Expat Explorer 2015: health vs wealth

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Singapore was ranked the number one expat destination in HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey.

In its 8th year, HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey is an annual survey that questions expats about their experience of life abroad compared to their previous life at home. The survey includes questions about the expat’s perception of the changes to their health, their careers and lifestyle. The results are based on the responses of 21,950 expats living around the world.

In this year’s survey, Singapore was ranked the top expat destination, replacing Switzerland that topped the survey last year.


Singapore has a reputation for being extremely costly but with the average expat wage over $200,000 per annum (compared to just 13% of expats globally), it is understandable why expats do not mind the additional cost. Other factors apart from salary which rank Singapore in first place overall include opportunities for career development, quality of life, culture and health. Interestingly however, despite getting top marks in many categories, Singapore did not come out on top in terms of health.

3064290584_5b827e538b_zExpat health

The survey focused on three areas of health and found the following results:

  • New Zealand #1 country for ease of arranging healthcare abroad
  • Spain #1 country for general health
  • New Zealand #1 country for raising healthy children

Looking at health in its entirety, taking into account the aforementioned factors, New Zealand was given the top spot in terms of expat health.

After delving further into the figures, it is clear why New Zealand have passed with flying colours. The active, outdoor lifestyle has a positive effect on children agreed 76% of the expat parents. 68% also agree that setting up your health care provider and getting all arrangements in place is straightforward. Parents too are enjoying the health rewards, with 57% agreeing that they have become more physically active since their move abroad.

6325401535_de8687a23f_zHealthy hotspots

Don’t go rushing to southern hemisphere just yet however, as the survey also found that more than half (52%) of expats in the Middle East are enjoying health and medical benefits. Despite the fact that the work-life balance is not looked upon favourably in Hong Kong, employers make up for this with great health packages offered to their employees. 66% of expats in Hong Kong receive this benefit compared with the global average of 52%. Malaysia, despite not reaching the heights of New Zealand has some of the best health benefits with 73% of expat employees receiving it.

UK health trippers

The survey uncovered the motivations of the expats in question. For UK expats, moving abroad had obvious health benefits, 53% of British expats reported that they became more active after moving abroad and 40% of British children play more sport. Interestingly, when compared to other nationalities, 47% of Brits move abroad in a bid to improve their general health and well being compared to the global average of 37%.

Climate is also major motivation for the British, with 28% of UK expats prioritising the climate over other factors compared with 15% of expats globally. If you’ve ever been on an underwhelming British holiday you can understand why. A better climate obviously has a great affect on health: 68% of British expats that have moved to Australia report that their overall health and fitness levels have increased significantly compared to 34% of expats globally.

8522250628_fcf7e96d03_zExpat life and motivations

If it’s more money and better quality of life you are after, hop on a plane to Singapore. If health is your number one priority, perhaps New Zealand is your answer. If you are simply chasing the sun, like many British expats, join the club.

Interestingly of the 21,950 expats questioned, 61% of them did not see a huge increase in their salary after relocating. These considerations lead us to the natural question: for a expat considering moving abroad what is more important – health or wealth?

[Images: Mike BehnkenJan ReurinkBarbara Willi]