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This means that Vietnam is among the 10 leading destinations in the world for expat earning potential according to the HSBC Expat's Expat Explorer survey.
Singapore tops the list, followed by Bermuda (2nd), Thailand (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), Cayman Islands (5), Mexico (6), China (7), Switzerland (8) and Bahrain (9).
Nearly 50 per cent earn more after moving to Vietnam
According to the survey, while half (47 per cent) of expats in Vietnam agree that they earn more since moving to the country and two thirds (63 per cent) think that the financial status of their household has improved, only a third (30 per cent) associate the country with higher salaries compared with its Asian counterparts.
A third (33 per cent) found that they have better life opportunities than in their previous country which is a very small proportion when compared to two thirds (60 per cent) worldwide. However, expats are generally in agreement that Vietnam is on the way up with over half (57 per cent) thinking that country is getting better for expats.
In terms of expat experience, Vietnam falls into the fourth quartile of the Expat Experience league tables at 27th. Despite the lower rankings, those surveyed in this study are often surprised by what the country has to offer. A third (30 per cent) expected a better quality of life but upon relocation, two in five (40 per cent) actually found that to be the case.
While the quality of life may not be as good as in other countries, expats often head to Vietnam to challenge themselves. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) have found that they have developed and been stretched as individuals, and nearly the same proportion (70 per cent) expected to lead a more interesting life and associate the country with being a culturally interesting place (63 per cent).
Those living in Vietnam have generally found a good work balance; half (50 per cent) said it is better than in their previous country. This may be in part due to the higher standard of accommodation. Over half 53 per cent believe that they have better housing and living quarters than in their home country, while a quarter (27 per cent) have a swimming pool when they didn't before. Two in five (40 per cent) of expats also enjoy more domestic help than they did in their home country.
Despite the difficulty of the local language with three quarters (70 per cent) described learning it as difficult – expats in Vietnam still make an effort to learn and use the language (70 per cent).
Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) associate Vietnam with friendly locals. In spite of this, there is still a strong expat community, with over half (53 per cent) saying that they have more expat friends than locals and only one in five (20 per cent) saying that they have more local friends.
Southeast Asia in dominance
In the midst of global turmoil, expats in Southeast Asia continue to benefit from increased earnings with Singapore holding the largest proportion of wealthy expats of any country.
More than half (54 per cent) of Singapore-based expats earn more than $200,000 per year, compared to a global survey average of only 7 per cent.
Furthermore, four in five (80 per cent) expats in Singapore saw an increase in their disposable income since relocating.
The dominance of Asia in this 2012 report is different from previous years when the Middle East boasted the wealthiest expatriates.
In the 2011 survey, Saudi Arabia occupied the top spot, with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain also featuring in the top 10.
This year, the only country in the Middle East to appear in the top 10 was Bahrain, with Saudi Arabia falling to 18th place.
HSBC said that the high ranking of Singapore and Vietnam this time suggested that Southeast Asia in particular is coming to the fore as a region where expats can boost their earnings potential.
The annual Expat Explorer survey, now in its 5th year, is the largest global survey of expats. In 2012, HSBC Expat's Expat Explorer surveyed 5,339 expats from nearly 100 countries worldwide; making it the largest ever sample to date.