Almost half of expats in the UK hit hard by the global economic downturn are considering returning home, with those currently based in the US, Thailand and South Africa the worst affected, a new survey reveals.
Expat Economics, the first of three instalments of the annual HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer survey identified the UK and US as having some of he highest numbers of expats considering a homeward move, surveying over 3,100 expats from around 50 countries.
Almost half of expats in the UK and close to a quarter of those in the US are considering returning home, in stark contrast to the average of only 15% of expats overall who are contemplating the same move.
This year the survey has probed expats' quality of life by examining for economic factors: annual income in excess of $200,000, monthly disposable income over $3,000, an increase in saving while living or working abroad and having at least two luxury items in the country they live in.
Overall, expats based in the US, Thailand and South Africa has been hit hardest by the credit crunch, cutting their spending on essential and luxury items, as well as the money allocated to savings and investments. The largest reduction in essential daily items was seen in Spain where almost two thirds of expats have cut back. Nearly 80% of expats in the US and 75% of UK-based expats have also scaled down their spending on day-to-day purchases.
Conversely, Asia is home to the highest paid expats with a quarter earning in excess of $200,000 a year. The survey also identified Russia, Japan and Qatar as home to the wealthiest expats. Over a third of Russia-based expats, 40% of Japan-based expats and 22% of expats in Qatar earning above the $200,000 mark.
Belgium and Australia are home to the least wealthy expats, with almost two thirds in Belgium and over 60% in Australia earning below $100,000. This compares to an average of 35% across the board.
The survey also found emerging markets are best for expats' finances. Russia scores highest as a result of the number of expats saving more, higher annual savings and the amount of disposable income available. Qatar claimed second place and Saudi Arabia third, dragged down by lower annual salaries.
Switzerland and the UK ranked first and second respectively for Europe, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia leading the charge in the Middle East, Russia and Hong Kong top for the Asia Pacific region and Mexico and the US highest in the Americas.
"There is no doubt that we have seen some interesting trends in terms of how expats are reacting to the credit crunch, but what is also interesting to see is that they remain to be a wealthy group of individuals," says Paul Say, head of marketing and communications for HSBC Bank International.
"Over half of the expats surveyed are actually earning US$100,000 and over - no mean feat particularly in the current climate," he adds.
The next instalment in the Expat Explorer series will be released in August and focus on expats' quality of life. The full report is avaialale at: http://www.offshore.hsbc.com/expatexplorer.
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