Election Results Got You Thinking of Living Abroad? Here are Top 5 Destinations for Expats

Our country has been disrupted, to say the least. Whether you’re feeling crippled by despair or just plain done with the debacle that is American politics, you might be contemplating a move abroad.

If so, you’re not alone. On election night, Canada's immigration site was "temporarily inaccessible to users as a result of a significant increase in the volume of traffic.” Apparently, celebrities weren’t the only ones making plans to relocate.

So which countries offer the highest quality of life in terms of economics, experience, and family? Below are the top five recommendations, based on HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2016.


1. Singapore

One of cleanest and safest multicultural hubs in the world, this city-state tops the list as the best place for expats for the second year in a row. It’s particularly attractive for immigrants seeking a new challenge, improved earnings, or better quality of life.

With a population of over 5 million, this booming metropolis is a major trading nation with an emphasis on modern lifestyles and well-planned infrastructure. Despite its relatively high cost of living, many expats report they have more disposable income than they had back home.

The housing market in Singapore is divided into public and private sectors. Public housing isn’t associated with lower income groups and even includes luxury options. High-earning Westerners usually choose to rent a private apartment or condo.


2. New Zealand

New Zealand, or Aotearoa in Maori, meaning “the land of the long white cloud,” is small in land mass but huge in natural beauty. It appeals to adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts looking for a more balanced lifestyle.

Apart from adjusting to the potential feeling of isolation, acclimating to life in New Zealand may present fewer challenges for expats. For starters, there is no language barrier and Kiwis are known for being avid world travelers who are welcoming to foreigners.

As expected, property costs more in New Zealand’s cities than in smaller towns and rural areas. Auckland is the most expensive place to buy or rent. Most expats choose to rent first and, if they decide to stay long term, they eventually go on to buy.


3. Canada

As Washingtonians, it’s convenient the third best place for expats happens to be our friendly northern neighbor. It boasts a strong economy, breathtaking landscape, and an enviable social security system.

The entry process for immigrants can be strict, but for skilled expats Canada has an express entry program. It is based on a point system in which points are awarded based on skills, education, number of languages spoken, and job viability. Enough points and you are invited to apply for residency.

Canada emerges as one of the world’s best destinations for expats to access property ownership. Almost three quarters (74%) of expats in Canada say they own a property in their new country (compared with Canada the global average of 32%) while only 19% say they own property in their home country (compared with the global average of 41%).


4. Czech Republic

While it has only existed as an independent country since 1993, the Czech Republic is fast becoming a popular destination for expats. Perhaps by way of its old world charm, the cosmopolitan capital of Prague is luring highly skilled workers and growing its force as one of Central Europe’s most industrialized economies.

In terms of quality of life, the country’s infrastructure is high and the quality of healthcare is improving. Newcomers report plenty of schooling options and while the price tag for international schools can be high, overall the costs of raising children ranks very favorable.

Most expats are property renters in the Czech Republic, because there are some restrictions on foreigners buying property. If you are looking to buy property, it’s best you engage an estate agent if you don’t speak Czech.


5. Switzerland

With its reputation for excellent living standards and a relatively stable economy, Switzerland justifies its position in the top five. It’s a country synonymous with trade, finance and the finer things in life.

Diversity is one of the first things you’ll notice when moving to Switzerland. The country has four main language groups all with their unique culture and traditions. But prepared to work a little at getting to know the locals. Some expats report that developing friendships with the Swiss, who can appear reserved, can take time.

Housing in Switzerland tends to be efficient and modern, however space is limited. For expats used to the sprawling family homes so common in the states, that might mean significant downsizing and coming to terms with compact apartment living.

ImmigrationHilary Long