Now in its fifth year, HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey researches expats’ views on the countries in which they live in terms of financial opportunity and the lifestyle it offers. Singapore was ranked first, followed by Thailand and the Cayman Islands.
Malaysia came in at 8th place. When comparing Malaysia with Singapore, we fall somewhat behind in terms of the financials (particularly income levels), but in terms of lifestyle, the two countries are neck and neck. We did better in terms of quality of accommodation, cars, and making local friends. The latter finding is not surprising as Malaysians have always been considered more open and friendly to foreigners than their southern neighbours.
One result which lowered Malaysia’s rating was whether expats could speak the local language. Expats in Singapore said they could, whereas only a few expats living here responded affirmatively. This result is a bit misleading because, in fact, expats in both countries can converse with most locals in English. Clearly, expats in Malaysia understand that Malay is the official language here, whereas expats in Singapore regard the local language as English. (It is, in fact, one of four official languages in Singapore.)
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