Why Foreign Expats Still See Opportunity in the U.S.

The United States is still the land of opportunity, if only for some.

Folks from other countries who moved to San Francisco and Boston for work say the U.S. is the best nation in the world for entrepreneurial opportunities. According to a survey of expats by financial firm HSBC, most expatriate workers in San Francisco (68%) and Boston (67%) agree that the United States offers an ideal environment to start a business. That’s the good news. The bad news is that just 56% of expats who feel the same nationwide and only 38% of expats around the globe agree. The really bad news is that the U.S. ranks No. 30 out of 45 potential global destinations for expats overall.

Even those with glowing reviews of U.S. opportunity view it through a far different lens than their counterparts. The technology sector accounts for 37% and 29% of expat jobs in San Francisco and Boston, respectively, in contrast to 10% around the globe. Expats in the two cities are also more likely to own a business: 17% compared to the global average of 11%.

Overall, 60% of expats surveyed in the U.S. believe they have a better chance of obtaining new skills versus what is possible in their home country and also reported the sixth highest gross personal income globally at approximately $130,000. However, just 43% of expats in the United States report an increase in quality of life, compared to a global average of 52%. For example, 59% of expats living in Sydney feel they are more active than they were at home, while 63% in Toronto feel safer. Singapore, meanwhile, tops the global wish list as 62% of expats report an increase in financial earnings, while benefiting from an excellent quality of life and a safe, family-friendly environment. A full 75% say the quality of education in Singapore is better than at home, the highest proportion in the world.