Mumbai tops global rankings for expat salaries, according to the latest HSBC Expat Explorer survey. In fact, for expats looking for high earnings, east is the direction to travel, with Asian cities making up four of the top 10 when it comes to the largest expat pay cheques. Mumbai is home to the highest-paid expats in the survey, earning an average annual income of $217,165, compared with the global average of $99,903. Shanghai comes fourth with an average expat income of $202,211, Jakarta eighth at $152,589 and Hong Kong ninth at $148,410.
Cities that offer high expat wages, however, are often associated with high living costs, and just 17% of urban expats say their city is an affordable place to live. No city has higher disposable income than Zurich, however, with 77% of expats saying their disposable income has increased since moving.
Against a backdrop of extensive economic reforms, expats in India report high levels of confidence in the local economy (75% compared with 53% globally). It is interesting to note that 44% of expats in India were sent by their employer vis-à-vis global average of 13%. It is the first reason why expats move to Mumbai.
The survey, which looks at the range of factors expats consider when deciding on their move abroad, found that expats in San Francisco are the most likely in the world to say their city offers fantastic job opportunities, followed by London, New York, Dublin and Birmingham.
Top cities for expat job opportunities
1. San Francisco: With a booming economy and leading position in the tech world, San Francisco, home to Silicon Valley, has the second highest proportion of expats working in the technology sector in the HSBC survey (behind Dublin). The majority (57%) of expats in San Francisco rate it as having fantastic job opportunities – well above the global average of 25% – making it the top-scoring city in the survey. Although being an expensive city, with no respondents describing it as affordable, San Francisco offers the second highest average expat income in the world at $207,227, which allows expats to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
2. London: Closely following San Francisco as a city famous for being a magnet for international talent, is London. Nearly half (49%) of expats cite excellent job opportunities in the UK’s capital as one of the top three things the city offers. Despite the cost of living in London being high, with only 1% of expats citing it as affordable, expat salaries are above the global average ($99,903) at $107,863.
3. New York: In New York, the home of Wall Street is a big draw for talented financial services professionals. A third (32%) of New York expats surveyed work in financial services, the third highest proportion to work in that sector worldwide. Despite the great job opportunities and an average income of $182,240, the fast-paced professional life has trade-offs. Only 40% of expats here are more physically active than they were in their home country compared to 55% in San Francisco.
4. Dublin: Dublin comes fourth for expat job opportunities in the survey, suggesting that the European home of international tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon is attracting some of the world’s brightest international talent. In fact, 39% of the expats surveyed here work in technology, the highest proportion worldwide.
Despite the stature of the tech companies based in Dublin, expat salaries come in slightly below the global average with expats in Dublin earning on average $91,419.
5. Birmingham: Not only do expats say that Birmingham is good for their career, they also say that their money goes further there. Although expats in Birmingham earn on average $61,950 ($37,953 below the global average), more than half (51%) praise its affordable cost of living. As a result, 57% of expats in the city enjoy more disposable income than they did at home.