Friday, November 27, 2009

The HSBC Expat Survey

Mouse WorldThe 2009 edition of the HSBC Expat Experience Survey is out, you can get the free download here.  It makes for fascinating reading if you live overseas, if only to compare your experiences with those of others worldwide.

The Netherlands placed 17th overall out of 26 countries surveyed.  (Last year the Dutch placed 8th out of 14 countries on a much more limited survey, so, even though they’ve slipped in percentage terms, the results may not be comparable.)  Respondents say that the working hours and transportation are excellent, while it’s harder to than elsewhere to learn the language and to make friends.  In fact, the survey ranks the Netherlands as the second least friendly place for expats to live, ahead of only Belgium.

Some of the results are hard to fathom: Dutch is harder to learn than Japanese, for example, or that finding good healthcare is as difficult as it is in China. 

I wonder about the mix of nationalities responding to the survey: I suspect that if people are used to settling food shopping, accommodations, and school in particular ways, then they you will favor countries with similar cultural organization.

The overall pro’s and con’s of the expatriate experience also ring true, although the financial and career advantages disappear quickly once you leave the corporate umbrella !

The benefits of being an expat:

  • Financial benefits (including tax breaks, ability to save, expat packages): 32%
  • Better quality of life (including lifestyle, work/life balance and greater freedom): 25%
  • Cultural opportunities (including food, language, new experiences): 19%
  • Career development (including gaining international experience, better prospects, greater job security): 17%
  • Travel (including adventure): 14%

Overall challenges of being an expat:

  • Missing family, friends, looking after elderly relatives, keeping in touch, loneliness: 23%
  • Language barriers/Poor communication: 18%
  • Adapting to culture: 16%
  • Re-establishing a social life, being accepted into the community, making friends: 12%
  • Loss of identity, lack of stability, constantly being a foreigner: 10%

My appreciation to HSBC for creating another thought-provoking report.

Disclaimer: While I do have accounts with HSBC, they have not directed or influenced this blog comment.


Textual Healer said...

The results of that survey rang pretty true - both the benefits / stresses of being an ex-pat and the specific experiences of expats in the NL. It also reminded that poor (and expensive) housing and a bad quality of life were two of the major 'push' factors when it came to thinking about leaving the UK.

Dave Hampton said...

I noticed that too: it's given me something to think about as I need to find short-term housing in East Anglia. I just returned from three days around London and the weather was another fator: as bad as I've ever seen it there.