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Where Do Expats Enjoy The Most Disposable Income?

WealthWhy would anyone agree to move half way round the world for work, leaving behind friends and family (not to mention the glorious British weather)?

For some of us, global moves represent exciting new opportunities to grow and develop in our career of choice.

For others the change of scenery in itself can be enough to tempt us to exotic foreign climes.

And then of course there’s the money.

The reality is that many expats find themselves being handsomely compensated for the life-changing decision to up-sticks and move across the globe for work.

Even a few years working abroad for the right employer can help to create a useful nest egg that can make dreams come true in the future; whether that’s buying a second home, retiring early or buying that classic sports car you’ve always dreamed of.

In today’s global economy, rife with currency fluctuations and interest rate changes, however, things don’t always work out as planned. For every expat carefully stashing money away each month thanks to their hard work, someone else on the other side of the world is finding the markets moving against them.

Just recently, for example, we reported that many expats are actually leaving the UAE thanks to rapidly increasing living expenses. Others are finding their income shrinking as their currency of choice diminishes in value.

These days if you are to live as comfortably as possible in your adopted country – and to build up impressive savings for the future – you need to be living somewhere that offers a generous disposable income. But where exactly do such mythical differences between salaries and living expenses really exist?

Thanks to HSBC’s recent research we can begin to draw some accurate conclusions about exactly which countries provide expat workers with the greatest levels of disposable income.

It should come as no surprise that the Middle East offers plenty of opportunities in this regard. While the UAE may sit outside the top ten results many of their esteemed fellow Gulf Council members sit comfortably in the top ten for disposable income.

Coming top in this year’s survey comes Qatar, closely followed by Oman in second place and Bahrain in third. This is hardly surprising in such a wealthy part of the world where personal income tax is virtually unheard of.

Indeed if it weren’t for the costs of property it seems highly likely that the United Arab Emirates would also rank more highly.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also rank within the top ten countries for disposable income among expats, but what about the less predictable countries which make up the remainder of the top ten? For starters there’s China at position four. Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland – all known as expensive destinations – also make appearances.

However it is the number six position which may provide the greatest surprise. Any guesses?

If HSBC’s extensive annual expat survey is to be believed the country offering the sixth highest level of disposable income to expats is actually Vietnam; though whether this is a result of high salaries or low living expenses isn’t clear.

Indeed while Vietnam may only rank 25th in the overall survey results its presence in the top countries for disposable income isn’t unique. This South East Asian gem also ranks highly for the ease with which one can save money, the value-for-money seen in the real estate market and the “softer” categories. For example expats rate Vietnam highly for the social life and ease of making friends and the overall culture.

So while Vietnam may need to make some improvements to rival the top players on the world stage if it wants to attract the best possible talent (healthcare is a notable weakness) this fascinating country seems to have much to offer expats.

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