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Where best to be an expat?

 Money is not everything but it is the main determinate of the relative economic value of countries for expatriates. An interesting new study commissioned by HSBC from Expat Explorer looks at an expat’s economic quality of life and the Gulf States figure highly.

Twenty-six countries now feature in the ranking table (compared with 12 last year), with Russia (1st place) scoring highly as a result of the number of expats saving more, high annual salaries and the amount of disposable income available.

Gulf expats

Qatar (2nd place), Saudi Arabia (3rd place) and UAE (5th place) also scored highly in the areas of increased savings and disposable income, however had their scores affected by lower annual salaries. Hong Kong ranked at 4th place.

In the UAE over two-thirds of expats in the UAE stated that their attitudes to spending had changed as a result of the economic crisis, although over three-quarters of UAE expats living said that they had not considered a move home.

However, economics is only ever half the story as far as life-style is concerned. Living in Saudi Arabia, for example, is not a popular option for many Western expatriates with its restrictions on personal freedoms and recent violent unrest.

Then again language restrictions mean that Russia is not a viable option for many expats. But the general message is that if you want to earn more money then head East and not West.

Asia best option

Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world, with one in four expats earning more than $200,000 per year. Individually, the survey identified Russia, Japan, Qatar and the UAE are among the top countries for the wealthiest expats, defined as an annual income in excess of $200,000 and a monthly disposable income in excess of $3,000.

UAE expats also claim to have a marked improvement in possessing luxury items – 62 per cent of respondents said that they employed at least one member of staff and 55 per cent own more than one car.

Belgium and Australia are home to the least wealthy expats, with almost two-thirds of expats in Belgium and Australia stating that their annual salary was $100,000 or less.