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A Rewarding But Challenging Life

By HSBC Offshore


Summary: What countries are easy for expatriates to integrate into, and which countries are more challenging? HSBC examined this critical question as part of its Expat Explorer survey.

HSBC Explorer Survey - A Rewarding But Challenging Life

"At least half of all expats find most elements of expat living easy, but there are always exceptions."

While expat life is generally a very rewarding experience, there are also many challenges that expats face as a result of relocating to a foreign country. In addition to the more social aspects such as making friends, setting up finances, utilities and healthcare are just some of the other factors to deal with when organising a new life.

Overall, the research found that Canada is the easiest place to set up home. It scored well across all categories, with 'making expat friends' the only category where it was ranked outside of the top ten. It scored in the top three for setting up utilities, making local friends and joining community groups.

Expats living in English-speaking countries have less trouble with language barriers, regardless of their origins. However, learning the local language remains the largest expat challenge of all. Hong Kong's language barrier is the biggest hurdle, with almost three-quarters (72%) finding that learning the language is very difficult.

Only a quarter of expats overall (29%) said that they found it difficult to sort out accommodation in their new country of residence. Looking at the regions, exactly half of the expats living in the UAE find accommodation difficult to arrange. Similarly, over a third (41%) of expats living in the UK find it difficult to sort out suitable accommodation. This differs significantly to Australia and the US where finding accommodation is relatively simple - just one-fifth (21%) and (15%) respectively find it difficult. Interestingly, those earning more than $250,000 are more likely to run into difficulty when looking for accommodation.

Singapore is cooking on gas when it comes to utilities, with a staggering 82% of all expats finding them easy to arrange.

The most difficult place to arrange utilities is the UAE where two-thirds (60%) found it less than easy to sort out.

In terms of healthcare, just 30% and 31% of UK and US-based expats reported that they found healthcare relatively simple to arrange. Overall, half (50%) of expats said that setting up healthcare was easy when moving to their country of residence.

Brazil and Japan are two countries where expats claimed that they found it difficult to organise their finances, with almost half (47% and 45% respectively) saying that they found organising their finances the greatest challenge. Women find it more difficult than men - with one in three saying they've found it confusing in the past. Almost one in three (31%) expats living in the UK also found it difficult - one of the highest percentages around the world.

About the Author

We're the HSBC Group's specialist provider of Premier offshore banking and wealth management to expatriates. We help expats manage, grow and protect their wealth and, depending on individual circumstances, achieve potential tax savings. To see how you can make the most of offshore with our award-wining multi-currency savings accounts and experienced International Wealth Management professionals visit

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Comments about this Article

May 19, 2014 12:17

In overall research, how is southern France living arrangements for women ?

First Published: Mar 21, 2010

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