By SUNIL RAO
How do foreigners who’re living and working in Canada view their lives here?
In a nutshell: we’re lousy for jobs, middling for overall living, and — wait for it — the very best for raising kids.
Those are some of the key country findings for Canada from the latest The Expat Explorer Survey, conducted annually by ‘the global bank’ HSBC.
For the last five years HSBC Expat has commissioned The Expat Explorer Survey, possibly the largest survey of expatriates around the world. This year more than 5,300 expats were surveyed from 100 countries across the globe, making it the largest ever sample to date.
The findings are important since they provide an indicator to policymakers on how prospective immigrants — and not necessarily only those seeking to live the expat life — view Canada.
Interestingly, the survey also looked at the expat’s life in India vis a vis Canada — and here, it found the jobs scene far better in the sunny subcontinent than in The True North.
But of course, India fell short on issues concerning day-to-day living.
Reverting to Canada, the survey ranked us:
• 1st out of 9 on the Raising Children Abroad ranking;
• 14th out of 30 on overall Expat Experience ranking; and
• 23rd out of 30 on the Expat Economics (or jobs) ranking.
It indicated that our open spaces and more time spent outdoors made us the top place to raise a child. Forty per cent of expat parents said their children are now spending more time outdoors and 45 per cent of parents stated their children are now spending more time playing sport.
The findings also filter down to the parents themselves, with a quarter (25 per cent) saying they were more active in sport since moving.
There were several more broad findings on Canada.
• ACCOMMODATION: The survey found accommodation on the whole is of a higher standard and easier to find and organize.
Nearly half of Canada-based expats (48 per cent) agreed their accommodation is of a higher standard than in their home country, and fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) said finding accommodation was difficult.
• HEALTHCARE, STANDING OF LIVING: Canada was also praised for its excellent healthcare, high personal security and generally healthier diet.
There is also a strong sense of community and friendship in Canada: 62 per cent of expats praised the friendliness of locals, which explains why expats tend to spend more time with locals than with other expats.
Integration levels were also very high, with 70 per cent of expats feeling they have integrated.
• NO GAIN WITHOUT PAIN: From an economic perspective, despite falling into the bottom quartile of the Expat Economics league table, the benefits associated with better accommodation and environment to bring up children made the expats willing to take a smaller salary than they might have earned elsewhere.
But soberingly — and a point our policymakers might want to consider for the future — only two in five expats (43 per cent) said they are earning more, compared to 56 per cent worldwide.
• HERE FOR KEEPS? Canada also performs favourably as a retirement destination. A quarter of expats (25 per cernt) are retired while 52 per cent said that they want to retire to Canada
It isn’t just retirees who are hanging around — 55 per cent of all expats plan to stay in Canada, compared to the global average of 38 per cent.
• THE BIGGER PICTURE: At the global level, the survey found Singapore home to the wealthiest expats, with Asian countries in general topping charts for increased earnings. And, despite the outlook again improving, many Middle Eastern expats only plan a short term stay.
On Europe the picture is very mixed, with Spain feeling the pain most acutely and a sizeable number of Spaniards mulling leaving their shores for greener pastures, while at the other end of the spectrum Germans still expectedly feeling their homeland continued to offer more opportunities.
“Despite some of the pressures expats are facing across the globe, financially-minded expats are taking the right precautions to ride out periods of uncertainty and are able to spot the right opportunities to help them weather the storms to advance their careers,” said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat.
For further details visit www.expatexplorer.hsbc.com
By SUNIL RAO