The 20 best places to live overseas

Expat Explorer 2015 mapHSBCA map of the most attractive countries for expats. Size corresponds to ranking.

Tired of your old job? Looking for a new environment? There are many reasons to leave your home country in search of greener pastures, but picking where to go can be an overwhelming decision. Job opportunities, salary, quality of life, safety, and childcare are just a few of the factors to consider.

For those looking to make the move, HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer survey is an excellent resource. The survey ranks the top countries based on experience, economics, and raising children abroad, with subcategories for each group — and a lot can change in a year.

Last year’s number one, Switzerland, dropped to 10, India jumped way back from nine to 17, and new countries entered the top 20 ranking.

Keep scrolling to see which countries stole the top spots, and maybe find a place to make a fresh start.

Harisson Jacobs contributed to an earlier version of this post.

20. Malaysia

Adventurous and social expats are likely to head to Malaysia. Sixty-three per cent say their greater disposable income and better work/life balance give them time and money for a social life.

Those who make the move seem to love it, with expats in Malaysia scoring highly for making friends.

The country is only middle of the pack, however, in economic measures and raising children abroad. The quality of childcare is not good, but 60% of parents do feel the overall quality of life is better for their children.

15. Russia

Russia seems like a fun place to live, with high scores for entertainment, work-life balance, social life, making local friends (first!), and more.

Despite high salaries, the cost of living in Russia is expensive. The quality of childcare and education is good but, again, expensive -- the country ranks second in school quality.

HSBC recommends putting forth an effort to learn the language and the Cyrillian alphabet to better acclimate yourself.

11. Hong Kong

Phaitoon Sutunyawatchai /

Hong Kong is fairly independent from mainland China and maintains its own currency and set of laws. Expats tend to have high salaries and large amounts of disposable income, and it's ranked first for career progression.

In addition, there's a thriving social scene for expats (third for social life!), and 65% enjoy the local cuisine.

Expats may have to get used to less space than they had at home, though. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive and densely populated cities in the world. Expats also have to work very hard here, as the work-life balance swings more toward work.

9. United Arab Emirates

The UAE continues to offer many high-paying jobs for expats, with an average salary of over $US124,000. While there is a high cost of living, the quality of life is solid, with plenty of delicious restaurants and world-famous shopping malls.

Expat children are not permitted to attend public schools, but there are various international schools. Unfortunately, space is limited, forcing parents to start the enrollment process early.

The culture is dramatically different from the west. Islamic traditions and ideals make the country very conservative, with strict rules for public conduct. The language is difficult for many expats, who have trouble making local friends and integrating into the community.

8. Taiwan

HSBC sums it up succinctly: 'Taiwan has a lot to offer expats -- a vibrant culture, sparkling seas, and a cosmopolitan capital.'

Taiwan stands out for how well expats integrate into local life and how much they enjoy the culture, including the country's famous night markets and celebrations such as the Lunar New Year and Ghost Festival. Seventy per cent of expats are satisfied with their social life here.

Expats were most unhappy with the country's work-life balance, school quality, and childcare.

7. Australia

Getty Images/Michael Dunning

Australia scores high in assimilation, work-life balance, and other experiential aspects. These more than make up for the decent economic scores and a few other downsides, like its expensive cost of living and the quality of childcare.

Expats enjoy a relaxed and often informal work atmosphere, but respect and professionalism are still practiced.

4. Bahrain

Robert Johnson — Business Insider

According to HSBC, 'People are drawn to Bahrain for its exciting career prospects and laid-back lifestyle.' The country is ideal for expats looking to submerge themselves into the culture, ranking seventh for making new friends.

Bahrain ranks seventh in experience and eighth in economics. The country comes in at third place in both disposable income and work/life balance. It's also a great place for families, with 54% of expats saying the quality of life for their children is better.

2. New Zealand

Tourism New Zealand

New Zealand has a relatively low crime rate, according to the US State Department, and HSBC named it the best place for bringing up confident, well-rounded kids.

Ranked number one for experience, the government seems eager to recruit expats. Seventy-seven per cent of expats feel their quality of life is better in New Zealand, earning it a gold for the category.

What keeps it at No. 2 is its economics. New Zealand ranked low for expat disposable income and wage growth.

1. Singapore

surassawadee /

Ranking second in economics and third in both experience and family, Singapore is the most desirable place for expats. 'One of the cleanest and safest cities in the world, Singapore is a multicultural hub that's worked hard to earn its place among the thriving Asian Tiger economies,' HSBC declares.

The country is ranked first in school quality. In fact, in 2012, British education minister Michael Gove suggested that Britain adopt a similar system to Singapore's.

But to make it in Singapore, you have to be career-driven; the country scored extremely low for work-life balance. And while 65% have more disposable income, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities.

Another uncomfortable aspect is the government's control of local media.

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