expat workers

The average person taking a job overseas adds a life-changing $21,000 to their annual salary when they move; that is enough to buy a new car, pay off the average household’s debt twice over, or cover rent for two years , according to new research from HSBC.

The 11th annual Expat Explorer survey from the world’s leading international bank reveals that savvy workers are shopping around to get the most value out of their skill set, with 45 per cent receiving more money for doing exactly the same work abroad and 28 per cent moving for a promotion.

Switzerland tops the list of destinations for the biggest pay packets, with the average salary increase coming in at a whopping $61,000 to make the average annual expat salary the highest in the world at $202,865. The USA takes second place at $185,119, with Hong Kong in third at $178,706. China’s booming economy has seen the average salary jump from $134,093 in 2016 to $172,678 this year. With international businesses eager to appeal to Chinese consumers, there are big rewards up for grabs for hard-working expats.

Territory Average annual expat salary:

1. Switzerland $202,865
2. USA $185,119
3. Hong Kong $178,706
4. China $172,678
5. Singapore $162,172
6. United Arab Emirates $155,039
7. India $131,759
8. Indonesia $127,980
9. Japan $127,362
10. Australia $125,803

People looking to move overseas all have different priorities when it comes to finding a new job. The following countries ranked the highest amongst respondents for the varying work cultures they offer:

Top for creative talent: Sweden and Brazil came top of the class for offering a creative work environment. The Swedish lagom mentality (which translates as “just the right amount”) encourages a flat, relaxed working structure which expats claim is the most collaborative and technologically sophisticated worldwide. Meanwhile, workers won’t find themselves wolfing down a sandwich at their desks in Brazil – long lunches away from the office with clients and colleagues are the norm. In addition to being one of the most creative workplaces around, expats say Brazil has the most sociable and one of the happiest work environments in the world.

Best career progression: Home to two of the biggest financial centres in the world, the UK and USA were voted the best places to get ahead in your career. In addition, expats in the UK are most likely to pick up new skills while abroad. Meanwhile, the offer of a generous above average expat salary of $185,119 is certain to lure those chasing the cash. It seems there is no gain without pain however, and while British and American workplaces are the most likely to stretch expats intellectually, more than two fifths of those setting up a new life here find the fast-paced working cultures stressful.

• Happiest places to live: Just over half (53 per cent) of expats in Thailand say the working culture has made them happier, more than anywhere in the world. People moving to work in this exotic idyll are the least stressed and most fulfilled in the world. Meanwhile, those being worn down by a long journey to work should consider New Zealand or Bahrain – international workers in both countries are most likely (60 per cent) to cite a shorter commuting than at home.

John Goddard, Head of HSBC Expat, comments,

A taste of life in a new location can be the key to unlocking your creative potential, finding the work/life balance you’ve been craving, or taking your career in a new direction.

However, too many expats spend their first months abroad stressed because they didn’t get their finances in order before moving. While a move overseas can often mean a rise in disposable income it also brings complexity. Seeking advice before you move to set up a bank account in your new destination, finding the best way to transfer money internationally and making the most of any additional savings can help you focus on your career and settle more quickly in your new home.”






Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

Aphrodite has had a variety of high profile industry clients as a freelancer, and previously worked for a number of years as an Editor and Journalist for Prospects.ac.uk.

Aphrodite is also a professional painter.