Sunday, November 29, 2009

Expats fall in love with Thailand but not the language

If you are an expatriate, Thailand is the best country to find love - however, it's also one of the hardest places for learning the local language.

Canada, Australia and Thailand are regarded by expatriates as the premier places in the world to live and love, according to the second annual expatriate experience survey by HSBC Bank International.

Canada has the best quality of life and is among the easiest places in the world to integrate with the local population, according to the survey of 3,146 people working in 30 different industries and 50 countries. Australia and Thailand come next on the list.

One in five expats has found love, with Thailand being the most likely place to fall in love followed by Germany and Brazil. Almost half of Thailand's expats say that they have found love.

Asia emerged as the place to go for making friends, with Thailand ranked first, followed by Vietnam, Hong Kong and Malaysia. More than half of the expats questioned in the survey - 58 per cent - have lived abroad for more than five years.

The top three countries for settling down are South Africa, Thailand and Canada, where expats have lived for more than five years.

The survey found that for expats, a higher income does not necessarily mean a better quality of life, said Alan Smith, head of international wealth management for HSBC.

Those earning less are also more likely to find love, with expats earning under US$60,000 (1.9 million baht) more likely to find love abroad than any other group. Similarly, expats over the age of 55 will have a greater chance of finding their life partner - one in four expats around the world aged 55 and over have found love or a life partner while living abroad.

Expats living in English-speaking countries have less trouble with language barriers, regardless of their origins. Learning the local language remains the biggest expat challenge of all.

While Thailand is seen as the easiest place to make friends, it is ranked 26th for ease of learning the local language.

For ease in finding a school, Thailand comes fourth; organising finances, 11th. For arranging healthcare, it is ranked second; finding somewhere to live, first. For setting up utilities, 9th; making local friends, 16th; and arranging accommodation, second.

Last year Germany, Canada and Spain were the top three countries deemed to have the best lifestyle for expats.

In another online survey, the British rated Thailand their No.1 holiday destination of 10 countries.

A total of 1,241 Britons responded to the survey, which polled 24,000 people around the world.

Thailand scooped 25% of British votes and the United States 11% but France came last, scoring a miserable 2%.

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