South Africa has lost its sheen as a popular destination for expats, with the country’s relative placement on the HSBC Expat Explorer Index dropping to the worst position since being first featured in 2013.
The index is based on an annual survey, which focuses on the experiences of expats in their new country of residence. The overall league table ranks each country using a score that summarises expats’ overall impression of the country.
In 2017, South Africa ranked 33rd out of 46 countries ranked – however the 2018 ranking only covers 31 countries, with South Africa now ranked 3rd-worst at 29th.
In the 2016 index, 45 countries were assessed, with South Africa ranking 33rd – down from 32nd in 2015, and from 22nd in 2014 (out of 34 countries). In 2013, South Africa was ranked 15th out of 37 countries.
On a like-for-like basis, South Africa dropped from 25th out of the 31 countries in 2017.
The HSBC survey asks expats to assess their current country of residence across 27 indicators in three categories.
The economics category ranks each country using a score that summarises expats’ views on things like personal finance, the local economy and working life, while the experience category looks at things like lifestyle, the people in new countries and what it takes to get set up.
The final category – family – focuses on education and other quality of life factors that would affect the well-being of having raising a family in the new country.
South Africa’s best performance was in the experience field (21st), while economics was the poorest indicator (28th).
The only standout indicator was the healthcare experience in the country (3rd best overall), presumably a reflection of the country’s private healthcare system which is most likely to be accessed by expats.
However, the safety and security indicator was ranked as the worst among all countries ranked (31st).
South Africa also performed poorly in economic confidence (30th), reflecting the poor state of the country’s economy over the past year, and in politics (29th), reflecting uncertainty in political moves and policies.
Singapore topped the list for the fifth time in the row, carrying the overall highest score for expat quality of life. While the Asian nation did not top the ranking in any of three main indices (for economics, experience and family), it still earned the highest score.
Behind Singapore was New Zealand, Germany, Canada and tBahrain rounding out the top five – with Norway and The Netherlands (2nd and 5th in 2017) not being among the countries ranked in 2018.