Monday, 29 October 2012

Economic uncertainty leads expats to choose longer term investments

This year’s Expat Explorer survey reveals that expats have responded to global economic woes by changing their saving and investment patterns. Broadly speaking, several trends have emerged. First and foremost there has been a shift from cash investments. For some European countries, for example Spain and the UK, the drop in proportion of cash savings has been as much as 8% during time spent living in the country. The largest drop in the proportion of cash investments can be seen amongst expats living in Australia. These have dropped from 42% when they first moved to 29% nowadays. Similarly, in New Zealand 34% of expats held their wealth in cash investments compared to just 18% now.

It’s worth noting here that both Australia and New Zealand are host to a large number of retirees and expat lifers - expats who have lived in their current country for at least three years. These groups of expats are more likely to make long term commitments to their host countries – and what better way to do this than buying a house!

The findings of the survey also revealed that the tendency to hold longer term investments increases with age. Expats aged over 55 are more inclined to hold the majority of their investments in equities and bonds (17%) and real estate (30%) but less likely to invest in cash (22%) than expats on average (28%).

On the other hand, younger expats tend to opt for cash investments and are unlikely to have built up as much of an investment profile. A third of those aged between 18 and 34 hold their investments in cash rather than equities (7%), real estate (12%) and fixed income (5%).

For more results from our Expat Explorer survey, visit our interactive tool.

Monday, 22 October 2012

UK expats may feel the strain of the economic crisis… but they’re here to stay!

Image Source: CreativeCommons/_dChris

There’s no doubt that UK expats are feeling the strain of the economic crisis. However, the results of the 2012 Expat Explorer survey show that the situation isn't affecting their decision to stay on in the country.

Economic confidence may be low in the UK as 68% of UK-based expats describe themselves as dissatisfied with the current state of the economy but the good news is that they have stayed resilient and show few signs of wanting to relocate. Seven in ten expats in the UK are looking to stay long term, while only 7% are looking to move away. This sentiment was mirrored across Europe but most pronounced in Spain. More than nine in ten expats in Spain report dissatisfaction with the current state of the economy – the highest level across all countries included in this year’s survey. However, expats in Spain are the least likely to be looking to move away, with no expats from the survey actively looking to leave the country.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Budgeting for your children abroad

Moving abroad with your children can be such an all-consuming and emotional task that budgeting plans can go out the window. Once you've broken the news to your little ones, described the new house, city, school, helped them pack up their books, toys and clothes, let them say goodbye to their friends – and then helped them find new ones and settle in upon arrival – it’s understandable that budgeting can be forgotten.

Image source: Creative Commons mikebaird 

Here are some top tips to make the budgeting side of moving with children as easy as possible.
  • Look up free things to do with children in your new city. There are usually plenty of blogs, forums or websites to provide this information – instead of going to the cinema, try the beach or a museum
  • Work out how much you aim to spend on your child per week and do your best to stick to it. Draw up a plan of things that they might want to do – swimming, cinema, etc. and decide how many times a week they can do such activities and how much they’ll cost in your new city
  • Speak to other expat parents and see if they have any recommendations for babysitters or childminders. If you want to avoid the extra costs of an agency, often word-of-mouth can be the best way of finding a great babysitter
  • You should research into the cost of education. This can vary dramatically from country to country so start as early as possible and make enquiries about school fees. If you can’t afford the school you want then scholarships and bursaries are an alternative option but again will require some forward thinking. You can check out HSBC’s Education Planning calculator to give you an indication of education costs and more
  • Finally, make a note of your finances, including the amount you spend on yourself, your home and your children. This is often the best way of seeing exactly what you spend money on.  You might be surprised at how much of your discretionary spending can be saved!

If you've got any tips on budgeting for children abroad, let us know in the comment box below!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Expats give the UK a thumbs-up as a great place to live

This year’s Expat Explorer survey has seen the UK leap up the Expat Experience league table to 18th place from 29th in 2011. So, what do expats rate the UK highly for?
  • Friends - Half of UK-based expats said that they’d found it easy to make local friends. Seven in ten reported integrating well within the local community and two thirds feel welcome at work. Just a quarter of expats surveyed spend more time with fellow expats than Brits
  • Love – It appears that expats in the UK are luckier than others when it comes to love interests. Almost half of UK-based expats surveyed have found a life partner since moving to the UK – while only a third of expats worldwide have done the same
  • Culture- The past year and a half alone has seen street parties adorned with bunting as Brits celebrated the Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee and a jam-packed summer of sport with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Perhaps as a result of this over half of UK-based expats are impressed with the local entertainment on offer. Two in three also find the UK a culturally interesting place to live

If you want to see how your country fares, check out the league tables on our interactive tool

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Expat wealth migrates to Southeast Asia while the Middle East best for short-term gain

Image Source: Creative Commons/SuperStriker 2

Singapore leads the way in Expat Economics

First place on this year’s Expat Economics league table goes to Singapore. Surrounding countries weren’t far behind with Thailand (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), China (7th) and Vietnam (10th) all earning their place in the top ten indicating that Southeast Asia has fast become a hotspot for wealthy and ambitious expats.

Singapore holds the largest proportion of wealthy expats of any country in this year’s survey. A staggering four fifths of expats here found that their disposable income had increased since relocation. The country isn’t alone as expats in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China all reported a boost to their finances.

Despite a positive outlook, expats in the Middle East move on fast

Expats in the Middle East are satisfied with the state of the economy and many reported that they are better off financially. However despite economic benefits, many expats are still intent on leaving the region.

Roughly one third of expats in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman are actively looking to leave their current country either for another posting or to return to their home country, compared to just over one in ten globally.

Find out how your country fares on our interactive tool.

Southeast Asia is fast becoming an all-round top expat destination. Have you moved to Southeast Asia, and if so, what do you like about it?

Monday, 8 October 2012

2012 Expat Explorer survey results out today!

We’re thrilled to reveal the latest findings of our biggest and most insightful survey yet. This is the fifth consecutive year we’ve run the survey and more than 5,300 of you - our biggest ever sample to date - found the time to fill out the questionnaire. We would like to say a huge thank you for sharing your experiences and making the survey a truly valuable resource for expats all over the world.

If you’re new to Expat Explorer, the survey covers a huge range of aspects of life abroad, from expat earning hotspots, quality of life indicators to raising children abroad. The full report is available here.

Over the next few days we’ll be blogging and tweeting about our findings too but to give a taster of what the results reveal, the Expat Explorer survey found that:
  • Southeast Asia is increasingly becoming the top destination for both financial opportunity and for quality of life. Singapore tops this year’s expat economics league table
  • Middle Eastern expats have strong outlook on the economy but only plan a short term stay due to closer ties to home
  • Despite economic concerns, European expats are willing to weather the Eurozone storm

If you want to see how your country fares, check out the league tables on our interactive tool.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s findings – let us know using the comment box below or tweet us @expatexplorer

Monday, 1 October 2012

How to research a location before moving there

Finding the right house in the right area is incredibly important for expats moving abroad. For most people, the attitude to looking for a place seems to go one way or the other – either settling for the first thing you see just so that you have one less thing to think about, or suffering sleepless nights and stressed days desperately scanning for every single reference to the country on forums, websites and Twitter. Your dream house may or may not exist, but following some of the below tips may help you to navigate some of the challenges.

Image source: Creative Commons/ james.thompson

  1. Visit the city or area before making any commitments. Plan your trip carefully and give yourself at least a few days to scout different areas. When there, talk to local residents, nip in for a latte at a nearby café, talk to shop owners and have a drink or two in a bar after dark.
  2. Read voraciously but methodically. Websites, online articles and newspapers are all ideal, but make sure you expose yourself to a range of sources to make an informed choice. And, even though they’re aimed at tourists, don’t dismiss guidebooks. They often contain useful information about different areas and amenities, and at the very least will throw up a few great restaurants you can visit when you get there. Reports are also a great way of understanding what to expect. For example our latest HSBC Overseas Property Report shows which cities and countries give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying property as well as countries that may have high fees associated with buying a home.
  3. Speak to the local council. In some countries like the UK, the state school your children attend depends on where you live. See which catchment area you fall into, what taxes you’ll have to pay, and get a general sense of how your area is governed.
  4. Connect with local bloggers (particularly expats) and ask their advice. Chances are, they’d be happy to help you out and share all the information they know.
  5. Once you’ve found a nice-sounding street, look it up on Google maps. Something that bills itself as ‘set within a quiet residential area’ may well be on the busiest street!

What tips do you have? Leave us a comment below!



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