Expat Focus International News Update October 2022

HireAHelper survey reveals top countries for US expats

Blogsite HireAHelper have recently undertaken a new survey, based on research into residence permit and visa data, to track the most popular choices of country among US expats. Top of the list is nearby Mexico, followed by the UK and Canada (English-speaking nations are an obvious fit). Around 16,000 Americans relocated to Mexico, 15,000 Americans moved to the UK, and 12,000 went north of the border to Canada.

This report has backed up InterNations’ claim that 77% of US expats are happy with their financial situation having moved to Mexico. The relatively cheap cost of living, plus the fact that Mexico is the second fastest growing economy in Latin America, has resulted in a high level of financial satisfaction among expats compared with elsewhere in the world.

The OECD says that Mexico’s purchasing power is currently 10.04 peso per US dollar, so for one dollar, you can buy what 10 pesos can buy. However, at current market exchange rates, the dollar is approximately 20 pesos per USD$, so your dollar buys twice as much in Mexico as it will in the USA. With a median home price of around USD$43,000 in Mexico, it’s not surprising that expats are getting more for their money, even given a rising rate of inflation.

HSBC streamlines credit check operations

HSBC has joined forces with fintech company Nova Credit to make it easier for credit scores compiled in one country to be accessible in others, a move which should help expats. If you’ve built up a respectable credit score (with a company such as the UK’s Experian, for instance) in one country and then relocate, you can run the risk of finding yourself back at square one. Theoretically, your credit score should be accessible in your new nation, but in practice, actually getting hold of the figures – or getting someone in authority to accept them – is easier said than done. Catherine Zhou, Global Head of Ventures, Digital Innovation and Partnerships at HSBC, told AmericanBanker.com that:

“We know that when expats move to a new market, being unable to access their overseas credit histories digitally, and have them recognized by banks, is a problem.”

The bank has invested $10 million on Nova Credit already. They have begun using its platform in Singapore, but a global rollout is planned next year, featuring Nova Credit’s data product Credit Passport. This is to assist customers who have just arrived in a country, to access their credit scores, across borders. The current roll-out covers customers new to Singapore who have credit bureau histories in India. The planned expansion in 2023 will cover customers with credit histories in the UK, Australia and the Philippines, and is intended to grow to cover more countries and credit bureaus as the project develops. Nova Credit themselves have relationships with credit bureaus in over 20 countries to date.

Brits in Mallorca must reapply for driving licences

British citizens resident in Mallorca have been dismayed to learn that they’re going to need to reapply for their driving licences. This is an ongoing example of the post-Brexit, pan-Europe, driving licence chaos that has been afflicting Brits in the EU.

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Any Brits – of the 280,000 resident in Spain – who did not exchange their British driving licence for a Spanish one by 30th April of this year, now face having to re-take their driving test in Spanish. The UK Department of Transport has been undergoing intensive negotiations with the Spanish authorities since the end of the transition period, but with little joy so far either in Spain itself or in the Balearics. Ambassador Hugh Elliott says:

“I remain very optimistic that we will reach an agreement and hope it will be soon. But … I can’t give you a definitive timetable. And so the advice that we have been giving all along, which is that you should consider taking the Spanish test if you need to drive urgently, remains valid.”

Brits sell homes in Spain

A British business owner in Spain told the Daily Express in late September that British citizens are selling up in droves in the region, due to the new 90-day ruling after Brexit. The anonymous retirement housing complex owner told the Express that:

“Many owners on the complex I run who have owned their properties for 20 to 30 years, and never previously rented them out, are now selling up because they can’t use them as often as they used to. The irony is that most of them destroyed their own retirement dreams by voting for Brexit. Even more ironically, this is the only Brexit benefit for me personally, as there are more properties becoming available to my company to rent to tourists.”

However, although the revised residency requirements might negatively affect retirees, there are signs of hope. The Spanish government will be introducing a new year-long visa aimed at third party nationals who are digital nomads, which will also apply to relatives. This is a clear inducement to bring remote workers into Spain, and the even better news is that it can be extended for up to five years. We’ve reported on this new visa in greater depth on the Expat Focus website.

Companies in Singapore face difficulties filling positions

We’ve reported on the employment climate in Singapore before, and opinions vary as to how far this is being affected by lockdowns in Hong Kong and other factors. In late September, global consultancy firm Mercer reported that they were having difficulties filling positions left empty by expats returning home or relocating elsewhere. Mercer’s Singapore CEO, Australian Petra Latimer, told ChannelNewsAsia that:

“The problem is a lot of organisations are (also) trying to desperately backfill because the economy has boomed back, and we’re trying to grow as fast as possible. And so that is causing insane levels of competition (for talents).”

Prior to the pandemic, in 2018, Global consulting firm Korn Ferry predicted a skilled labour deficit of 85.2 million people across the world by 2030. American HR firm, ManpowerGroup, agrees, reporting that 75% of over 40,000 employers in 40 economies reported “talent shortages” in 2022 – an increase from 54% in 2019 and 69% in 2021. Shortages are at a 16-year high and likely to increase, experts say.


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