Singapore loses out to Switzerland as top expat destination after 4 years

Singapore has been longstanding as the top favourite destination among expats since 2015, but Switzerland has taken the top spot in 2019. According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey, about 82% of expats in Switzerland have voted on the improvement in quality life compared to their home country, with many citing the country’s scenery a major contributing factor.

Expats also praised Switzerland’s low levels of pollution, with 70% noting cleaner and “more pleasant” surroundings than they were used to at home. The percentage beat the global average of only 40% of expats saying the same. In addition, Switzerland is also renowned for its low crime rates and safe streets, with two-thirds (67%) of expats feeling more secure than in their home country.

Another contributing factor include higher levels of disposable income, which are reported by 71% of expats, resulting in an average expat salary of SG$111,587, well above the global mean of SG$75,966. In terms of political and economic stability, only 20% in Switzerland have any such reservations, and 86% are relaxed about the country’s political status.

Despite taking the second place in the table this year, Singapore still reigns the “best destination” in the world for expats with children. Over two-thirds (69%) of expats laud their children’s ability to learn languages here in Singapore, while 62% say the country’s education system is better than in their home country. Moreover, Singapore is also the only Asian city in the top 10 list.

The nation, lovingly nicknamed “the little red dot”, identity is built on its multiculturalism and the “Singapore Spirit” has a significant impact on new arrivals, said the report. Expats here not only rave about the high standard of living but the many lifestyle and food options available. With goods and services flowing in and out of Singapore, the country is one of Asia’s key trade hubs and a major contributor to the thriving regional economy. Experienced expats are sought for their knowledge and expertise and are rewarded with salary increases and promotions, the report found.


Taking the third place is Canada, where expats make the most of an increased quality of life and a lower cost of living. According to the report, 40% of those with more disposable income in their new country have reduced expenses, compared to a 26% global average. Also boasting an “excellent” quality of life is Spain, which has rocketed up 10 places this year to fourth. The majority (58%) of expats see an improvement in their mental wellbeing there, compared to just a third (35%) globally. Rounding out the top five is New Zealand, another destination for expats after a more accommodating work-life balance – 69% note an improvement there compared to their home country.

Moving away from expat living, the HSBC report also broke down the countries Millennials flock to. Hong Kong is particularly popular, with 51% of young people moving over to challenge themselves, seeing their income increase on average by 41%. The American Dream is also proving difficult to ignore – two-thirds (66%) of young expats move to the US to progress their career and more than half claim to enjoy a higher quality of life while doing so. While in the UK, 59% of young expats are more confident at work and a third (36%) can network more effectively. Amongst Millennials, Poland also fares well with over half (56%) of expats moving there to accelerate their career and two-thirds (67%) saying they have a much-improved work-life balance.

The 2019 Expat Explorer survey is a global survey completed by 18,059 expats across the world. The research was conducted online by YouGov in March and April 2019.