Singapore dethroned by Switzerland as overall best place for expats but stays top for families: Survey

Switzerland is home to some of the biggest private banks, commodity traders and pharmaceuticals companies. PHOTO: BH FILE

SINGAPORE - Switzerland is now the best place in the world for expats to live and work. It took the crown from second-placed Singapore, which held it for four straight years since 2015, according to the latest edition of HSBC's annual survey.

HSBC credited quality of life, highly competitive salaries and stunning surroundings for Switzerland's vault to the top from eighth place last year.

The average Swiss salary of US$111,587 (S$151,290) is 47 per cent higher than the US$75,966 mean pay package across the 33 nations surveyed by HSBC in the 12th edition of its annual expat country ranking. Seven of 10 expats said they had more disposable income after moving to Switzerland.

Singapore, however, remains the best destination for expats relocating with children due to its well-regarded education system, job stability and opportunities, and quality of life.

It is also the only Asian city state that is ranked in the top three.

One of Singapore's biggest draws is its safety and clean environment, with 85 per cent of expats surveyed feeling safer and more secure in the island nation, and appreciating the "very clean and safe public spaces" it offers. This is significantly higher than the global average of 48 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

Singapore also scored significantly higher than the global average when it comes to having an "excellent education system" (47 per cent versus 26 per cent), and being "a good place to raise children" (54 per cent vs 28 per cent).

The survey found that 62 per cent of expats think the quality of education their children receive is better in Singapore than it would be in their home country, again much higher than the global average of 36 per cent.

Expats in Singapore also said the benefits of raising children here include fluency in more than one language and openness to new experiences and cultures, all of which the country scored higher than the global average.

But while it was top for family needs, Singapore placed seventh in the survey's "aspiring" table, which covers financial criteria such as increases in income since moving abroad and economic stability, and ambition criteria like scope for career progression and work-life balance.

It was sixth in the "living" table, which includes questions on quality of life, physical and mental well-being, fulfilment, local culture and political stability.

The HSBC Expat's Annual League Table of Best Places to Live and Work 2019 surveyed 18,059 expats in 163 countries through an online questionnaire in February and March 2019.

"Our research shows that internationally mobile people are looking for places that match their priorities, goals and objectives. Singapore in particular tops the 'Little Expat league table' which looks at expats' attitudes and opinions about family life in their adopted city," said Mr Ian Yim, head of wealth and international at HSBC Bank (Singapore).

"Singapore government's ongoing focus on getting its fundamentals right in staying ahead and intensifying competition globally will ensure it remains an attractive destination for expats for years to come."

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