Singapore has a reputation for being tough on its residents, whether it’s for chewing gum, jaywalking or drugs. But if you’re offered a job there, you might want to consider it very seriously.
If you can withstand the scorching summers and drenching humidity, you can have a life that is far more luxurious than the one you currently enjoy at home, including everything from a nanny for your children to a swanky central accommodation complete with a swimming pool.
Behind the Numbers
The rankings are based on a study by HSBC Bank International, which surveyed 2,155 expats around the world. The responses were used to determine each country’s ranking according to several criteria, including the duration the respondents stayed; their ability to command high earnings and save; having a more luxurious life than back home; and, of course, decent accommodation that didn’t eat up all their earnings.
That’s one reason the U.K., where much of the expat population is concentrated in and around London, comes in at the very bottom of the list. London, the world’s third most expensive city according to Mercer Consulting, takes its toll on even the highest-paid executives: A luxurious two-bedroom apartment will cost you $4,907 a month on average–before you’ve even furnished it.
The UAE, with no income tax, perhaps unsurprisingly does very well when it comes to saving and freeing you up to enjoy its swanky hotels and shopping centers–all reasons why it’s the best place for luxurious living, according to the survey.
Save In South Asia
However, when it comes to saving the pennies, there’s no place like India. The low cost of labor, private health care and dining out all compensate for accommodations, which can be extraordinarily pricey, but below the standards found in other top expatriate destinations.
In the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, affordable luxurious accommodations mean long, traffic-clogged commutes, while blackouts are a routine occurrence, as electrical power capacity is estimated about 20% below what the country actually requires.Despite the frustrations, however, India scores highly when it comes to salaries.
“We were surprised by earnings in India. The huge demand for human capital and people with experience in management, financial services and the IT (information technology) sector means that expats have been able to demand increasingly higher salaries,” says Aaron Le Cornu, deputy chief executive of HSBC Bank International.
Hong Kong attracts the biggest earners, with almost half of expats earning more than 200,000 U.S. dollars a year. That reflects the large number of expats who work in finance and management, according to Cornu.
Despite the luxurious lifestyle on offer for expats in countries such as India and the UAE, these countries don’t keep their foreign visitors for long periods of time. Instead it is Europe and the United States–where expats are often posted to global corporate headquarters–that score best.
Over 80% of those posted to the Netherlands, for example–home to the corporate headquarters of companies such as Royal Dutch Shell –spend at least three years in the country.
Overall, it’s good news for those who get the opportunity to be posted abroad. More than half of expatriates are not only able to invest and save more, they can also spend more on shopping and socializing while abroad.
The global expat population has continued to boom–according to the World Bank’s Global Links Report 2007, the number of people living outside their home country has more than doubled since 1980 to 190 million–despite the weakening global economic climate, with companies continuing to bear the higher costs of foreign postings.
“As the world becomes increasingly globalized, companies want their managers to get a diversity of experience across the world, while employees want an opportunity to experience a lifestyle and culture different [from]their own,” says Cornu.
“Particularly in financial hot spots, there is the potential to earn more and have a better quality of life.”