Expats in Asia best paid, but U.S. and UK-based suffer: poll

Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:43am EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Want the good life despite the dire economy? Head east, according to a survey showing some of the world's highest-paid expatriates live in Asia and the Middle East.

A third of all expats in Russia -- the highest proportion in the world -- earn more than $250,000 a year, followed closely by expats in Japan and Qatar, according to the 2009 Expat Explorer survey, commissioned by HSBC Bank International, the offshore financial services arm of HSBC Holdings.

Between a third and a quarter of foreigners working in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and India earned annual wages of more than $200,000, while countries such as Malaysia, China and India, were ranked among the cheapest for accommodation.

"Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world, with one in four expats earning more than $200,000 per year," said the survey (here).

Russia was ranked the number one country overall for expats in terms of wealth. The rest of the top nine were all in Asia and the Middle East.

Building a nest egg is one of the perks of expat life for many people, and the survey showed that Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, India and the United Arab Emirates were the top five countries where people have increased their savings.

But the global economic crisis has taken a heavy toll on expats in Britain and the United States, where close to a quarter are considering returning home, compared to just 15 percent overall, due to the high cost of living, lack of savings and lower wages.

Generous salaries are also relatively scarce in Australia and Belgium, the survey showed. More than 60 percent of expats in both countries earn under $100,000, making them the poorest expats wage-wise when compared to a global average of 35 percent.   Continued...

<p>Office workers are seen at a shopping district in Tokyo June 18, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>