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Expats achieve a better quality of life

21st April 2010 Print

Nine out of 10 British expatriates (89%) believe they enjoy a better quality of life abroad according to the third annual NatWest International Personal Banking (NatWest IPB) Quality of Life Report.

Getting the balance right

When it comes to living and working overseas the advantages come thick and fast. Working hours are far less intensive and expats say they manage to achieve a better work / life balance with much more leisure time. The 2010 NatWest IPB global study of British expatriate opinions and attitudes undertaken with think tank, Centre for Future Studies, shows 87% rate their work / life balance as being excellent or good, and working environments are also rated highly - the majority (89%) say their working environment is excellent or good.

The feel good factor is further reinforced by analysis that reveals the vast majority of expats sampled over the past three years have achieved their ambition of a better quality of life and their experience has far exceeded their expectations (2008: 86%, in 2010: 92%). Scores across the 16 key life experience factors have increased overall. And in particular, the quality of accommodation score has improved by 0.9 to a median score of 4.6. (1 being poor and 5 being excellent).

A good indication of the level of satisfaction with the quality of life abroad is that the number of expats saying they will return to the UK at some point in the future has declined from 26% in 2008 to 19% in 2010.

Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking comments: "Our Quality of Life study incorporates expats' real life perceptions and experiences and gauges their personal assessment - satisfaction or dissatisfaction - with their circumstances abroad. And it seems the grass really is greener for Brits living abroad as our study shows. The fact that fewer expats say they will return to the UK in the future, compared to three years ago, proves that the pace of life, work life balance and earning potential abroad means life as an expat is sunnier in more ways than one - and that they are weathering the financial storm."

Climbing the career ladder

Professional expats can earn significantly more than their peers back home. On average, an expat professional's salary is up to £20,000 higher than their UK counterparts - a significant incentive to tempt many Brits abroad. 92% reported a salary increase over the past three years (with a median increase of 13%) - a far cry away for many Brits in the UK. The highest reported average salary increase was in Hong Kong (19%), followed by UAE at 17% and Spain at 14%.

The majority of expats surveyed (68%) say their top achievement when living oversees was ‘building a successful career' with 88% rating their future career prospects as being either excellent or good.

And taking the plunge and living abroad needn't come with the financial insecurity many might fear. More than a quarter of expats (27%) think of themselves as either very well off financially (10%) or quite well off (17%). The majority (63%) declare themselves comfortable with their financial position.

The majority (59%) of expats are confident they will be better off financially in five years time. However, those in Western Europe and the US are less confident.

But, quality of life isn't all about money - the countries with the highest reported earnings (Singapore; UAE; China and Hong Kong) are ranked at the bottom of the NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Index. In this context, it is significant that a small percentage of expats living in these countries intend to retire in these countries (UAE 5%, Singapore 4%, China 3%, Hong Kong 2%). The majority intend to return to the UK (China 84%, Singapore 62%, Hong Kong, 69% UAE 67%).

Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking comments: "The dream shared by many Brits of living a happy life abroad is alive and kicking, despite the global economic factors which have to some extent affected British expats.

"Believe it or not, there seems to be more to having and leading a fulfilled life than just money. British expats have built their lives abroad on solid foundations - with the climate, culture and leisure, healthcare and education all deemed more important than financial security or financial well being for them."