In Focus
HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Average expat income fell 15% to US$117,904 in 2017

From being the fourth highest paid expats in the world, Singapore expats are now tenth in the rankings.

The personal income of expats in Singapore dropped 15% from US$138,641 to US$117,904 in 2017, HSBC revealed. It also slid down the rankings of the world's highest expat salaries from fourth place in 2016 to 10th place in 2017.

According to its Expat Explorer survey, however, 60% of expats in Singapore said they could save more money than they could at home in 2016. In 2017, that has increased to 65%. Morover, in 2016, 62% of expats living in Singapore said they were earning more than they would in their home country. In 2017, this had risen to 73%.

In comparison, the highest-earning expats for two years running are those in Switzerland, who earned US$193,006 in 2017, up from US$188,275 in 2016. Expats in India earned US$176,408, the second highest, whilst expats in China earned US$170,970, the third highest.

"We don’t ask questions around changes in salaries, and there might be any number of reasons for the difference that we can’t speculate on," an HSBC spokesperson said in an interview.

Previous findings of the survey revealed Singapore is the best country for expats, but across HSBC's league tables, it was defeated by other countries. In the overall economics league table, Singapore ranked second with a score of 0.61 in 2016. In 2017, its score improved to 0.64, but it fell to fourth place. The rankings are based on questions on an expat’s personal finances, views on the local economy, and their working life.

In the rankings for personal finances, Singapore was in eighth place in 2016 and then it jumped to seventh place in 2017. The Personal Finances line summarises earning prospects, level of disposable income and levels of savings.

Whilst expats may seem attracted to higher salaries in other countries may seem attractive, those in Singapore want to stay in the country for its strong economy and track record for families.

Three-quarters of expats (73%) say the country offers better earnings potential than their home country. Indeed, they report a 42% increase in their annual income since the move to an average of almost US$118,000. This figure is US$18,000 higher than the average expat income globally and US$3,000 higher regionally

Not only that, but expats in Singapore are also very confident in the strength of the local economy (73%) and Singapore’s political climate (83%).

In 2016, expats in Singapore were more compelled to stay due to security in the country.

More than four in five (84%) expats in Singapore say they feel safer than they did at home, more than in any other country and above the expat global average of 52%. Nearly three quarters (73%) of expats in the country feel confident about the local economy, compared with 52% globally. Almost nine in 10 (89%) feel confident about Singapore’s political stability, compared with the global average of 51%.

On average, expats in Singapore earn US$139,000 which is significantly higher than the global average of USD97,000. Expats in the country can also enjoy benefit packages from their employers, with 73% of expats receiving at least one benefit as part of their contract, compared with 67% globally

Moreover, 56% of expats in Singapore said living in the country has helped them to save faster for their retirement, compared with 40% globally. 

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