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New HSBC research shows offshore grass not always greener for young travellers

  • It takes around nine months on average to feel settled when relocating to Australia, according to HSBC’s latest  research, but for a quarter (26%) of those surveyed it took over a year. 
  • While a majority (68%) of respondents aged 35 to 64 feel a sense of belonging in their new location, only around  half (55%) of Gen Z respondents (those aged 18-24) feel this way. 
  • Locations where respondents felt they settled fastest include the United Arab Emirates (40%), and India (36%),  while in Australia only 25% of international citizens felt settled instantly. 

New research from HSBC reveals that while the top motivations for moving overseas are the promise of a better  lifestyle or a better work/life balance - an idea shared by a third (31%) of people - the path to feeling settled with a  real sense of belonging is not always straightforward. 

The study, which surveyed over 7,000 people in nine countries*, found it takes someone on average just under nine months to feel settled when they relocate to Australia, while half (50%) feel settled in under six months. 

When asked about top strategies to feel more at home, respondents were clear that putting in the effort to connect  with others and experience local culture comes top: 

Actions respondents took to feel at home Percentage 

- Socialising with local community in cinemas, restaurants, etc. 32% 

- Attending local cultural events 27%

- Invested money in my new host location, for example saving with  a local bank or buying a property 26%

- Participating in activities at their children’s schools 25% 

Whilst learning the local language was not in the top five – suggesting it is not a barrier to belonging – it was  embraced by a fifth (20%) of respondents. 

When coming to Australia, people mostly move for a full- or part-time job (37%), or to study or develop a skill (22%),  and sometimes simply because their partner wanted to move here (18%). 

Commenting on the study, Jessica Power, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Australia at HSBC, said: “We  undertook this research to better understand how our customers experience the richness and diversity of life that  comes with living and working in different cultures, to find the best ways to support them in their journey. 

“Although it sometimes takes people over six months to feel settled here in Australia, we’ve seen that many people  who do come to Australia plan to stay for 2 – 5 years, about 40 per cent of those moving, so it is critical for us to  help them transition for the long term and feel financially secure. 

“We also now know that more than half, 53 per cent, of people that have moved to Australia feel that nobody helped  them financially prepare for the move, and we want to change this.  

“We service over six million international customers, and many of them stay with us as they relocate to new  countries. It is our mission to better help these people by trying to remove the social and financial barriers that can  prevent people from settling in smoothly and finding a sense of belonging. 

“By better understanding the challenges, we’re better equipped to support our customers as they embark on exciting  new adventures,” she said.  

Geoffrey Cohen, Stanford Professor and expert in the science and psychology of belonging, commenting on the  findings said: “Living in another country can be exciting and enriching but also daunting. A core challenge isn’t so much a practical matter as a psychological one - the task of creating a home. Home is a psychological state as  much as a physical place, one defined by a sense of belonging - a feeling of being an accepted part of a larger  community. That’s why it’s important for people to be patient, not put pressure on themselves and take their time to  feel settled – plus with some helpful strategies this process can be more seamless. HSBC’s research highlights the  emotional barriers people face when moving abroad. Feeling isolated is a key reason some people felt their  experience ‘falls short’ of expectations; and on the flip side, finding a sense of belonging in their host country can  provide them with motivation to stay longer.”  

New exchange launched for local insights  

To help people feel settled faster when moving, HSBC is launching the Unforeign Exchange, a new online  community which allows people who are relocating to exchange local insights with those who have real-life  experience – anecdotes and insights that cannot be found by simply searching the web. 

These real-life insights are generated by international experts, HSBC colleagues and selected influencers, with the  goal of making it easier for people who are re-locating to find their feet in their new home.  

For more information on what to consider when setting up overseas, read HSBC’s Guide To Moving Abroad.


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