Singapore the 5th top career destination for expats: HSBC survey

European countries Switzerland, Sweden and Germany are the top destinations for people thinking of relocating and developing their career abroad, a survey from HSBC has found.

The Expat Explorer survey - which was commissioned by HSBC Expat, the global bank's offshore financial services group - asked 21,950 respondents to an online questionnaire about which countries were best for their careers, in terms of criteria such as work/life balance, job security and earnings potential.

"Europe offers the best all-round careers experience, especially for aspects such as job satisfaction," explained Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat, in a press release accompanying the survey's publication.

"Ambitious expats looking to move up the ladder will take a keen interest in Asia, while the financial rewards generally on offer in the Middle East provide an enticing prospect."

A survey last year by HSBC Expat found that Middle East countries such as Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia offer the best financial rewards for people thinking of living and working abroad.

An expat? You'll get the fattest packages here

  • Not only does Japan offer expatriates a cultural adventure, thriving culinary scene and top-notch infrastructure but also the heftiest benefit packages in the region, according to a new survey.
  • The value of a typical expatriate pay package for middle managers in Japan amounts to US$375,289 (S$496,747) per year on average, ECA International's annual MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey, released on Thursday, showed.
  • Expatriate pay packages factor in three main elements: salary, benefits - such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars - and tax.
  • Japan continues to top the ranking because of lofty income tax rates and the high cost of benefits in the country, said Lee Quane, regional director, Asia at human resources consultant ECA International.
  • After Japan, the value of expat packages was highest in Australia, India, China and Hong Kong, respectively.
  • While the top five countries remained unchanged from last year, Quane says one notable shift that has taken place in recent years is that expats are able to obtain bigger packages in China compared with Hong Kong.
  • A total package for an expatriate middle manager in mainland China is worth around US$276,400, compared with US$271,400 in Hong Kong.
  • "Previously, China ranked below Hong Kong, but in the past couple of years, it has overtaken Hong Kong due to a few factors," said Quane.
  • Not all Chinese cities require such high packages, though. The cost of benefits provision in tier-2 locations is still much lower than in tier-1 cities and if those cities.
  • It may have become difficult to land an expat package since the global financial crisis as corporations look to cut costs, but Quane says they are by no means a thing of the past.
  • "Going by geography there are certain locations where even junior level staff will get packages, for example, Malaysia or Pakistan," he said.
  • However, in cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong, where enough expats are willing to relocate to, getting the extra benefits is tougher.
  • "In such locations, it's common for expats to be offered the same terms as a local national," he said.

Here are the top five career destinations for expats:


The home of global banking hubs Zurich and Geneva came top of the Expat survey, with 65 per cent of expats in Switzerland saying the country offers higher salaries than at home. The country's working culture was praised by 53 per cent and 43 per cent said they enjoyed more job security.


Expats living in Sweden enjoy the best work-life balance in the world, according to the survey: 72 per cent of expats felt they had a better balance there than at home.


Germany's work culture is highly rated by 56 per cent of expats in the country. Also, pay is quite favourable in Germany, with expats across all industries earning an average of US$90,400 (S$128,600) a year.


Russia is a popular destination for those looking to acquire new skills and for fulfilling work; each criteria was recommended by 62 per cent of expats living there.


Singapore was the top overall Asian country in the rankings:62 per cent of expats living in the country said their earnings prospects are better than at home and 59 per cent said it is a good place to progress their careers.

Top 10 career destinations:

1. Switzerland

2. Sweden

3. Germany

4. Russia

5. Singapore

6. United Arab Emirates

7. Bahrain

8. Hong Kong

9. Saudi Arabia

10. USA