Is being an expat good for your family?

Over the last two years HSBC have questionned over 3,100 expats on the opportunities and challenges they face living away from home. The survey and subsequent “Expat Explorer” report series is the largest-ever global survey of expats.

Offshore Offspring is the final report of the three-report series and focuses on expats’ experiences when bringing up children abroad.  The result is a league table detailing which locations expats voted as the places with the best opportunities and experiences for their children.

Expats rated childcare, education, ease of integration, costs of raising children, time spent outside, and time spent taking part in outdoor activities. In addition, they also rated the relative ease in which they were able to organise education/schooling, make new friends, experience new cultures and create healthier lifestyles.

The report looks at six countries – the UK, USA, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.



  • 37% of expats have experienced an increase in the quality of family life since moving abroad.
  • Of the top six countries, Australia had the largest proportion of expat parents (55%) who reported an improvement in the quality of family life compared with where they used to live.
  • Some expats reported that moving to the UK can have a negative effect on their family life – 45% reported a decline in quality compared with only 16% who reported an improvement.
  • One in three of the expats surveyed (31%) have dependent children (children under the age of 18) living with them abroad in a total of 26 different countries around the world.
  • Of the top six countries (UAE, US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia), expats in Singapore are the most likely to have children who currently live with them (46%), while just a quarter (24%) of expats in the UK have dependent children.



  • Australia crowned healthiest country for raising children – Expats living in Australia feel the country provides the best environment for healthy and active children. For example, parents report that these children are the most likely to spend more time outdoors than in their previous country.
  • Expat kids integrate well Down Under – Expat parents see their children adapt well to most of the changes brought about by moving to a foreign country. For example, on average 48% of expat kids adapt very well to a new culture, 50% make new friends easily, and 49% adapt to new schooling very well.  Australia ranks first in terms of expat children finding it easier to make new friends and adapt to the schooling system than they did in their home country (83% and 76% respectively). Over half of respondents in Australia (56%) said that their children had adapted to the new culture “really well”. Looking at the overall social integration of their children, almost two-thirds (63%) of expats in Australia said that this had increased when compared with their home country.
  • Safety and childcare first in Singapore – Singapore ranks first in terms of children’s safety improving since moving to the country, and is the place that also offers children the highest quality of education and childcare compared with where they used to live. Parents living in Singapore felt that they had moved to a safer and more childcare-friendly place for their children – some 93% said they felt safer than in their previous country of residence, as opposed to 64% globally. Of all the countries, expats in the UK are the most likely to feel their children’s safety has decreased.
  • Schooling worries in the UK – The UK poses the greatest challenges in terms of organising school for children. Over half of respondents (56%) said organising schools was difficult, making it the toughest country to sort out education. Overall, a large proportion of expat parents in the UK reported a decrease in education standards in comparison to their home country. Despite this, expats in the UK are among the least likely to pay for private education for their children – with just 15% paying for their child’s education.
  • Expat children cost more in UK and UAE – Raising children in the UK is the most expensive with expats in the UAE also likely to experience rising costs in this area. That’s not surprising, considering expats in both these countries state that their cost of living in general has increased significantly from their previous country of residence. In fact, the UK was rated as one of the most expensive places in the world to live in the Expat Economics report.
  • Overall league table – When all of the rankings were added up Australia was ranked the best place to bring up a family, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, USA and UK.

To read the full report and league tables click here.

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