11 January 2019

Say Auf Wiedersehen to a dead-end career: the best places in the world to work revealed

  • Germany is the best place in the world for globetrotters, followed by Bahrain and the UK
  • Australia moves up four places to be ranked 15th overall
  • Working abroad helps 55% of Aussies become more confident and 64% more adaptable

A stint abroad starting this year could help you become confident, creative and adaptable, according to a global survey by HSBC.

The survey of more than 22,000 expats from 163 countries and territories shows that career progression (35%) is one of the main reasons why Aussies settle abroad, but despite this, the grass isn’t necessarily greener, with 45% also revealing the overall quality of life isn’t better overseas.

Ambitious Aussies looking to progress their careers should look towards Germany, which has overtaken previous leaders Norway and Switzerland as the best place in the world to work abroad in HSBC’s annual survey. The strong work-life balance and job security put it ahead of other solid performers such as Bahrain and the UK.

The best places in the world to work

Rank The best places to work abroad
1 Germany
2 Bahrain
3 UK
5 Switzerland
6 Sweden
7 Singapore
8 US
9 Canada
10 Hong Kong

#1 Germany – Work to live not live to work

German businesses have clearly earned their reputation for efficiency, with 65% of expats describing the country as productive. Lucky for expats, this productively doesn’t translate into an overworked workforce, with 71% of foreign workers in Germany confirming that their work/life balance has improved.

According to HSBC’s survey, Germany has the second best working culture in the world, behind only Sweden. Almost three quarters (73%) of foreign workers in Germany claim to have improved job security as a result of the move, the best in the world thanks to a highly regulated labour market. They also get the benefit of being able to turn to their Betriebsrat (worker council) if they need help, advice or support as they get settled into their new job.

#2 Bahrain – The best expat pay package

Storming 10 places up the rankings this year, Bahrain is attracting the world’s best and brightest with enviable pay packages. Seventy-seven per cent of foreign workers say their earning prospects are better in Bahrain than back at home, up from 62% last year. Even more striking, the majority of foreigners that come to Bahrain for work receive an accommodation allowance (69%), airfare allowance (68%) and medical allowance (64%), while one in four (23%) can expect a bonus to help cover living expenses.

Taking the time to build face-to-face relationships is key to doing business in Bahrain, just one reason why it is the best place to go in the world to develop as a leader. The majority (59%) of respondents in Bahrain say working in the country has helped them to become a better leader.

#3 United Kingdom – A melting pot for ambitious minds

Up six places in the rankings, internationally mobile citizens are raving about what working in the UK has to offer for both professional and personal development. Almost half of the people who move to the UK do so for their career. The average working expat in the UK sees gains across the board in work/life balance, career progression and earning prospects. The positive elements of working life in the UK also results in 58% of foreign workers describing the working culture as better than in their home country.

Britain’s foreign workforce is young, educated and ambitious, more than two fifths (43%) have a post graduate degree. Global talent has long powered the international melting pot of London and that does not appear to be slowing down. According to respondents, the UK is the best country in the world for those who want to learn new skills and the 4th best to climb the career ladder, narrowly behind Hong Kong, US and Singapore.

Katie Docherty, Chief Operating Officer for Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC Australia, commented:

“The new year is often a great time for self-reflection, especially when it comes to our careers. And while there’s no standard approach for which direction Aussies should take in order to thrive – a move overseas could be the most natural option.

“Whether it’s to challenge yourself, improve your earnings or take a calculated risk to secure the job of your dreams, it’s important to know well in advance that working overseas can impact your finances.

“Understanding your tax obligations, managing your wealth and finding a suitable foreign exchange solution to protect against currency fluctuations can help you focus on your career and settle more quickly into your new home.”

New Year Career Resolutions

If self-improvement is on your list of New Year resolutions, a stint abroad could be the answer. Try these destinations to become your best self:

  • Get out of your comfort zone: Working abroad anywhere can make you more adaptable (64% of Aussies working abroad say this), more confident (55%) and more organized (35%).
  • Learn to lead: Bahrain is the place to go if you want to find your voice as a leader. Fifty-nine per cent of people say working there has developed their leadership skills.
  • Make new friends: Eager to become a people person? Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines are the most sociable work places in the world.
  • Finish that novel: Head to Brazil, 57% of foreign workers say working in Brazil has made them more creative.

Expat Explorer online:

Media enquiries:

Ashleigh Baines
T: +61 2 9255 2385
M: +61 466 939 408
Email: ashleigh.baines@hsbc.com.au