26 July 2008

UAE tops in providing luxury to expatriates

By Shakir Husain, Staff Reporter
Published: July 25, 2008, 23:41

Dubai: The UAE offers the most luxurious lifestyle for expatriates and has been voted overall as the second best place to live, a survey of 15 destinations shows.Expatriates found Singapore as the best place overall, while Britain and France were among the least favoured places.

The US also ranked alongside the UAE as the second best place for expatriates. Singapore has been rated highly for the quality of accommodation, and followed the UAE in luxury living.Expatriates based in India, Hong Kong and Singapore earned the highest salaries in the world. Almost half of those in Hong Kong earned more than $198,650 a year, while the number of such people in India and Singapore was about 40 per cent, the study commissioned by British banking group HSBC found.

More than half complained about poorer housing conditions after moving to Hong Kong and said they were spending more on accommodation in the city.Jersey in the Channel Islands received the least favourable response. Britain followed after being described as the most expensive in terms of accommodation, with 85 per cent of respondents reporting an increase in living costs.

France ranked number 13, scoring low on its level of luxury and accommodation. Spain and China ranked 12th and 11th respectively, while Australia was number 10.Australia scored highly on levels of luxury, ability to earn and save and accommodation, but scored low on duration of expatriate stay.HSBC said the survey examined "the opportunities, challenges and difficulties that come with a life away from home". It covered 2,155 respondents in 49 countries and territories, but ranked only those from which it received more than 30 responses.

This included how easy expatriates found it to integrate, how they viewed the changes in their lifestyle, and their children's experiences in a new country.

Vast community

"The global expat community is vast and living in foreign countries means expats do not often have the normal outlets to express their viewpoints. This survey has allowed us to delve into the lives of these expats on an unprecedented scale and reveal some fascinating trends into how life differs from country to country," said Paul Say, head of communications at HSBC Bank International.

The UAE was the most luxurious destination, with expatriates enjoying increases in 10 of the 11 categories, followed by Singapore and India. Britain was ranked the least luxurious with decreases recorded in nine of the 11 luxuries.Expatriates were asked if their lifestyles were more luxurious than in the places they left behind. Countries were rated on categories such as access to private healthcare, access to more than one property, ability to own a swimming pool, regular holidays, and to employ personal staff.

The survey found that despite the current economic climate, expatriates spend more but still manage to save.

Top countries for saving included India, the UAE and Singapore.

Low living cost in India enabled 82 per cent of expatriates to save more than they were able to in their own countries.However, Europe received top ranking when it came to the duration of stay and expatriates settling down. Eighty-two per cent of expatriates now living in the Netherlands have been there for three or more years, followed by Germany at 77 per cent.