A survey of over 5,000 expats has found that Singapore is home to the largest proportion of wealthy expats.
As part of its annual ‘Expat Explorer’ survey, HSBC Expat ranked nearly 100 countries on the financial health of foreigners living there, considering such factors as the average expat’s salary, disposable income and ability to buy luxuries.
Singapore topped the table, while four other Asian locations – Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam – also appeared in the top 10.
In Singapore, more than half (54 per cent) of surveyed expats said they earned more than $200,000 (GBP 125,000) a year, compared with a global survey average of just seven per cent.
The majority of expats in Asia said they had experienced an increase in disposable income since relocating, particularly in Singapore (80 per cent), Hong Kong (79 per cent) and Malaysia (72 per cent).
The dominance of Asia in this year’s report contrasts previous years, where the Middle East boasted the most affluent expats. In the 2011 survey, Saudi Arabia occupied the top spot in the economics league table, with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain also featuring in the top 10.
This year, the only country in the Middle East to appear in the top 10 was Bahrain, with Saudi Arabia falling to 18th place.
Paul Richardson, senior regional manager for HSBC Expat Asia, said: “We’re still seeing a lot of economic growth in the Middle East, but Asia does seem to be stronger. Businesses are looking further East for opportunities, especially [to] Singapore and Hong Kong, which remain the region’s most dynamic economic hubs.”
HSBC said that the high ranking of Singapore and Vietnam in this year’s survey suggested that south-east Asia in particular is coming to the fore as a region where expats can boost their earnings potential
A number of south-east Asian nations are experiencing rapid economic growth. Countries such as Indonesia, which weathered the world financial crisis relatively successfully, are particularly benefiting from trade with and investment from China, the world’s second biggest economy.
Briton Anna Power, a former lawyer now living in Bangkok, Thailand, said that she and her partner had enjoyed much better financial health since moving to south-east Asia.
“We definitely have a better quality of financial life, to the extent that we can afford for me not to work,” she said. “The salaries, if you are sent here as an expat worker as my boyfriend has been, are high, and the basics are cheaper than the UK.
“We pay about GBP 1,600 a month for a three bedroom, three-bathroom apartment with a pool, gym and 24-hour security, and I don’t think we’ve ever paid more than GBP 4 a month for a water bill. Eating and travel are also cheap – a 20-minute taxi ride costs me about GBP 1.20, and good quality street food is rarely more than a pound.”