer online advice.

On top of these considerations, the financial side can be complicated, and two-thirds of those surveyed said they have had to manage their money more closely since moving abroad. For example, people living overseas need to know how to transfer money safely, manage accounts across multiple currencies and understand their tax obligations in different jurisdictions. Legal and financial professionals, including banks such as HSBC, are there to help.

Making the first step abroad requires courage, but the rewards are well worth it. With the right preparation, you will enjoy an adventure that will stay with you all your life.

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