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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

UAE 10th best place for expats to live: HSBC

Singapore ranks first in global survey

A skyline image of Dubai at sunset. Rustam Azmi / Getty Images
A skyline image of Dubai at sunset. Rustam Azmi / Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has moved up two places to rank as the 10th best country in the world for expatriates, according to HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer survey published Wednesday.

However, it placed last among the 46 ranked countries for the “overall cost of children.”

“Private schooling in the UAE is expensive,” according to the report. “It’s no longer standard practice to include an education allowance in expat employment packages so you’ll need to budget for school fees, along with all the additional costs such as uniforms, textbooks, transport and extracurricular activities.”

YouGov, on behalf of HSBC, surveyed 27,587 expatriates from 159 countries in March and April. There were 987 foreign nationals from the UAE who participated in the survey. A minimum sample 100 respondents and at least 30 parents were required for a country to be included in the league tables.

The respondents were asked online to assess their levels of financial, professional and personal fulfilment in three key areas: economics, experience and family.

In the Expat Explorer league table, the UAE came 10th overall, while ranking 5th for economics, 20th for experience, and 24th for family.

Results of the annual HSBC Expat survey.
Results of the annual HSBC Expat survey.

The report described the UAE as offering expatriates “exceptional quality of life, with modern accommodation and medical facilities, good international school and a highly developed infrastructure.” It said the UAE ranked 5th for safety, 35th for property and 19th for integration.

“There’s plenty to keep you entertained in the lively cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including long beaches, excellent restaurants and famous shopping malls,” according to the report. “All this comes at a price though. The cost of living in the UAE has increased over recent years. And while expat salaries are still high, benefits packages aren’t as comprehensive as they used to be.”

In describing “working in the UAE,” the research found the UAE earned high rankings for disposable income, wage growth and career prospects.

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“Expats living in the United Arab Emirates are rewarded for their hard work,” according to the report, which said expats living in the UAE earn an average annual salary of about $127,000, which is about 27 per cent higher than the global average ($100,000) for expatriate workers who took part in the study. “Indeed, income was a key factor for many in making the decision to move to the UAE. Since 2016, there has been a 10 percentage point uplift in the number of expats who say earnings potential here is better than in their home country. Now ranking fifth for earnings potential, three-quarters (75 per cent) of expats here say they can earn more than they did at home – typically either Europe or South and Central Asia.”

The UAE placed fifth for wage growth, 19th for economic confidence, 6th for entrepreneurship, 9th for career progression, 22nd for work-life balance and 26th for job security.

“With such a high level of satisfaction and low levels of risk, it comes as little surprise that the UAE’s huge appeal for expatriates is not only here to stay, but that an increasing number are keen to set roots down and settle in the country for the longer term,” said Matt Colebrook, Regional Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Mena and Turkey, HSBC Middle East. “As such, it’s also more important than ever that expats begin to plan for the future and ensure they are making the most of their higher earnings, utilising it wisely in terms of investments both in the UAE and back home.”

The survey also showed that 41 per cent of respondents said that one reason they moved to the UAE was to improve their quality of life.

A majority of the respondents, 60 per cent, said they had been in the UAE for more than five years, which is 8 per cent more than the global average. More than half, 55 per cent, said that while living in the UAE, they enjoy a better work-life balance than they did back at home, while 62 per cent claim that their overall quality of life has improved.

“Despite cyclical macroeconomic issues and rising expenses, the fundamentals of the UAE remain strong,” said Mr Colebrook. “We also see that a majority of expats realise that the government has continually worked to enhance the living conditions of those who choose to make this country their home. Nonetheless, we know that moving to a new country can be a daunting experience, and we have invested in helping make this process as smooth as possible for our international customers; in order to allow them to simply pick up where they left off once they move.”

Singapore ranked first overall. New Zealand was listed as the best destination for experience, with 58 per cent of respondents saying they moved there to improve their quality of life.

The Netherlands was tops for family, with 76 per cent of respondents noting the country’s health and wellbeing benefits for children; while 72 per cent cited the Netherlands’ high quality of education. Switzerland came in first for economics, thanks to respondents’ confidence in the local economy and political stability.

Other Mena countries listed among the 46 that qualified to be ranked this year included Bahrain, which placed 13th overall; Oman, 15th; Qatar, 31st; Saudi Arabia, 40th; Kuwait, 42nd; and Egypt, 46th.