Expats vote Vietnam among best countries to live and work

November 12, 2018 | 09:35
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Expats working in Vietnam are currently enjoying over $90,000 in average annual income, with the country scoring in the 19th place for best countries to live and work and the first place when it comes to saving more and having more disposable income.

HSBC’s 11th annual Expat Explorer survey reveals that expats in Vietnam annually earn $90,408 on average, with 31 per cent seeing an income rise of 25 per cent and above. Vietnam, accordingly, ranks in the first place in the world with nearly three quarters (72 per cent) saying moving to Vietnam helped them save more, while 72 per cent also agree that they have more disposable income than they did in their home country. Both proportions are higher than the global average (52 per cent for savings and 56 per cent for disposable income).

The survey was conducted in the form of an online questionnaire, with the participation of 22,318 expats from 163 countries and territories.

expats vote vietnam among best countries to live and work
expats vote vietnam among best countries to live and work

The most popular purpose of their saving or investment is still retirement (43 per cent), followed by buying the first/next property (30 per cent). Nevertheless, when it comes to property ownership, one-fourth (26 per cent) of expats own property in Vietnam, while the global average is 36 per cent.

Expats experience other material benefits by moving abroad. More than half (55 per cent) of expats in Vietnam say they take more holidays, many also live in a better property (41 per cent), have more household staff (39 per cent), and spend more on their children’s education (16 per cent).

According to the HSBC report, by taking a job overseas, an expat will add on average $21,000 to their annual salary – enough to buy a new car, pay off the average household’s debt twice over, or cover rent for two years.

The top three reasons for expats opting for Vietnam included finding a new challenge, career promotion, and improving quality of life. With these aspirations in mind, almost half (47 per cent) agree that Vietnam is a good place for expats who want to progress their career, while expats in the Hong Kong and the US are most likely to agree, with 72 and 71 per cent saying they are good places to progress their careers, and higher than the global average (56 per cent).

Expat employment also comes with several perks. A vast majority (54 per cent) of expats in Vietnam receive benefits as part of their employment contract with 73 per cent receiving health and medical allowances, 57 per cent an annual trip home or airfare allowance, and 42 per cent accommodation allowance compared to the global average of 43 per cent, 17 per cent, and 18 per cent, in respective order. Although the average income for an expat in Vietnam is $90,000, fewer expats have financial concerns than expats globally, thanks partly to a reasonable cost of living and good allowances.

“This year, findings from the Expat Explorer survey show that Vietnam is a promising host country for expats who are seeking both opportunities and challenges to boost and develop their careers. We expect Vietnam to improve in several areas to enhance the experience of expats and their families by developing further the environment, educational programmes, and financial services,” says Sabbir Ahmed, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Vietnam.

However, there may be clouds in the expat sky. Globally, although 50 per cent feel confident about the local economy, nearly one third are concerned that economic uncertainty (24 per cent) and political uncertainty (29 per cent) in the host country may affect their financial well-being. The picture, meanwhile, is slightly different in Vietnam. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of expats say they feel confident about the Vietnamese economy. In regard to their financial wellbeing, the issues that most concern them are a) more restrictions on moving their money across countries (37 per cent), b) global economic uncertainty (24 per cent) and c) less favourable exchange rate (22 per cent), and d) less job security for expats and their partner (22 per cent) in Vietnam.

The best places to live and work as an expat

Change from 2017

The best places to live and work as an expat

Change from 2017

1. Singapore


6. Australia


2. New Zealand


7. Sweden


3. Germany


8. Switzerland


4. Canada


9. Taiwan


5. Bahrain


10. UAE


19. Vietnam


Vietnam stays relatively competitive in the eyes of expats in terms of economic elements. The country ranks 10th in the Economics sub league table, the second highest after Singapore (third) among the six ASEAN countries. In Economics, Vietnam ranks the first place in the world in helping expats save more and have more disposable income (both 72 per cent).

The country, however, receives less favourable feedback when it comes to Experience (rank 17th) and Family (rank 26th). Only 42 per cent of expats in Vietnam agree that they enjoy an overall better quality of life, including everything from health to culture compared to more than half (52 per cent) of expats across the world.

Thinking about their early experience of life as an expat in Vietnam, under one third (27 per cent) of expats enjoy the ease of organising finances (e.g. bank account, insurance, paying taxes) and more than one third (35 per cent) experience healthcare issues such as local doctor and insurance without difficulty (global average 43 and 46 per cent, respectively). Besides, only 18 per cent of expat parents agree that the quality of childcare in Vietnam is better than in their home country, compared to the global average of 38 per cent.

However, work is less stressful than it was at home for almost 40 per cent of expats say they are more fulfilled working in Vietnam than they were at home. With work colleagues making up the majority of the expat social circle, getting on well at work means getting on well in other areas of life. The Vietnamese workplace offers that too, with 35 per cent of expats here saying they can socialise at work better than in their home country. All in all, 92 per cent of expats working in Vietnam say they are as happy or happier working here than they were at home.

“There are many reasons to move overseas, such as career progression, a better life for your family or just to embark on a new adventure. One thing is clear, those who take the leap enjoy a world of different experiences, gaining new skills and learning about themselves along the way,” said John Goddard, head of HSBC Expat.

“Making that first step abroad requires courage, but the rewards are well worth it. If you are thinking of taking the plunge into a new life, there is a lot to consider, whether it’s your visa, bank account or where you are going to live. Planning is key so that you can focus on what really matters – meeting new people, discovering a new country, and finding a new perspective,” he added.

By Trang Nguyen

What the stars mean:

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