The 5 Best Countries to Live and Work Abroad

Digital nomadism is no longer just a fad. Now, more than ever, significant numbers of people in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s are simultaneously traveling and working abroad or remotely. Every year, as part of its annual Expat Explorer initiative, HSBC bank polls more than 22,000 avid travelers to uncover their picks for the best places to do just that. Whether you need to make a radical change in your solo life or are looking to expatriate the entire family, here are the survey’s top five destinations for living and working abroad.


Singapore Skyline
Pakin Songmor/Getty Images

In the latest survey, Singapore remained in the top slot. It scored high marks in three of the most important categories: third in economics, fifth for families, and sixth in subjective experience. Reported earnings increased among a plurality of those surveyed. However, as with many Asian countries, working more than five days per week is typical which often results in a worse work-life balance. Social integration can be a problem for foreign travelers. Here, Singapore also ranks high with more than two-thirds noting they felt “settled-in” in less than a year and a full 95 percent confirming that locals were an essential part of their social circle.

New Zealand

lake tekapo, new zealand
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand ARUTTHAPHON POOLSAWASD/Getty Images

Like Iceland and Australia, New Zealand is a popular bucket-list destination among many travelers. It’s clean, beautiful, rugged, and locals are notoriously among the friendliest in the world. For all these reasons, the country again ranks in the survey’s No. 2 spot. Many expats consider improving their overall quality of life an important part of their decision on where to move. Those who do move to New Zealand confirm a much better quality of life, and more than half claim the country’s myriad adventure opportunities encouraged them to lead more active lives.


Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany Harald Nachtmann/Getty Images

Many of the same reasons that young travelers love New Zealand also apply to Germany. The country is clean, offers a wealth of outdoor opportunities, and it’s among the most stable economies in the world. We’re pretty sure the beer scene isn’t too bad either. With an average of just 26 hours per week, it boasts one of the lowest numbers of average work hours in the world. More than 70 percent of survey respondents confirmed a much better work-life balance after moving there.


Toronto, Canada
Toronto, Canada Radu Negrean/EyeEm/Getty Images

For many Americans, Canada has long offered a magnetic charm and simplicity (poutine is no doubt a large part of that draw). It turns out expats around the world agree which is why Canada remains in the survey’s No. 4 slot. The country is actively luring travelers to expatriate to the country — a full one million of them by 2020. Locals are known for their hospitality and graciousness which is perhaps why 70 percent of survey respondents said it was easy to make friends and build their social circle. More than half spend the majority of their free time with locals. Nearly 70 percent confirm that Canada is among the most liberal and welcoming countries for people of all races, colors, and creeds.


Manama, Bahrain
Manama, Bahrain Husain Abbas/Getty Images

Bahrain is the only newcomer to the survey’s elite top five. The tiny archipelago in the Arabian Gulf might be small and impossible for most Westerners to locate on a map, but it’s actually one of the most modern and stable financial centers in the world. HSBC claims that it’s overtaken Hong Kong as a powerhouse of industry, banking, and tourism. For digital nomads, it’s worth noting the population is young, mostly English-speaking, and incredibly friendly. Nearly half its residents are immigrants so, should you decide to expatriate there, you certainly won’t be alone.

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