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Expat Lifestyle

Thriving quality of life for those living abroad

Two thirds of expats report a better quality of life since relocating, the latest Expat Explorer study finds.

Despite a challenging year, expats are feeling optimistic. As the world re-opens, there's a desire to explore all the opportunities a new community or different culture has to offer. For those who have decided to relocate, there seems to be little sign of regret.

Expats lifestyles in 2021

The 2021 edition of Expat Explorer finds that the majority (67%) of those who live abroad believe their quality of life is better now than in their home country or region. Additionally, more than half of expats (61%) say they have experienced little change to their work situation due to Covid-19.

Overall, things are looking up. Nearly half of expats say their communities have become more supportive in the wake of the pandemic. And more people felt able to settle in quickly this year than in 2020 (23% versus 19%, respectively).

Travel and understanding the local culture are now topping the list of expat priorities in 2021. More traditional factors like career progression remain important, but are less of a factor this year than in others.

Of course, many expats still move abroad with their families, and moving abroad still offers a host of benefits for children. Nearly half (43%) of expat children are perceived as having more confidence and a wider skill set since relocating abroad.

The UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Bahrain, and Malaysia are countries where expat children are observed to learn openness to new cultures​. Furthermore, alongside the Philippines and South Africa, India was called out by expats as a top location for children to make friends.

In terms of wellbeing, Australia has ranked highest at 62%, followed closely by Switzerland (61%) and New Zealand (61%). When it comes to the places where expats feel most fulfilled, Indonesia and the UAE rank highest. 51% of expats describe these as destinations where they can achieve a sense of fulfilment, followed by India (49%), and Taiwan (48%). This comes as Cyprus – another new addition – ranked highly in many elements of expat living, ranked fifth for expat destinations overall.

Getting the full picture

Helping our customers understand, navigate and succeed in an increasingly globalised world is at the heart of everything we do to support those that relocate abroad.

says Cameron Senior, Interim Head of HSBC Expat.

Being able to fully empathise and respond to the realities of expat life is key, which is why we're so committed to conducting the global Expat Explorer study year on year. The more insights we have, the better placed we'll be to provide products and services that genuinely meet the needs of our customers, wherever they are in the world.


All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

The Expat Explorer survey, in its fourteenth year in 2021, is the longest running independent global survey of expats. Commissioned by HSBC Expat and conducted by a third party research company YouGov, 20,460 expats based in over 46 countries and regions were questioned in April and May 2021.

In order for the results and league tables to be statistically significant, we need a minimum sample size of 100 expat respondents from each location. Although we had respondents from over 100 locations this year, 46 met the minimum number of responses required.

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Read how the the expat community is feeling optimistic.
Read the full report and find out how expat life is thriving.
Your guides to expat life in a selection of countries and regions.