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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Expat survey: the best country that's not home 
28th-Jan-2010 12:37 pm

If you're going to be an expatriate, what's the best country to live in? Canada — especially for its high quality of family life, ease of integration, and a good environment for children.

That's according to the most recent global survey of expats, Expat Experience, by HSBC Bank International. Australia came in 2nd, and Thailand 3rd.

The US came in 8th. Expats said getting healthcare and organizing finances were particularly difficult — but we already knew the healthcare and banking systems desperately need reform.

I live in Spain, which came in 9th, and would have ranked higher except that Spain speaks Spanish. The international community prefers English. But expats ranked it the healthiest place to live. Of course: lots of olive oil, red wine, sun, and siestas.

Of the 26 countries in the survey, the four worst were United Kingdom at 23rd, Russian Federation 24th, India 25th, and Qatar 26th.

Overall, survey respondents said the benefits of being an expat were financial rewards, improved quality of life, cultural opportunities, career development, and travel. The regrets were missing family and friends, language barriers, adapting to the culture, establishing a social life, and "constantly being a foreigner."

You can get the whole report and more information about expat life (and a lot of encouragement to make HSBC your bank) at:

— Sue Burke

28th-Jan-2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
We just visited Canada this year and it was really wonderful. I can see why people would like it. Though, of course, we were there in the summer. Not sure how we would have felt after weathering a winter. ;-)

An interesting thought brought up by this report you mentioned is the difference between a country that is pleasant to live in and one that is easy to move to. I can imagine some countries could be great for natives but hard on immigrants...and possibly visa versa.

It would also be interesting to see the countries ranked within language groups. I bet Spain would have come out higher if the people being pooled were the very large group of Spanish speakers living elsewhere than their original homes.
29th-Jan-2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, you make some good points. Although the report doesn't say so, I think the people polled tend to be business executives, so this may account for the preference for English. Spain does get many immigrants from Latin America, but they tend to be poor (and often illegal), so they wouldn't be the target market for the bank, but they do appreciate being able to speak Spanish.
30th-Jan-2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
It occurs to me that you must be the person who posted the note about an object--was it a chair or a shopping cart?--that said "made in the world" or something like that. I read that post in China and was so amused by it.

What is Spain like? I realized that I knew almost nothing about modern Spain when we ran into a group of 50 couples from Spain who were adopting in China. They were delightful, but afterward, it occurred to me that all my mental images of Spain are long out of date.
31st-Jan-2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
Well, Spain is fully in the 21st century: traffic jams, Internet, digital TV, and even more mobile phones than in the US. However, there's 18% unemployment right now. The economy here crashed at the same time as the US mostly due to real estate speculation but also pulled down by the economic problems in the rest of the world.

At the same time as it has modernized, Spain has been able to keep its history intact. There are several words for "old-fashioned" here, and some of them are compliments. In addition to a love of history, there's also a love of art. Tourism is a big business here, and foreign tourists are genuinely welcomed because they help pay for the historic sites and fun activities that Spaniards themselves enjoy. in fact, Spaniards are their own best tourists.

Families are close and important, and young people here seem less conflicted than US teens. Even here in Madrid, many people return for vacations to the small towns where their grandparents came from so that the whole extended family can spend time together, and they consider that little town their real home town.

Oh, and yes, that was my cart.
1st-Feb-2010 02:48 am (UTC)
How Lovely. Spain is one of the few European countries I have never had the pleasure of visiting. I wonder if I will ever get to see it.
29th-Jan-2010 09:47 am (UTC) - Expat survey
Hi Sue! Thanks so much for taking the time to review our survey and we're glad that you found the results of interest. Your blog tells an interesting story of expat life and we were wondering if you would be interested in being a guest writer on our blog (expatexplorer.blogspot.com) to tell us about some of your experiences?

Are you also on Twitter? Would be great to follow you and have you follow us if so. We are looking at launching the 2010 survey very soon and would love to have you take part!
29th-Jan-2010 05:34 pm (UTC) - Re: Expat survey
Sure, I'd be interested in a guest blog, and although I don't use Twitter, I can follow the Expat Explorer site by Internet through Google Friends.

How can we get in touch to discuss the details?

2nd-Feb-2010 02:03 pm (UTC) - Re: Expat survey
That's great news! Did you want to drop us an email at expatexplorer@gmail.com and we can discuss all of the details there?

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