8 January 2019

Global study: UK jumps six spots to third best place in the world for career-minded expats

  • UK best country in the world to learn new skills, third best place overall for globetrotting workers, following Germany, and Bahrain
  • Top three reasons why Britons choose expat life: quality of life, better climate, and career progression

New year, new job, new country? A stint abroad could be the key to unlocking a more confident, creative and adaptable you according to HSBC, as it announces the best countries in the world to work abroad. The survey of more than 22,000 expatriates across 163 countries and territories reveals that career ambition is the number one reason why people take the plunge and work abroad.

The best places in the world to work:

Rank The best places to work abroad Change in ranking since 2017
1 Germany +1
2 Bahrain +10
3 UK +6
4 UAE =
5 Switzerland -2
6 Sweden =
7 Singapore -2
8 USA +3
9 Canada +1
10 Hong Kong +3

Expats in the United Kingdom: a melting pot for ambitious minds

Up six places in the rankings, internationally mobile citizens are raving about what working in the UK has to offer for both professional and personal development.

Britain’s foreign workforce is educated and ambitious, and more than two fifths have a postgraduate degree (43% vs. 37% globally). Regardless of their personal circumstances though, the move is usually good for their finances.

According to respondents, the UK is the best country in the world for those who want to learn new skills; indeed, two-thirds of respondents in the UK report that it is easier to acquire new skills in the UK (66%) than in their home country (European average: 59%).

The UK is also the 4th best destination to climb the career ladder, narrowly behind Hong Kong, USA and Singapore, and almost half of the people who move to the UK do so for their career. The average working expat in the UK also sees gains across the board in work/life balance, career progression and earning prospects.

The positive elements of working life in the UK result in a majority of foreign workers (58% vs 49% globally) describing the working culture as better than in their home country.  

Top 10 countries of origin of surveyed expats in the UK:

British expats abroad: career growth meets sunshine

When it comes to UK nationals moving abroad, the top reasons cited include improving their quality of life (41% of expats from the UK vs. 34% European average), looking for a better climate (30% of British expats vs. 15% European average), and progressing their career (24% of British expats vs. 36% European average).

Regardless of their personal circumstances though, the move is usually good for their finances. More than 60% have more disposable income than they did at home and more than half can set more money aside for the future now.

James Hewitson, Head of Wealth & Advice, HSBC UK  commented:

“Global talent has long powered the international melting pot of the UK and that does not appear to be slowing down. According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer research study, the UK is the best country in the world for those who want to learn new skills, and gains across the board in work/life balance, career progression and earning prospects demonstrate why we have such a strong and diverse workforce.

Rank Top 10 destinations for UK expats abroad surveyed:
2 Australia
3 Spain
4 South Africa
5 France
6 United Arab Emirates
7 Hong Kong
8 Thailand
9 New Zealand
10 Canada

“Whether you are taking a calculated risk to secure the job of your dreams or simply craving the warmth of the sun, working abroad can have serious consequences for your finances. Knowing where to keep your savings, how to transfer money and protect against currency fluctuations is vital. Once you have the logistics in order, you can focus on seeking out new experiences, gaining new skills and learning more about your new environment.”

New year career resolutions

Whether you’re looking for self-improvement or just more sunny days, try these destinations to become your best self:

  • Get out of your comfort zone: Working abroad anywhere can make you more adaptable (62% of expats in the UK, and 61% of all expats globally say this) and more confident (62% of expats in the UK, 58% of all expats globally).
  • Be a better leader: Bahrain is the place to go if you want to find your voice as a leader, with 59% of respondents working reporting they have developed their leadership skills.
  • Make new friends: Eager to become a people person? Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines are the most sociable work places in the world.
  • Finish that novel: Head to Brazil, where more than half (57%) of foreign workers say working in Brazil has made them more creative.

Expat Explorer online:

Explore the career rankings: https://www.expatexplorer.hsbc.com/careers
Twitter: @expatexplorer
Facebook: /hsbcexpat
Expats’ ratings of 31 countries are available to explore online through the Expat Explorer interactive tool

Media enquiries to:

Aurora Bonin
(0)7438 850 833
Twitter: @HSBC_UK/@HSBCUKBusiness

For the latest news and updates, visit the HSBC UK newsroom:

Note to editors:

About the Expat Explorer career rankings:
The Expat Explorer survey was open to adults over 18 years old currently living away from their country of origin/home country. The survey was completed by 22,318 expats from 163 countries and territories through an online questionnaire in March and April 2018, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by HSBC Expat. A minimum sample of 100 expat respondents is required for a country to be included in the league tables, with 31 countries qualifying in 2018. 

The career ranking is based on the responses to 8 career-focused questions in the Expat Explorer survey. These are the ability to acquire new skills; the work/life balance; the work culture; job security; career progression; gaining personal fulfilment at work; employee benefits received; and earning prospects.  

About HSBC UK:
HSBC UK serves around 14.5 million customers across the UK, supported by 32,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates.

HSBC UK Bank plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, which is part of the HSBC Group – one of the world’s largest banking and financial services groups with assets of US$2,603bn at 30 September 2018. Linked by advanced technology, the HSBC Group serves customers worldwide from around 3,800 offices in 66 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa

Global study: UK jumps six spots to third best place in the world for career-minded expats (3-page PDF 378 KB)