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Living the life

Released at: 21:18, 05/11/2014

Living the life

Vietnam ranks second in attracting challenge-seeking expats in Asia, according to latest survey conducted by HSBC Expat.

Expat life in Vietnam is all about travelling, challenging yourself, and having a good time, according to the 2014 HSBC Expat Explorer survey released in October, as lower prices help expats to make the most of their earnings.

While expats in Vietnam are no more likely to see an increase in their wages than those in any other country, with 52 per cent saying they earn more than they would have at home compared with a global average of 53 per cent, their disposable income shoots up with lower prices for everything from transport to entertainment. Overall, three-quarters of expats in Vietnam (75 per cent) say their disposable income increased once they moved compared with a global average of just 53 per cent.

Regionally, expats in Thailand and Vietnam point out how cost-effective it is to live in these destinations, with many saying that the countries offer much better value than home, according to the HSBC Expat Explorer survey. The expat opinion of Thailand has not shifted particularly from last year’s survey, underlining the fact that the Far East continues to be a magnet for expats in search of cost-effective adventure. This year, around two-thirds of expats say that they associate Thailand and Vietnam with a higher quality of life (69 per cent and 62 per cent respectively), with many also commenting on the comparatively higher levels of disposable income (72 per cent and 75 per cent respectively).

That money is put to good use, however, with just over half (52 per cent) of Vietnam-based expats moving there to experience a new challenge (compared with a global average of 31 per cent). In addition, nearly eight in ten (79 per cent) expats in the country agree that they travel more than they did at home (compared with a global average of 58 per cent). With some of the cheapest public transport in our survey (61 per cent noted cheaper forms of public transport than at home compared with a global average of 35 per cent), there’s no reason not to explore the whole country. 

A common tip from expats who took part in our survey is to soak up the Lunar New Year festival, or Tet, and with a large majority (89 per cent) of expats saying they enjoy the local culture generally (compared to a global average of 83 per cent), Vietnam has a lot to offer the adventurous expat.  

The local cuisine is another stand out part of life in Vietnam, with 87 per cent saying they enjoy the country’s fare compared to 72 per cent globally. With some of the cheapest groceries in the world (54 per cent of expats in Vietnam say they spent less on their groceries since moving compared to a global average of just 22 per cent), it’s no surprise that 80 per cent of expats say they got used to Vietnam’s local food quickly (compared to a global average of 73 per cent).  

But it’s not just about a good night out. Expats in Thailand and Vietnam are among those most likely to find that they are travelling more since becoming an expat, making the most of small islands nearby and transport links to other parts of the east: particularly so in Vietnam, where eight in ten expats agree (79 per cent), just above Thailand (68 per cent), and significantly higher than the global average of 58 per cent.

“Eat the local food and enjoy domestic travel. It’s cheap and easy to get around the country.” 

Expat in Vietnam

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of Vietnam-based expats found it easy to make friends (compared with a global average of 54 per cent) and the same proportion said the local people were overwhelmingly friendly (compared to an average of just 48 per cent). It’s unsurprising therefore that Vietnam is the third best place to go for expats looking to improve their quality of life, with 62 per cent saying they strongly associate the country with a high quality of life compared to only 46 per cent globally.

The most affordable places to live are also some of the most rewarding, according to the HSBC Expat Expenses league table. In Asia, over six in ten (65 per cent) expats see their disposable income increase, with more expats rating the country highly for quality of life (50 per cent) than either Europe (37 per cent) or the Middle East (48 per cent). China is the best place for expats looking to make their money go further, with more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of expats in the country experiencing a growth in their spending power once they moved. The Asian countries and territories of Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan round out the top of our table, driven by lower spend on utilities, groceries and accommodation.

The HSBC Expat Explorer survey was completed by 9,288 expats from over 100 countries through an online questionnaire, conducted by YouGov on behalf of HSBC Expat, in April and May 2014. A minimum sample of 100 expat respondents including at least 30 expat parents is required for a country to be included in the Expat Explorer league table. This year, 34 countries qualified for the league table. The Expat Explorer league table ranks each country using a score that summarises expats’ overall impression of the country. The Expat Explorer score is the average of the Expat Economics, Expat Experience, and Raising Children Abroad scores, covering 43 different criteria from the survey. Countries are scored on a scale of zero to one, with the highest score ranking first and the lowest ranking last. All scores have been rounded to two decimal points.

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