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Cheapest and most expensive expatriate countries

A new report published by global mobility group ECA International has revealed the most expensive – and the cheapest – countries for expats in today’s economic environment.

MyExpatriate Market Pay report

The group’s report analyses each country in terms of accommodation, taxes, utilities, education, cars and more in a bid to provide data to multinational companies who employ expat workers. This data enables these companies to assess management pay structures and set expatriation packages appropriately in the marketplace. However, it also provides an interesting oversight of the general costs of living and working in different countries for those who might be interested in moving abroad.

By region, the latest report suggests that Europe is becoming increasingly attractive in terms of being a relatively low-cost option for expats and businesses with international workforces. The cost of companies employing expat staff in Europe is falling and the tax outlook is improving in many nations. For example, Italy is now the cheapest European country ranked in the report, due to the specific expatriate tax concessions it has begun offering. Meanwhile, countries in Asia continue to rank among the most expensive destinations for employers, with Japan, India, China and Hong Kong all ranking in the top five. The report also notes that higher cash salaries tend to account for most of the average annual rise in pay packages in North and South America, while the Middle East continues to offer expat workers some of the highest salaries available. Specifically, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offer the most attractive pay packets to workers, while employer’s costs are also cheapest in these countries.

However, the report notes that this is largely because taxes are not paid as part of expatriate packages in these counties, as they are in the majority of the world’s ‘top 40’ financial hubs, such as Singapore and the UK. Interestingly, the UK – which has long held the crown of “most expensive expatriate country” among the top 40 – has been knocked off the top spot by Japan in the latest report. The news comes after the ECA found that middle management expatriate pay packages have fallen by an average of $40,000 (£29,800) since the last survey.

“Over the past few years, we have seen a steady drop in pay package values for expat workers in the UK when compared in US dollars internationally,” said Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International.

“The fall in the value of the British pound after Brexit has made it cheaper to send staff to the UK from abroad, resulting in Japan replacing the UK as the most expensive location to send staff.”

Interested? Request the group’s report in full here. 

For more information about the insurance Healthcare International can provide to anyone making a long-term or permanent move abroad, please contact us.