Financial gains top expat priorities in Saudi
Manama, January 22, 2012
Twenty-eight per cent of the expats in Saudi Arabia rated financial wealth and financial security as the top benefit of being an expatriate in a major survey.
Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Egypt top this year’s league table of Expat Economics, the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2011, which focuses on how the economic situation differs for expats from country to country.
Expats in Singapore felt that personal development (27 per cent) and a better quality of life (17 per cent) were more important than the financial aspects of their move, said the survey.
Expats in these countries work predominantly in the banking or financial sector (36 per cent, 35 per cent and 33 per cent) and cited career prospects as one of the key drivers for their relocation (85 per cent, 62 per cent, 57 per cent).
When asked about the top benefit of being an expat, financial wealth and financial security (28 per cent for both) were rated highest by those in Saudi Arabia, while expats in Singapore felt that personal development and a better quality of life (27 per cent, 17 per cent) were more important than the financial aspects of their move.
This trend is mirrored in Egypt with expats most likely to cite personal development as their top benefit of relocation (33 per cent) with financial wealth second (23 per cent) and financial security a close third (17 per cent).
Expats' perception of the economy in their country of residence varies across the top three countries in the Expat Economics league table. 68 per cent of expats in Saudi Arabia believe their economy to be very strong and nearly half believe that it will continue to improve over the coming year (49 per cent).
Only 6 per cent of expats here think the economy is weak or has deteriorated, and within this group only 33 per cent are considering relocating. The story is similar in Singapore where 68 per cent of expats believe that their economy is strong and 64 per cent feel that it has improved in the past year.
Again only 6 per cent of expats believe the economy is weak or has deteriorated and within this only 29 per cent are actively looking to relocate.
Conversely, three quarters of expats in Egypt feel that their economy is weak (77 per cent) and 47 per cent feel it will continue to deteriorate in the coming year. This perception has had an impact on expats' desire to remain in the Egypt: while only 20 per cent of those who think the economy is weak or has deteriorated state that they are actively looking to relocate, a further 33 per cent are considering moving.
Expats are divided on whether their work/life balance is better since relocating. Overall, just under half (48 per cent) agree that their work/life balance has improved and just under a third (30 per cent) say it hasn't.
Additionally, perceptions on work/life balance vary depending on expats' income: expats earning over $200 are less likely (39 per cent) to say that this aspect of their life has improved than those earning $200k or less (45 per cent).
The main luxuries that expats in these countries benefit from compared to their home country are: domestic staff, swimming pools, owning their property or owning more than one property; although expats in these countries are less likely to go on more luxurious holidays (37 per cent, 45 per cent and 53 per cent respectively) compared to expats overall (50 per cent).
Countries which provide expats with the greatest benefits in terms of salary and economic rewards don't always provide the best quality of life for children and families.
Those countries that provide the greatest benefits in terms of overall wealth, disposable income and luxuries are often those in which it is hardest for families to bed down and integrate, and in which childcare and general standards of health and well-being are perceived to be poorer.
Expats in the majority of countries affected by the unrest in the Middle East or the Eurozone crisis unsurprisingly report seeing deterioration in the political, social and economic climate of the country they live in. Despite this, there is a divide between those who wish to relocate and those who want to stay in their country of residence.
Expats in Egypt (100 per cent), Spain (97 per cent), Bahrain (94 per cent) and Italy (88 per cent) all say that the economic situation is weak or has deteriorated. However of those who say this, those in Bahrain and Egypt are much more likely to be actively looking to or considering relocating (57 per cent and 53 per cent respectively).
Those based in Bahrain and Egypt are more likely to have become expats for career/money prospects (75 per cent and 57 per cent respectively) compared to those in Italy and Spain (22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively).
In addition, despite more than half of expats in Bahrain and Egypt looking to relocate back home, the two countries find themselves in the top half of the Expat Economics league table ranked 10th and 2nd respectively.
This suggests that despite expats in many cases being downturn defiant, the financial advantages of living and working in the region are mitigated by the ongoing social and political unrest, the survey said.
When expats were asked what their ideal expat destination would be, the most popular answers were Australia (10 per cent), the US (10 per cent) and Singapore (9 per cent), followed by Hong Kong (7 per cent), Canada (7 per cent), and the UK (5 per cent).
The 2011 Expat Experience results show that while most expats do not live in one country for lengthy periods of time, a good quality of life inevitably is crucial in inciting expats to stay in the country for longer.
While the average expat has spent five years living in their host country, quality of life seems to impact the length of time expats spend in their new home.
Expats in countries which rank highly on the Expat Experience league table are more likely to have lived there for 10 years or more, and are more likely to say they will remain in that country or will return after subsequent postings.
In contrast, Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar typically score quite low on the Expat Experience league table (ranking 26th, 21st and 28th respectively). Expats based in these countries are much less likely to have lived in the country for more than ten years, and are unlikely to settle there permanently (4 per cent, 2 per cent and 5 per cent). – TradeArabia News Service