China is Top Spot for (Single) Expats

Thursday, October 31, 2013 7:12
Posted in category The Big Picture


The latest HSBC Expat Explorer rankings are out, and you’ll never guess who took first place.  That’s right…. CHINA!!

China’s #1

China’s #1

China’s #1

Which, given all the issues that North China has had with smog, concerns over food safety, and a tightening of visas, may have come as a surprise for some, but that jives with the fact that china is the world’s primary growth engine (at present), the number of people who have moved here in the last few years has been visibly picking up, and despite (or perhaps in spite) of the pollution, people are quite happy about their lives here.

Particularly as China has jobs… which most of South Europe and many parts of the U.S. are not able to offer right now.

Looking at the data, what is interesting to me is that while China is #1 overall it is #16 for raising a family. Something that actually comes as no surprise to me at all given the vast majority of expats I speak with who are actively looking for an exit have a family, but now there is some scientific evidence to support show the level of concerns that families have

  • Quality of child care (17th) – You get what you pay for (see next question)
  • Cost of Childcare (3rd) – a reason many say it is hard to leave
  • Quality of education (7th) – makes sense as few being surveyed would have kids in public school
  • Cost of education (5th) – a sign that the cost of expat education is ridiculous globally
  • Access to Better Education (24th) -  makes sense given there are few options, that are all expensive, and all have a wait list
  • Health and well being of children (20th) – Shanghai expats clearly helped out here
  • Better quality of life (24th) – THE reason to move?
  • Children are more rounded/ confident (8th) – Exposure to a diversity of cultures, new food, and their own drivers will do that.
  • Children are more outgoing (15th) – Huh?
  • Children are learning new language (5th) – Chinese is the language of future!
  • Children have a wider circle/ diversity of friends (8th) – Guanxi…

All of which lead me to believe that while parents are concerned about health and about them having a better life (than back home I presume), it all seems worth it given the “experience” that the family is having.  The break winner is making a load of cash and padding the CV, trailing spouse is supported by cheap labor, the kids are attending schools that were on average better than their school back home, and there are three weeks to travel around Asia as a family.

China’s #1!

China’s #1!

China’s #1!

For me, there is little question that this survey accurately reflects sentiment on the ground.

Yes the smog in Beijing (north China) is horrendous and kids cannot go outside to play, but fortunately for them (if they are there) their tuition ensures their schools can afford “pollution domes“.

If things get bad enough,  moving to Shanghai is an option.

Still in China.  Still #1

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5 Responses to “China is Top Spot for (Single) Expats”

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    October 31st, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    It’d be useful to see that broken down by city. Parts of China are far more popular than others. However I believe other parts of Asia are also attracting expats – Singapore for example, while the living in Vietnam and to some extent the Philippines is also good quality compared to cost.

  2. Rich says:

    October 31st, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Chris – I would like to see how Taiwan ranks against mainland. It doesn’t offer the economy (on average) that many of the other Asia cities do, but it is really family friendly, great service culture, and has a quality of life that is on par with Singapore… but cheaper. MUCH cheaper.

  3. Renaud says:

    October 31st, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    China is 7th for “healthy diet”? Really? 

  4. RSG says:

    November 4th, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Mainland beat Hong Kong on “organising finances.” Something isn’t right…

  5. Rich says:

    November 4th, 2013 at 2:53 am

    I think that was supposed to mean “hide money”