Each year HSBC Expat publishes their aptly-named Expat
Explorer survey. The 2014 edition has just ‘hit the shelves’ and makes for some
fascinating reading as always. Among the rankings presented in the latest
edition are the best places around the world for expats to bring up children.
After almost 10,000 responses to their survey, the results are some of the most
detailed – and fascinating – ever gathered.
When it comes to raising children in a foreign climate,
there are a wide number of factors that the survey takes into consideration.
These include the quality and cost of childcare and schooling, the health and
wellbeing of children and access to better education. All of these various
factors are recorded, then conglomerated into one final overall score in order
to find the best countries.
Based on the recently published 2014 results, New Zealand wins top rankings as the best place for expats to raise children. A high
quality public schooling system offered free, combined with the open and
friendly Kiwi attitude towards foreigners helped it scoop the prize.
Children quickly settle down and make new friends, being
supported in their studies by caring teachers. Parents feel positive about not
just the quality of schooling that their children receive but also the
extra-curricular activities on offer to children.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the second place was won by South
Africa. While South Africa may be known for its safaris and beautiful scenery
is often fares badly in expat surveys due to elements such as high crime rates
and less developed infrastructure than competing countries.
Overall, South Africa ranked 22nd out of 34
countries covered by the survey, so it is interesting to note just how
disproportionate this second place ranking really is. With a 22 place
difference between its overall score and that for bringing up children it’s
clear just how strong South Africa’s performance is in this department.
Ranking third, Germany has been shown time and again to
offer exceptional levels of schooling for all ages and a culture of learning
that encourages children to work hard and to develop their skills through a
well-rounded education system.
Perhaps more surprising than the winners, are just how low
down the charts many major Western nations appear. Canada, for example, ranks a
respectable number eight, though this puts it two places behind India. In
contrast the USA ranks number 29, with the UK barely staying off the bottom of
the list. In this years’ findings, the United Kingdom slipped in at number 32,
out of 34 countries covered.
Surely for such a major player in the expat industry, this
really is a shocking and unforgivable statistic. Sadly, the UK doesn’t just
rank poorly as an expat destination for raising children. The story is very
similar in the other two major categories; namely ‘economics’ and ‘experience’.
It seems clear that if the UK wants to attract the best
expat talent possible then it’s going to have to raise its game markedly before
the 2015 survey.