By Glenn Ruffenach
Thinking about moving overseas in retirement? Or perhaps you simply want to spend an extended period of time abroad. A new tool from HSBC Bank International can help you identify some of the best countries to call home.
The service, called “Expat Explorer,” starts with survey responses from about 4,100 expats in more than 100 countries, who answered questions relating to their finances and quality of life. HSBC calls the study the “largest independent global survey of expats.”
Users can tap the findings in three ways. First, you can select specific criteria under three broad headings – Economics, Experience and Offspring – to find the “best” destinations for your needs. For instance, if “healthcare” (under Economics) and “fitting in the new culture” (under Experience) are important to you, the service indicates that France and Thailand are among your best bets. (At the opposite end of the scale: China.)
Second, the tool allows you to focus on individual countries (some, but not all) and learn more about expats’ reactions to their adopted homes. Spain, for instance, “scores the highest of all countries,” according to the site, “for integration, especially in relation to local friends and local shopping (1st) local food, local culture and local language (2nd).”
Finally, the service offers a number of “Expat Findings” – brief articles about various expatriate topics. Some sample headlines: “Emotive Worries Top the List of Expat Concerns,” “Expats Gravitate Toward Fellow Expats” and “BRIC Countries Appear To Be Emerging Expat Hotspots.” (“BRIC” being Brazil, Russia, India and China.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, the site finds that “countries that score well on quality-of-life-rankings are very popular with those wishing to retire abroad.” To that end, the site offers a ranking of countries scoring well on quality of life overall – and that score “particularly well” on food, local diet, and healthcare. With all that in mind, the top 10 countries that appear to be “ideal” locations for many expat retirees are: Thailand, Bahrain, South Africa, Canada, Bermuda, Spain, France, Switzerland, Australia and Malaysia.