Top Expat Destinations – HSBC Expat Explorer Survey

In their most recent survey (2017), HSBC quizzed over 27,000 expats from across the world, encouraging them to share their thoughts on their new location. The data is presently used widely by HR, global mobility and talent professionals that are involved in the global mobility and expat selection process, however the survey is also useful for employees that are in the process of relocating, those currently on assignment and others that simply want to see where their city is positioned amongst the global rankings.

Can you guess which locations are at the top?

5. The Netherlands

Looking at the top 5 expat destinations amongst all 46 countries surveyed, The Netherlands’ position ascended substantially from 15th place in 2016 to 5th place in 2017. Impressively, The Netherlands also ranked 1st for ‘Family’ with 70% of expat parents feeling their children’s health and wellbeing is better in The Netherlands than their home location.

4.  Germany

In the 2016 survey Germany was 10th on the list, however 2017 saw Germany’s position improve dramatically, jumping up 6 spaces to become the 4th best destination for expatriates. The reason for this rise may be the fact that over 60% of expats ranked Germany (and more specifically Berlin) affordable in terms of cost of living.

3. New Zealand

Down 1 place from last year, New Zealand was able to remain in the top 5 expat destinations. More than half of expats (58%) that moved New Zealand told the survey that the move improved their quality of life. Around 63% of expats purchased property in New Zealand, seemingly settling down for the long-term as 70% of expats surveyed have lived in New Zealand for 5 years or more.

2. Norway

Seen by expats as a great location with excellent work life balance, you can understand why Norway ranked so highly on the list, just missing the top spot. Over 70% of expatriates own property in Norway, which demonstrates that Norway is one of the top choices when it comes to relocating and settling into a new country for the foreseeable future.


Singapore tops the list again for the 3rd year in a row with 476 foreign nationals rating the country top overall for economy, expatriate experience and family. This is not surprising, considering 75% of expats feel the city is much cleaner and safer than their home country, as well as having better schools and a more reliable public transport system. Singapore is clearly the place to be!

Expats ranked Singapore highly on many factors including; career progression, healthcare, quality of life, safety, wage growth and integration. Interestingly, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Kuwait are the top 5 countries where expats have more disposable income, however, none of these locations were in the top 5 for 2017… I look forward to reading survey results for 2018 to see what the changes might be.

Will Singapore hold the top spot for a 4th year in a row and what destinations do you think will be at the top in 2018? Comment below to share your thoughts

Written by Amber Pittard – Global Account Manager – Global Mobility & Expatriate Services at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions