Where should you move with your family, and why?

  • Moving abroad with family
Published 11 months ago

It can be hard to decide whether to uproot your family and start over somewhere new. HSBC's Expat Explorer report has revealed a wealth of information about living abroad by surveying expats around the world, including parents. We take a look at the results for families, including which countries expats feel are the best for their children and what benefits they feel they have gained by moving abroad.

Nisha Sawon

Editorial staff

The best destinations

In order to find the best destinations for families, the survey considered how good a country is for an expat's relationships, for children's education and care, and how good the country is for raising children in general. As an expat, this (along with the obvious financial implications) will likely be your main concern when moving abroad with your family.

Sweden came out on top in the overall rankings, which may not be all that surprising considering it often features near the top of international happiness and quality of life rankings. This was also apparent thanks to three quarters of parents surveyed in Sweden reporting that their child's quality of life had improved. The Czech Republic came in second, taking top marks for the high quality of education and childcare available to expats in the country, with 64% of expats stating the quality was better than that of their home country.

Singapore came in third (which will be welcome news for parents moving to the popular business destination), followed by New Zealand in fourth. However, New Zealand came in first when it came to expats' views on raising children in the country, with 44% (over 10% above the global average) reporting that their children found it easier to make friends in New Zealand in comparison to their previous country of residence.

Advantages of raising your family abroad

When weighing up the pros and cons of moving your family abroad, you may find that, initially, the cons outweigh the pros. For example, the idea of disrupting your child's education or taking them to a country where they don't know the language may give you pause for thought. However, it seems that there are notable long-term benefits, despite the higher financial cost of life abroad as an expat family (62% of expat parents considered it more costly to raise their children abroad).

The fact that 88% of expat parents who moved abroad with their children considered their children's quality of life to have improved should lay to rest nagging doubts about long-term impacts of the move. Furthermore, 69% noted that their children were more open to new experiences and culture as a result of living abroad. Of course, the destination itself and the age of the children at the time of the move will have an impact on how well they adapt to a new environment, however it is still telling that the majority of parents viewed the move as having an overall positive impact.

In terms of childcare and education, 43% of expat parents overall considered the standard available to be higher in their host country than their home country. This may not be as high as family-friendly Sweden, however it is still a considerate amount. However, this is unlikely to be true across every nation, so it is always worth trying to get as much information about the destination as possible from expats already in the country or by asking questions online in expat forums.

Another benefit identified by 59% parents living abroad is their child's ability to become an advanced or fluent speaker of an additional language. This was particularly true of expat parents in France, Germany and Belgium, which may not be all too surprising given the wide usage of several European languages.

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