Unveiling 2024's top-paying destinations for expatriates

Expat news
  • salaire
Published on 2024-01-03 at 11:00 by Asaël Häzaq
Which are the most attractive and favorable countries for expats in 2024? Although salary isn't the only factor determining expatriation decisions, it does play a crucial role, particularly in the face of ongoing inflation that is pushing up the cost of living. What are your options if you intend to grow your career overseas?

Which are the highest-paying countries in the world?

According to a recent study by Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA) International, a specialized agency in international mobility, the highest salaries in 2024 will likely be offered in the Asia-Pacific region. This region was already leading in 2023, experiencing an average salary increase of +1.8%. The growth is expected to be even higher this year, with an estimated +2.2%. North and South America are the only regions catching up with Asia-Pacific, with salaries expected to rise by 2% in 2024, compared to just 0.1% this year. On the other hand, there will be a noticeable slowdown in Africa/Middle East and Europe, although these regions are expected to catch up in 2024. Salaries in Africa and the Middle East should recover to +0.8% after a 1.2% decline last year. Europe, experiencing a steeper decline (-1.9% in 2023), is expected to rebound slightly more (+0.9%).

Outlook for high salaries in Asia-Pacific

India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan are your best options. With wage increases ranging from 5.1% (India) to 2.2% (South Korea), these countries stand out in the entire region. However, be cautious of inflation. In Hong Kong, wages have increased by around 3% in 2023, and a similar increase is anticipated this year. Nevertheless, Hong Kong is grappling with rising inflation and eroding purchasing power. Real wage growth is expected to decrease to 1.7% in 2024.

How about China? The consequences of the zero-Covid policy are still being felt, and the country has lost its attractiveness in the eyes of expatriates. While the international media no longer highlights an "expat exodus" (as it did in 2022), it's worth noting that foreign workers were already departing the country before the onset of COVID-19. The health crisis has, however, amplified the phenomenon. Even with the end of the zero-Covid approach and the reopening of borders, the departed expat have not returned to China. Instead, they turned to other destinations like Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Can rising wages help reconcile expats with China? With a rise of approximately 5.3% until now, there's a good possibility they might reach +5.8% later in 2024. Another positive point is the low inflation rate, hovering around 0.7% in 2023 and forecasted at 1.7% in 2024. China's inflation rate is among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region.

The highest-paying sectors around the world

In the race to attract foreign talent, countries are naturally relying on their business landscape. In 2024, tech, information and communication technologies (ICT), IT, banking, renewable energies, and healthcare remain the most popular sectors. Professions related to artificial intelligence (AI) are making a notable entry and will become even more important in the coming years. Engineering jobs with a focus on AI and machine learning are among the most in demand. Additionally, there is an increasing demand for professionals in robotics, natural language processing (NLP), Big Data, and ethical AI.

Legal professionals specializing in AI are just as essential. Following the example of the USA, which, in late October, issued an executive order to regulate the use of AI, other nations are also taking measures to regulate AI, especially generative AI. In early December, the European Union (EU) member states reached an agreement to regulate AI, particularly those interacting with humans. Last November, 18 countries, including the USA, Japan, France, and Germany, signed a non-binding agreement aimed at making AI safer. These are reforms that companies need to swiftly incorporate to grow, underscoring the significance of legal specialists in this domain.

High wages and cost of living 

It's impossible to separate wages, no matter how high, from the cost of living and a country's economic situation. Following the example of Hong Kong, where wages are rising but being overtaken by inflation, China is struggling with nearly zero inflation, undermining growth. In October, inflation dropped to -0.2%, marking the second time in 2023 (according to figures from the State Bureau of Statistics) that China is experiencing deflation, indicating that consumption in the country is nearly stagnant. At first glance, deflation might appear positive for the people of China.

Despite price drops and an increase in purchasing power, consumption in China is not showing signs of improvement. Instead, people tend to save for even bigger price cuts. Weak demand doesn't provide sufficient motivation for companies to ramp up production. Low production levels can lead to layoffs, potentially harming overall economic growth. Acknowledging this issue, Beijing has implemented a stimulus policy. Additionally, China is dealing with a real estate crisis that worsened in September. Despite these concerns, the IMF has raised its growth forecasts for China, now expecting a growth rate of +4.6% in 2024, up from the previously estimated +4.2%.

Understanding the current context in your expat country is, therefore, essential for estimating your cost of living and purchasing power. Projections of high salaries can vary from one country to another and are often specific to particular sectors (considering qualifications, required experience, etc.). A country known for offering generous salaries may not extend the same benefits to all professional sectors, and this can also vary depending on the specific company. Therefore, it's vital to consider other factors when selecting your next destination in 2024.

Useful links: 

Work in Hong Kong

Work in China

Work in Malaysia