20 October 2021

Australia ranks second in top 10 places to live and work globally: HSBC research

*** Study of 20,000+ expats reveals their global confidence to live and work abroad has not diminished despite Covid-19 challenges ***

*** Majority of expats in Australia say they will continue living here for the next year at least ***

*** Positive outlook fuelled by the potential to live ‘normally’ again and enjoy the local quality of life ***

Australia remains an attractive destination for expats despite the pandemic, ranking as the second most popular location in HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer study - a global survey of over 20,000 people who live and work abroad.

Quality of life and climate, physical wellbeing and mental health, coupled with safe and secure surroundings are all reasons why 83% of expats in Australia feel optimistic about the year ahead, despite the uncertainty of the past 18 months.

The key driver of their optimism is the expectation that they will soon live ‘normally’ again (92% vs 75% of expats globally). Additionally, almost eight in 10 (79%) feel positive due to the quality of life they enjoy in Australia.

The study also found countries that have maintained a sense of stability during the pandemic are most likely to be attractive to foreign professionals. The majority of expats based in Australia would recommend it as a ‘stable’ place for relocation in the next 12 months (80%) – behind only New Zealand (84%) and Switzerland (86%).

Expats’ desire to live and work abroad has clearly not been diminished by the pandemic – the majority of expats plan to stay in Australia (92% vs 80% globally) for the foreseeable future, with only 5% planning to move.

The findings suggest many are prioritising lifestyle over traditional relocation drivers such as career progression (29%) or expanding professional network (35%). The top five goals that expats in Australia look forward to achieving in the next 12 months are:

  1. Getting to know the local area (74% vs 50% globally)
  2. Going out more (66% vs 41% globally)
  3. Understanding and exploring local culture (63% vs 47% globally)
  4. Attending live performance events (58% vs 29% globally)
  5. Travelling (56% vs 47% globally)

The bulk of expats (90%) believe their quality of life in Australia is better than that of their home country – with 44% feeling a stronger sense of fulfilment and 52% having more free time to pursue hobbies and socialise.

The study also highlighted key challenges that expats globally have faced during the pandemic. Over half (61% vs 63% globally) have been stopped completely or not travelled abroad as much for business, and the majority (93% vs 90% globally) were either completely unable to see family or friends in their home countries, or haven’t done so as much as they’d like.

Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Australia said: “As our borders reopen we can again expect Australia to be top of the list for globally curious professionals seeking international experience.

“The past 18 months have tested everyone’s resilience, but our research shows there’s still a sense of optimism among our expat community.”

Overall, expats ranked the following locations as the top 10 places to live and work in 2021:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Australia ***Up from 8th position in 2020***
  3. New Zealand
  4. UAE
  5. Guernsey
  6. Jersey
  7. Isle of Man
  8. Bahrain
  9. Singapore
  10. Qatar

For more information about the findings visit: www.expat.hsbc.com/expat-explorer-results/


In Australia, the HSBC Group offers an extensive range of financial services through a network of 45 branches and offices. These services include retail and commercial banking, trade finance, treasury and financial markets, payments and cash management and securities custody. Principal HSBC Group members operating in Australia include HSBC Bank Australia Limited (ABN 48 006 434 162 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 232595) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (ABN 65 117 925 970 and AFSL 301737).


Expat Explorer is a comprehensive and in-depth global survey of expats. The 2021 survey is HSBC’s broadest look at expat living to date, with expats from 46 countries and regions sharing their views. YouGov surveyed 20,460 adults aged 18+ currently living away from their country of origin/home country, in 143 countries, territories and markets, through an online questionnaire between March and May 2021. A minimum sample of 100 respondents was required for a location to qualify for inclusion; this year, 46 locations qualified.

Media enquiries:

Rebecca Searl
M: +61 481 060 837
E-mail: rebecca.searl@hsbc.com.au