Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Majority of expats happy to be living abroad during financial crisis


It might be natural to assume that during a global financial crisis that many, if not most people would prefer to be back in their home country where their connections and resources run deeper. But if course this crisis has hit the so-called “developed” world harder than the developing world, so a new survey reveals that a huge majority of expats are planning on staying on.

According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey only 14% of expats are actively seeking to return home while 63% report being happy to stay abroad. Presumably the remaining 23% are somewhere between planning on leaving and definitely planning on staying.

While the 14% number might even sound a bit high to some people, I’d be surprised if that number weren’t higher at almost any given time in history. Being an expat is challenging even if you are living in a place with better weather and making more money, so I’d think that quite a few expats would always report being unhappy and planning on returning home.

Still better off than home

Reading deeper into the survey results you discover that the majority of expats feel that they are better off financially in their new home compared to their old home. This makes sense because voluntary expats (those who choose to go somewhere on their own) would naturally gravitate towards places where their skills (or pension) will allow them to be better off. And of course involuntary expats (those sent by their current company) have to be compensated for the inconvenience in order for it to be worthwhile.

Better still, with the Eurozone, the UK, and the US all floundering for the past few years, the Middle East and Asia have carried on growing. We’ve discussed how the United Arab Emirates continues to attract job seekers, and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur are doing the same.

Inter-Europe expats might be in limbo

All of the above generally assumes someone who has left Europe or the US for another part of the world, but those who’ve left other parts of Europe to relocate to or retire in Spain are in a different situation. Lately we’ve been hearing about a bit of an exodus from Spain back to the UK.

Southern Spain has long been a very popular expat destination for Brits in particular, so the group who bought-in at the peak of the housing bubble in that country (2006 and 2007) have gotten slaughtered by home values often cut in half or worse, compared to a far milder decline in the UK itself.

Perhaps worse still are those who also set up businesses in Spain, based on the assumption that those new housing communities would all be full of wealthy Brits forever. With many housing complexes remaining empty it seems that people who decided to open bars and other little businesses nearby are getting nervous that they will never get enough customers to even break even.

The situation just goes to show you that nothing can be taken for granted and that we are now living in an era where assumptions have always got to be questioned before making big decisions.


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