Where are the most child-friendly countries to emigrate to?

25 February 2013

One Way Travel

HSBC Expat Banking service have conducted an Expat Explorer Survey, which is currently the largest global expat survey of its kind, with over 5, 000 expats answering questions relating to their finances, quality of life and what it’s like to raise children abroad.

They aimed some of their questions towards parents who have already made a big move abroad away from their home country, and may be thinking of moving on to another country again or staying put in their adopted country.

Naturally, parents with children are keen to relocate to a country which is child-friendly, where children are less at risk of social isolation and where they have a healthier outdoor lifestyle in general.

The survey also compiled a ‘Raising Children Abroad’ league table, the list of criteria by which countries were judged is as follows:

  1.  Safety of your children
  2. Quality of childcare
  3. Spending more time outdoors
  4. Playing more sports
  5. Watching less TV
  6. My children have settled in quicker than I have
  7. My children are enjoying their lives here
  8. My children are not missing home and their friends
  9. Standard of education available to your children
  10. Cost of raising children
  11. Spending more time with you
  12. Playing less video games
  13. My children are eating less junk food now
  14. Social integration of your children
  15. My children are learning new languages

The results make interesting reading, but aren’t really good news for parents who are still resident in the UK, as we languish in eighth place in the league table.  The location that comes out on top is Hong Kong, which is perhaps surprising, as it is not a traditional emigration hotspot for people leaving the UK.  However, the survey was carried out worldwide, so applies to emigrants living in all corners of the globe.  The country that came out in second place is less of a surprise as it is an established emigration destination favourite for people leaving the UK (especially families) – Australia.  It is of course renowned for its outdoor beach and sports lifestyle, and has the added bonus of being an English-speaking destination.  The country in third place is Canada, which is another country where English is widely spoken, and is also blessed with stunning scenery and wide-open spaces in many areas, promoting outdoor family living.

The appeal of Canada and Australia to parents who want their children to benefit from a life of fun and sport in the great outdoors is underlined by the statistics that 55% of parents in Australia and 40% in Canada believed their children were spending more time outdoors since moving to the country.  Allied to this, 40% who had relocated to Australia, believed that their offspring were playing more sports, and in Canada an even greater number (45%) report this to be the case. It seems that the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle extend beyond children though, as 31% of Australian expats and 25% of Canadian expats were happy to say that they were more active in sports themselves since their big move.

The overall league table combines responses to all of the criteria listed above and ranks countries accordingly:

The Raising Children Abroad league table:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Australia
  3. Canada
  4. Netherlands
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. United States
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. UK
  9. Kuwait

When parents were questioned, Canada proved a popular choice amongst expat parents, with one fifth (20%) of those living in the country saying that they would prefer to relocate elsewhere within the country rather than choose a new country or move back to their home country.  Canada was also highly regarded as a future child-friendly home by those in the USA (9%) and the UAE (12%).

Another high-flying country (Australia) was a favourite future location for parents in the Netherlands (10%), UK (10%) and Hong Kong (10%). Similarly to Canada, lots of parents already resident in Australia would choose to stay there (17%).

The only country that was selected as a potential expat location amongst expat parents (that doesn’t feature in this year’s Raising Children Abroad League Table) was Singapore.  This was often considered a strong contender for future relocation by those who are resident in Hong Kong (13%), perhaps because of its proximity and similar cultural values.

Children’s safety is obviously a prime concern for any parent considering a move to a new country, and Hong Kong is the winner in this respect, as a whopping 90% of expat parents believed that their child’s safety had improved since relocating. This is markedly higher than the average of 60% who feel that their child’s safety had improved post-emigration. This number isn’t matched by the amount of time that their children are spending out of doors though, as a relatively low 39% are spending more time outside post-move.  Nearly half (48%) of parents felt that they spent more time with their child in Hong Kong than they did before they arrived.

Again, the UK doesn’t fare well in terms of the perception of children’s safety, as only 34% of expat parents believed that their child’s safety had improved since moving to the UK and 26% actually feared that their children’s safety had worsened since moving.

If you are considering emigrating with your family anywhere around the world, specialist emigration or one-way insurance is available to offer invaluable pre-travel, travel and post-travel cover.  Why take chances with medical, belongings and cancellation cover at such a critical and potentially stressful time of your life? Find out how long you will be insured for – the best policies offer you options to be insured beyond the point where you pass through check-in at your new country, and allow you some valuable breathing space as you settle in.

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