Singapore tops quality of life index

Singapore is the country which offers British expats the best quality of life, according to a new report.

The eighth annual NatWest International Personal Banking (IPB) Quality of Life Index reveals that Singapore has topped the rankings for British expats seeking a happier, healthier and wealthier life for the first time.

The study reveals that over eight in ten British expats in Singapore (84 per cent) had seen an increase in their overall quality of life since moving to the island nation. A similar number reported an improvement in their health (86 per cent), a nicer, sunnier environment (84 per cent) and better job conditions as the main selling points of the ‘Lion City’. Interestingly, despite the improved lifestyle, only nine per cent of expats planned to stay in Singapore permanently, as the majority are there on temporary work assignments.

Last year’s top destination, Australia, fell to seventh in the list, while Canada fell from second to seventh. The UAE, China, New Zealand and Hong Kong all improved their ranking from last year and all ranked higher than Australia and Canada.

One reason given for some of the more ‘traditional’ expat destinations having been overtaken is the shift that has come about due to an increase in the amount of temporary expats seeking work across the globe. In 2008, when the Quality of Life Index began, expats were predominantly ‘lifers’ (67 per cent), who were more likely to move abroad in search of sun, sea and a fresh start. By 2015, the Natwest Index revealed that these types of expats accounted for just 28 per cent; while temporary expats account for 40 per cent.

The shift in temporary expats’ destination is largely due to the growing demand for British professional skills in a number of prominent Asian and Arabic countries, following rapid economic growth and a greatly improved standard of living.

The vast majority of expats in Asia, for instance, experienced an increase in disposable income after relocating, particularly in Singapore (83 per cent), Hong Kong (78 per cent) and China (72 per cent). This in stark contrast to European countries included in the index, which indicated that around a quarter of all expats now felt nervous or anxious about their economic situation (Portugal 22 per cent, Spain 26 per cent, France, 28 per cent).

Top ten countries for British expat quality of life (last year’s position in brackets)

  1. Singapore (4)
  2. UAE (3)
  3. China (5)
  4. New Zealand (6)
  5. Hong Kong (8)
  6. Canada (2)
  7. Australia (1)
  8. South Africa (7)
  9. USA (9)
  10. Portugal (10)