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The top ten countries for expats

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
"Stunning scenery."
  • Adam Rasmi
By Adam Rasmi


Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

For the first time in four years, Singapore is not the best destination for expatriate workers, according to HSBC’s Expat 2019 Global Report released today. Switzerland is now the top nation for those fortunate enough to be relocated abroad by their employers—thanks to fast career progression, good pay, and “stunning scenery.”

Overall 2019 rankings

🇨🇭 Switzerland1
🇸🇬 Singapore2
🇨🇦 Canada3
🇪🇸 Spain4
🇳🇿 New Zealand5
🇦🇺 Australia6
🇹🇷 Turkey7
🇩🇪 Germany8
🇦🇪 UAE9
🇻🇳 Vietnam10

The annual survey gathered data from 18,059 overseas workers in 163 locations. Switzerland ranked high in quality of life, with 70% of expats based there saying it had a better natural environment than their home nations, compared to a global average of 40% for all expats. Respondents also highlighted the country’s low crime rate and its economic and political stability, factors which helped push the country’s ranking from the number eight to number one spot this year.

Though employees relocating to Switzerland can enjoy on average a healthy paycheck of $111,587 a year, far above the $75,966 global average for expats, it trails places like Shanghai and Dubai, where expats can earn between $140,000 and $150,000 on average.

The survey breaks the findings into three sub-categories: living, career opportunity, and family life. Canada tops the list in the first category, with respondents saying it’s a welcoming country, followed by Spain where expats praise its relaxed Mediterranean vibe. Switzerland scores high on career opportunity, thanks in part to quicker promotions, and Singapore tops the list for family life due to the availability of high-quality schools.

Category rankings

CountryOverallLivingCareerFamily life
🇨🇭 Switzerland1st7th1st4th
🇸🇬 Singapore2nd6th7th1st
🇨🇦 Canada3rd1st6th5th
🇪🇸 Spain4th2nd22nd2nd
🇳🇿 New Zealand5th3rd8th9th

It’s important to remember these results apply to expats—people that are generally more affluent and educated than local populations, and in particular immigrants from poor countries. Unlike other categories of migrants, expats generally live abroad on a temporary basis, and many have some or all expenses paid by their employers.

HSBC is clear that its survey is specific to expats only—as are other, similar rankings done by Mercer and the Economist Intelligence Unit—even if news reports covering the rankings read them as an overall verdict on general populations.

This story was updated to reflect corrections in category rankings made by HSBC after the report’s publication.

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