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Canada one of easiest countries to settle in, says survey


HSBC Bank International today revealed that Germany, Canada, and Spain are perceived to be the easiest countries to settle in, according to the findings of the third and final report in its Expat Explorer survey, Expat Experience.

The HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer survey is the largest ever independent survey of expatriates, questioning 2,155 expats across four continents. The Expat Experience report examines the integration challenges faced by expats relocating to a new country by looking at the cultural and social differences experienced. Expats were asked to rate their host country in four areas:

  • Whether they made friends with people from the local population;  
  • If they joined a local community group, such as a religious or sports group;
  • Whether or not they learned the local language; and  
  • If they bought property in their host country.

Among the most difficult countries in which to integrate were Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and China. Australia ranked poorly on the number of expats who joined community groups; expats in the UAE found it difficult to make friends; and China scored relatively low for the number of expats who bought property.

Martin Spurling, CEO for HSBC Bank International and head of HSBC Offshore Islands, says,  “We commissioned this independent survey to take a look into the lives and experiences of our customers who live across the globe and the transitional challenges they encounter from country to country.

“This final report in our Expat Explorer series focuses on something that is incredibly important to all expats – their ability to fit into their new home. This is often the aspect that is most daunting, with many concerned about whether or not they will be able to make friends or feel like they belong in their adopted country. Through this survey we have been provided with a fascinating insight into our customers’ lives which will help us also to best adapt to their offshore finance needs.”

Other results include:

  • The survey found that Canada is the most welcoming country to expats, with almost all (95 per cent) of respondents claiming that they found it easy to make friends with the locals. This was followed by Germany (92 per cent) and Australia (91 per cent).
  • The United Arab Emirates was revealed to be the hardest country in which to make friends with the local population, with only half of expats living there (54 per cent - the lowest score in the survey) advising that they found it easy to make local friends. Singapore also ranked lower, with 68 per cent of respondents indicating that they found it possible to make local friends.
  • Almost half (45 per cent) of all respondents said that they had joined a local community group as expatriates. Expats living in Germany were most likely to join a community group (65 per cent of respondents), followed by around half of expats living in Hong Kong (53 per cent), Singapore (50 per cent), Canada (50 per cent) and the US (50 per cent).  
  • Australia, despite scoring highly for making friends with local people, came last in the category, with just 38 per cent of expats saying that they had joined one of these groups.
  • Expats living in Europe were most likely to learn the local language. Germany came top in this category with three-quarters of expats learning the German language, followed by expats in Spain (70 per cent) and Belgium (70 per cent) who were also likely to adopt the language of their country of residence. Conversely, only one-fifth of expats in Singapore and Hong Kong (20 per cent) learned the language of their new homeland.
  • France came out as a property hotspot, ranking highest in the category of expats buying property, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents stating that they had purchased a property in the country. Expats in Asia are the least likely to buy a home with India (6 per cent), China (12 per cent) and Singapore (24 per cent) ranking lowest for purchasing a property.

The Expat Experience report also examined other aspects relevant to expat integration, including whether or not expats had children in their adopted country, if they had married someone from the local population, if they had set up a new business or changed their citizenship.

To see these results along with more of the findings and the full league table of the third and final report in the Expat Explorer series, visit

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