S'pore is top choice for expats for third year: Poll

Almost 75 per cent of those polled in Singapore said it offered better earnings potential than their home country.
Almost 75 per cent of those polled in Singapore said it offered better earnings potential than their home country.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore is the world's top destination for expatriates for the third year running but Switzerland is where they earn the most.

The battle for top spot was tight, with Singapore narrowly beating Norway. New Zealand is third, followed by Germany and then the Netherlands, according to an annual league table produced by British bank HSBC.

It polled 27,587 expats across the world, including 476 here, to compile a ranking of 46 economies.

Almost 75 per cent of those polled here said the country offered better earnings potential than their home country. Indeed, they cited a 42 per cent increase in their annual income since moving here to an average of almost US$118,000 (S$160,000).

But life in Singapore is not cheap, especially for the 40 per cent of those polled who have families.

Almost 90 per cent of this group say childcare here is more expensive than at home, although 26 per cent of all expats here feel their host city - Singapore - offers an excellent education system, compared with only 10 per cent of expats across the entire survey.

Globally, expats have an average annual gross personal income of just under US$100,000 - 25 per cent more than they had at home. That's US$18,000 lower than the average in Singapore. But the place that really takes the cake in pay is Switzerland, where expats earn an average of more than US$193,000 a year - 54 per cent more than what they could draw at home. The top five economies by expat income are Switzerland, India, China, the United States and Hong Kong.

The report also found that investing in property is particularly popular among expats in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Britain, home to some of the most expensive property markets in the world.

Separate research by Savills for HSBC showed prime residential property costs about US$3,800 per sq ft (psf) in Hong Kong, US$1,700 psf in London, US$990 psf in Singapore and US$590 psf in Dubai.

The HSBC poll also noted that 70 per cent of Singaporeans working abroad said their work-life balance has improved since they left home, compared with 53 per cent of expats globally. And 42 per cent of Singaporean expats said their social life is better than it was at home.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore is top choice for expats for third year: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe