Vietnam losing its charm among expats: HSBC survey

By Vi Vu   September 27, 2017 | 02:55 am PT
Vietnam losing its charm among expats: HSBC survey
A foreigner teaches English for children in Vietnam. File photo
Only 28 percent of expats in Vietnam agree they enjoy a better overall quality of life than in their home countries.

Problems with healthcare, culture and finance are making Vietnam a less favorable second home for foreigners, according to HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer survey.

The country ranked 30th out of 46 countries this year, a drop of 11 places from last year’s list and falling further back from the 25th position it reached in 2015.

According to the survey, the average income for expats in Vietnam has dropped by 14.5 percent from last year to $88,096, which is lower than the global level. Vietnamese earned $2,200 on average last year.

Although almost half of expats in Vietnam agree that the country is a good place to progress their careers and two-thirds feel confident in the Vietnamese economy, not many are happy with life here in general.

Only 28 percent of expats in Vietnam said that they enjoy a better overall quality of life, compared to the global rate of 52 percent.

Starting life in Vietnam, three quarters of expats experienced difficulties organizing bank accounts, insurance and taxes, while more than two thirds said they'd had problems with healthcare issues such as seeing a local doctor or taking out insurance.

Also, only just over a quarter of expat parents agreed that the quality of child care in Vietnam is better than that in their home country, compared to the global average of 43 percent, the survey found.

Only 18 percent of expats own property in Vietnam, which is half the global average. Vietnam opened its real estate market to foreigners in July 2015, but many people say the procedures are still cumbersome and that it's easier to register property in a Vietnamese spouse's name, if they have one.

There are around 82,000 foreigners living and working in Vietnam.

Most move to the country to find a new challenge while 28 percent said they come to improve their quality of life.

Sabbir Ahmed, head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC Vietnam, said that the survey suggests areas for improvement to make Vietnam more attractive to expats.

“It is clear that expats expect a better early experience in organizing their finances and healthcare, as well as an advantageous environment to bring up their children,” he said in a statement.

Now in its 10th year, Expat Explorer is the world’s longest running surveys of expats. This year, it questioned 27,587 expats from 159 countries and territories online in March and April.

Singapore remains the best country for expats, with Norway, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Austria and the UAE filling up the top 10.

But the best place for making money is Switzerland, where an expat can earn on average $193,006 a year, almost double the global average.

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