The 5 Best Countries for Expats, Ranked

Singapore is the best country in the world to live as an expatriate for the fourth year in a row, according to a new report from HSBC Bank. The study is based on survey results of more than 22,000 expats from many different home countries who live and work abroad. Ranking for each country is based on three overall factor groups: experience (quality of life, safety, etc.), economics (income, politics, etc.), and families (education, healthcare, etc.)

HSBC studied people who are locally employed or posted indefinitely to a full-time job at a competitive salary. Results have essentially nothing to do with desirability as a visitor destination, nor do they reflect desirability for retirement specific to U.S. or Canadian income—but they do suggest where the world’s expats are happiest.

The 5 Best Countries for Expats

Each of the three broad scoring groups includes nine specific factors, some of which enter into more than one group:

  • The Economics factors include disposable income, wage growth, savings, economic confidence, entrepreneurship, politics, career progression, work/life balance, and job security.
  • The Experience group includes quality of life, culture, health, making friends, integration, safety, finance, healthcare, and property.
  • The Family group includes integration, health, quality of life, overall cost of children, childcare quality, school quality, closeness with partner, social life, and tolerance.

Thinking (or simply daydreaming) about moving abroad? Here’s how each of the top countries ranked, and which areas they excelled in.

First Place: Singapore

As you might expect, to come out on top Singapore ranked high for all three factor groups—but it did especially well in economics. Its only low economic ranking is for work/life balance: It’s a good place for workaholics. Singapore’s experience rankings are high for most individual factors, but low for culture, making friends, and integration. Its family rankings are good for every individual factor other than overall cost of children, where it ranks very low. But the high paying jobs might help with those affordability issues.

Second: New Zealand

New Zealand‘s high ranking reflects its position as excellent for family, where the only low-ranking factor is social life. It also ranks high in the experience group, with property as the only low ranking area. It loses ground, however, in the economics group, with low rankings scores for disposable income, wage growth, and savings.

Third: Germany

Germany earns a high ranking for economics, doing well in all of the individual factors. It does reasonably well in the family group, with low ratings only for integration and social life: To get along, learn the language and try to fit in. Experience rankings are in the midrange for most experience elements, but low for making friends and property.

Fourth: Canada

A high place for Canada should come as no surprise to residents of North America: It enjoys many of the features of the U.S. while suffering from comparatively fewer quality-of-life problems. In some ways, therefore, a less-than-top ranking for experiences is somewhat of a surprise, although the only truly low-ranking factor is making friends. Canada does well in the economics group, with mediocre positions only for disposable income and savings. Canada’s is a good place for most family factors, but not as much for closeness with partner and social life.

Fifth: Bahrain

This small Middle Eastern nation has long been a relative island of calm among its fractious neighbors. Bahrain’s economics rankings are good to excellent except for economic confidence—probably a reflection more of its neighborhood than of the kingdom itself. The experience rankings are mostly high, except for low positions in culture, health, and integration.

Other Top Expat Countries

The remaining overall rankings, in decreasing order, are: Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, France, India, Indonesia, Spain, Malaysia, Mexico, Hong Kong, Ireland, Vietnam, Russia, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Turkey, Poland, Saudi Arabia, China, Philippines, South Africa, Japan, and Brazil.

The full report includes lots of additional information about each country.