4 May 2023

New HSBC research shows offshore grass not always greener for young travellers

  • It takes around nine months on average to feel settled when relocating to Australia, according to HSBC’s latest research, but for a quarter (26%) of those surveyed it took over a year.
  • While a majority (68%) of respondents aged 35 to 64 feel a sense of belonging in their new location, only around half (55%) of Gen Z respondents (those aged 18-24) feel this way.
  • Locations where respondents felt they settled fastest include the United Arab Emirates (40%), and India (36%), while in Australia only 25% of international citizens felt settled instantly.

New research from HSBC reveals that while the top motivations for moving overseas are the promise of a better lifestyle or a better work/life balance - an idea shared by a third (31%) of people - the path to feeling settled with a real sense of belonging is not always straightforward.

The study, which surveyed over 7,000 people in nine countries*, found it takes someone on average just under nine months to feel settled when they relocate to Australia, while half (50%) feel settled in under six months.

When asked about top strategies to feel more at home, respondents were clear that putting in the effort to connect with others and experience local culture comes top:

Actions respondents took to feel at home Percentage
1. Socialising with local community in cinemas, restaurants, etc. 32%
2. Attending local cultural events 27%
3. Invested money in my new host location, for example saving with a local bank or buying a property 26%
4. Participating in activities at their children’s schools 25%

Whilst learning the local language was not in the top five – suggesting it is not a barrier to belonging – it was embraced by a fifth (20%) of respondents.

When coming to Australia, people mostly move for a full- or part-time job (37%), or to study or develop a skill (22%), and sometimes simply because their partner wanted to move here (18%).

Commenting on the study, Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Australia at HSBC, said: “We undertook this research to better understand how our customers experience the richness and diversity of life that comes with living and working in different cultures, to find the best ways to support them in their journey.

“Although it sometimes takes people over six months to feel settled here in Australia, we’ve seen that many people who do come to Australia plan to stay for 2 – 5 years, about 40 per cent of those moving, so it is critical for us to help them transition for the long term and feel financially secure.

“We also now know that more than half, 53 per cent, of people that have moved to Australia feel that nobody helped them financially prepare for the move, and we want to change this.

“We service over six million international customers, and many of them stay with us as they relocate to new countries. It is our mission to better help these people by trying to remove the social and financial barriers that can prevent people from settling in smoothly and finding a sense of belonging.

“By better understanding the challenges, we’re better equipped to support our customers as they embark on exciting new adventures,” she said.

Geoffrey Cohen, Stanford Professor and expert in the science and psychology of belonging, ccommenting on the findings said: “Living in another country can be exciting and enriching but also daunting. A core challenge isn’t so much a practical matter as a psychological one - the task of creating a home. Home is a psychological state as much as a physical place, one defined by a sense of belonging - a feeling of being an accepted part of a larger community. That’s why it’s important for people to be patient, not put pressure on themselves and take their time to feel settled – plus with some helpful strategies this process can be more seamless. HSBC’s research highlights the emotional barriers people face when moving abroad. Feeling isolated is a key reason some people felt their experience ‘falls short’ of expectations; and on the flip side, finding a sense of belonging in their host country can provide them with motivation to stay longer.”

New exchange launched for local insights

To help people feel settled faster when moving, HSBC is launching the Unforeign Exchange, a new online community which allows people who are relocating to exchange local insights with those who have real-life experience – anecdotes and insights that cannot be found by simply searching the web.

These real-life insights are generated by international experts, HSBC colleagues and selected influencers, with the goal of making it easier for people who are re-locating to find their feet in their new home.

For more information on what to consider when setting up overseas, read HSBC’s Guide To Moving Abroad.

Notes to editors

  1. *About the survey: Ipsos UK, surveyed over 7,000 adults across nine international locations. Research was conducted by Ipsos UK on behalf of HSBC from 05/12/22 to 23/01/23. The study investigated the experiences of those currently living, working and studying abroad, as well as those who are planning to do so and those who have returned within the last five years. It explored the experience of a range of different international citizens, including expat families, digital nomads and overseas students. Full methodology: www.ipsos.com/en-uk/new-hsbc-research-reveals-financial-challenges-relocating-abroad
  2. About the Unforeign Exchange: Join the conversation @hsbc on Instagram #HSBCInternationalist
  3. Geoffrey Cohen is a Stanford Professor and Author. His research focuses on the processes that shape people’s sense of belonging and self-concept and designing scientifically informed solutions to social problems. More about his work at: www.geoffreylcohen.com/
  4. Additional Australian data findings:

    • Pre-departure anxieties, and unexpected challenges, can bring additional complexities for international citizens moving abroad. For example, a majority (70%) assumed there would be suitable schools available, but far fewer (62%) found it easy to find one in practice.
    • For half (50%) of international citizens, arranging important aspects in advance - such as mobile phone, bank account or credit card - is vital because it impacts their sense of feeling settled. However, 44% of those who are planning a move admitted they don’t know where to start to get set-up.
    • While a majority (68%) of respondents aged 35 to 64 feel a sense of belonging in their new location, only half (55%) of Gen Z respondents (those aged 18-24) feel this way.
  5. HSBC support for international customers: Products and services are available across 10 countries and territories: Australia, Canada, mainland China, Channel Islands & Isle of Man, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, UAE, UK, US. The suite of products and services, tailored for international customers enable customers to:

    • Open a new account before they arrive at their destination, without visiting a branch.
    • See all their HSBC accounts in one global view; make simple, fast, and competitively priced payments.
    • Build a positive credit history in their new location.
    • Manage their banking needs in different time zones with 24/7 support **
    • Access services with global partners beyond banking (tax solutions, relocation support, special offers).

    More information here: https://internationalservices.hsbc.com/

    **Full 24-hour support is available for Premier customers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mainland China, the United Arab Emirates, HSBC Expat, Australia, Canada, the United States and India. Key services are available in the United Kingdom and for non-Premier customers. Chinese language support is provided for HSBC Premier customers in Singapore, Canada, US and Australia.

  6. Not all HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking products and services are available in all geographical locations or available to all customers. Availability of products and services will depend on the country or territory you are located or resident in and restrictions on client eligibility. Different companies within HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking or the HSBC Group may provide the products or services according to local regulatory requirements.

About HSBC Bank Australia

In Australia, the HSBC Group offers an extensive range of financial services through a network of 41 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 30173).

Media enquiries:

Belinda Skurnik
M: +61 405 395 200
E-mail: belinda.skurnik@hsbc.com.au