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Future outlook

Expats report optimism in 2021

Expat Explorer – the longest running global survey of its kind – paints a picture of growing global confidence, as nearly two thirds of expats express feeling optimistic about the next 12 months.

For 14 years, HSBC has commissioned Expat Explorer, a comprehensive and in-depth global survey examining the lives of those who relocate abroad. The 2021 survey is our broadest look at expat living to date, with expats from a record-breaking 46 countries and regions sharing their views.

Regardless of the economic challenges and restrictions presented over the past 18 months, most expats are not planning on moving back home at present, thanks to a prevailing sense of optimism about the year ahead.

This edition of Expat Explorer reveals valuable insights into what it's like to live abroad right now.

Future gazing

Most expats are staying put and embracing the community. 4 out of 5 say they will continue to live abroad for at least the next year.

Hope for the future is the main reason for sticking around, and despite the volatility presented by the pandemic, 65% of expats feel optimistic about the year ahead.

Optimism levels are at their highest in Taiwan, with 85% of respondents feeling hopeful. This was closely followed by Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

This sense of optimism, according to the findings in Expat Explorer, is underpinned by the sense of stability within the adopted country. Nearly all expats living in Australia (92%), Switzerland (92%), and Jersey in the Channel Islands (90%) feel optimistic each respective location will be a stable place to live in the next 12 months.

Looking ahead to next year, the top three things expats are hoping to achieve are: getting to know the local area (50%), travelling more (47%), and becoming more familiar with the local culture (47%).

Australia still tops the list for wellness, followed closely by Spain. And 9 in 10 expats in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus and Spain recommend moving there for its quality of life.

Connecting to the wider world

Expat Explorer provides current and prospective expats with trusted insight into living abroad.

Moving to a new place is exciting. As you let go of the familiar, you can discover who you are.

says Cameron Senior, Interim Head of HSBC Expat.

But while living as an expat can enrich the life of the individual who moves abroad, fostering openness between countries benefits all of us. At HSBC, we believe that working together – across borders and cultures – brings new opportunities. So, we design our products and services to support you wherever you 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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