Published October 09, 2012

HSBC: Singapore has largest proportion of wealthy expats

By zeinab yusuf saiwalla

SINGAPORE is home to the largest proportion of wealthy expatriates of any country and is the choice place to be in the region if expats are seeking to become wealthier, according to HSBC's Expat Explorer survey released yesterday.

More than half (54 per cent) of Singapore-based expats who took part in the survey earn more than US$200,000 in annual income, compared to a global survey average of 7 per cent.

Last year, Singapore was ranked third when it came to expat income, behind Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Following closely behind Singapore in this year's rankings are Bermuda (2nd), Thailand (3rd) and Hong Kong (4th).

The survey also found that 80 per cent of expats here saw an increase in their disposable income since relocating to Singapore.

Around half of the expats surveyed here reported an increase of 50 per cent or more in their disposable income, compared to the global average of 19 per cent.

This trend for increased earnings, however, was not unique to Singapore.

Expats in Hong Kong (79 per cent), Malaysia (72 per cent) and China (69 per cent) also benefited from an increase in disposable income since moving from their home countries.

A large proportion of expats in Singapore moved here for financial rewards (72 per cent) and better job prospects (70 per cent), though 74 per cent were willing to consider moving elsewhere in the future.

The survey also found that Singapore was a desirable place to live among expats, ranking fourth globally, behind the Cayman Islands, Thailand and Spain.

The majority of expats here (76 per cent) are experiencing a better quality of life since relocation, close to half (48 per cent) are enjoying higher standards of accommodation and more than half (57 per cent) are commuting with greater ease.

However, despite the strong financial returns and good quality of life in Singapore, the survey found that expats living here generally found it difficult to integrate into the local community.

Only 19 per cent strongly agreed that they have integrated well with the local community, a trend seen similarly across other cities in Asia.

Twenty five per cent of expats in Malaysia, 14 per cent in Thailand and 11 per cent in Hong Kong, strongly agreed that they had integrated well, all much lower in comparison to many English-speaking countries such as Canada (44 per cent), Australia (43 per cent) and the United Kingdom (41 per cent).

The integration challenge was highlighted when looking at the social activity of expats in these countries, with many expats in Hong Kong (50 per cent), Thailand (48 per cent) and Singapore (41 per cent) in strong agreement that they tend to socialise with other expats rather than locals.

The annual HSBC survey, now in its fifth year, surveyed 5,539 expats from nearly 100 countries worldwide.