Living and working outside one’s home country can be a challenging experience, often involving a leap into the unknown.

Yet many expats find building their lives, careers and families in different locations around the world a positive experience, according to HSBC’s 2016 Expat Explorer report, Achieving ambitions abroad, which includes a league table of the most desirable countries for expats.

HSBC’s findings represent the views of 26,871 expats — adults 18 and older who are currently living away from their country of origin/home country — in 190 countries and territories surveyed online by YouGov last March and April.

Forty-three percent of respondents were female and 57% male; 31% were millennials, 44% Gen Xers and 25% boomers. The top occupations of survey participants were finance, 14%; education, 12%; and IT, 10%.

The survey found that younger expats were most likely of all age groups to move abroad in search of greater fulfillment at work. Twenty-two percent of expat millennials said they had moved in order to find purpose in their career.

Living and working abroad can help expats make faster progress toward achieving their longer-term financial goals. Forty percent of respondents said life abroad had helped them accelerate their saving for retirement, and 29% said they had been able to save toward their children’s education more quickly.

Living abroad also can make it easier for expats to buy property. Two-thirds of respondents owned property either at home or abroad, and 41% said expat life had sped up their progress toward buying their first or their next property.

Emerging economies offered more opportunities to start or grow a business, according to 44% of expat entrepreneurs, compared with 35% of expats living in developed economies.

Globally, 52% of expats agreed that their quality of life had improved since moving, and 61% said they were integrating well with the local people and culture.

As for education abroad, 62% of expat students said they believed their time overseas would improve their future job prospects.

HSBC said the higher costs of raising a family abroad could be offset by the extra benefits children were likely to experience. Sixty-two percent of expat parents acknowledged it was more expensive overall to raise their children abroad. At the same time, 88% of these rated their children’s quality of life as the same or better.

The 2016 report for the first time in its nine iterations explored the experience of expats living in cities around the world. Seventy-one percent of expats in London and New York said working there would improve their job prospects when they moved home or to another country. Meanwhile, 63% of expats said they felt safer in Toronto.

The Expat Explorer league table ranks each country or territory according to expats’ overall views of that destination.

HSBC gave each of the 45 countries in the table an overall score, which was an average of scores across three dimensions:

  • The economics table ranked each country on expats’ views about personal finances, the local economy and working life
  • The experience table ranked each one on expats’ views about the experience they had in their adopted country: lifestyle, people around them and ease of setting up
  • The family table ranked each one on expats’ views about the family aspects of living in their adopted country: relationships, education and child care, and the effects of raising children abroad

Following are the top 15 countries for expats working and living abroad in 2016, according to HSBC:

A cyclist passes the Rijksmuseum in the center of Amsterdam. (Photo: AP)

15. Netherlands

Overall score: 0.48

Economics

  • Rank: 9
  • Score: 0.53

Experience

  • Rank: 28
  • Score: 0.46

Family

  • Rank: 10
  • Score: 0.43

2015 rank: 12

Raohe Street Market in Taipei, Taiwan.

14. Taiwan

Overall score: 0.48

Economics

  • Rank: 24
  • Score: 0.45

Experience

  • Rank: 7
  • Score: 0.56

Family

  • Rank: 15
  • Score: 0.42

2015 rank: 8

Hong Kong

13. Hong Kong

Overall score: 0.48

Economics

  • Rank: 19
  • Score: 0.50

Experience

  • Rank: 12
  • Score: 0.53

Family

  • Rank: 18
  • Score: 0.41

2015 rank: 11

The courtyard of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Photo: AP)

12. United Arab Emirates

Overall score: 0.49

Economics

  • Rank: 5
  • Score: 0.58

Experience

  • Rank: 19
  • Score: 0.50

Family

  • Rank: 22
  • Score: 0.40

2015 rank: 9

Sydney Opera House. (Photo: AP)

11. Australia

Overall score: 0.50

Economics

  • Rank: 18
  • Score: 0.51

Experience

  • Rank: 5
  • Score: 0.59

Family

  • Rank: 20
  • Score: 0.40

2015 rank: 7

Schlossplatz Castle square in Stuttgart.

10. Germany

Overall score: 0.50

Economics

  • Rank: 3
  • Score: 0.60

Experience

  • Rank: 27
  • Score: 0.47

Family

  • Rank: 12
  • Score: 0.43

2015 rank: 5

The Manama souk, located just beyond Bab Al Bahrain. 

9. Bahrain

Overall score: 0.50

Economics

  • Rank: 17
  • Score: 0.51

Experience

  • Rank: 6
  • Score: 0.56

Family

  • Rank: 9
  • Score: 0.44

2015 rank: 4

The Harbor in Gamla Stan, Stockholm. 

8. Sweden

Overall score: 0.51

Economics

  • Rank: 6
  • Score: 0.56

Experience

  • Rank: 31
  • Score: 0.46

Family

  • Rank: 1
  • Score: 0.52

2015 rank: 3

Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg. (Photo: AP) 

7. Austria

Overall score: 0.51

Economics

  • Rank: 7
  • Score: 0.54

Experience

  • Rank: 16
  • Score: 0.51

Family

  • Rank: 6
  • Score: 0.48

2015 rank: New

Fishing village in Norway.

6. Norway

Overall score: 0.51

Economics

  • Rank: 4
  • Score: 0.58

Experience

  • Rank: 11
  • Score: 0.54

Family

  • Rank: 16
  • Score: 0.42

2015 rank: New

Streets of Zurich.

5. Switzerland

Overall score: 0.52

Economics

  • Rank: 1
  • Score: 0.66

Experience

  • Rank: 17
  • Score: 0.50

Family

  • Rank: 26
  • Score: 0.38

2015 rank: 10

The Charles Bridge in the Czech Republic. (Photo: AP) 

4. Czech Republic

Overall score: 0.53

Economics

  • Rank: 12
  • Score: 0.52

Experience

  • Rank: 8
  • Score: 0.55

Family

  • Rank: 2
  • Score: 0.51

2015 rank: 18

Toronto, Canada marina.

3. Canada

Overall score: 0.54

Economics

  • Rank: 10
  • Score: 0.53

Experience

  • Rank: 3
  • Score: 0.60

Family

  • Rank: 5
  • Score: 0.49

2015 rank: 6

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand.

2. New Zealand

Overall score: 0.55

Economics

  • Rank: 15
  • Score: 0.51

Experience

  • Rank: 1
  • Score: 0.64

Family

  • Rank: 4
  • Score: 0.50

2015 rank: 2

Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore.

1. Singapore

Overall score: 0.57

Economics

  • Rank: 2
  • Score: 0.61

Experience

  • Rank: 4
  • Score: 0.59

Family

  • Rank: 3
  • Score: 0.50

2015 rank: 1

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