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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Expats Have a Hard Life, Many Friends

Maintaining a comfortable lifestyle while working in Russia is difficult for many foreigners, but the ease of making new friends among the locals could sweeten the pill for many.

According to HSBC’s expat experience report, Russia ranks two points from the bottom in terms of quality of life among the 26 countries surveyed, but it places fourth in terms of making new friends, especially among locals.

The survey rated 26 countries on 25 day-to-day factors, such as accommodation, food, social life, the ease of organizing finances and accommodation.

Russia ranked 24th in terms of overall quality of life, placing dead last in terms of ease of setting up financing and enrolling children in school, and was also ranked poorly for its quality of healthcare (25) and commute (23).

Canada, Australia and Thailand placed among the top three globally, while India and Qatar trailed the rest, ranking 25th and 26th, respectively.

Russia’s weak points also include a difficulty in setting up utilities (25) and finding an apartment to live in (23), but the country ranks stronger in terms of entertainment (9) and social life (7).

Russia’s people, however, may be its most valuable asset, as many expats found it comparatively easier to make friends while living here.

“While making friends is easy for most expats, there is a preference for making friends within the expat community rather than the local community,” the report said. “An exception to this is Brazil, which ranks highest for local community integration (94 percent of expats making local friends easily). This was closely followed by Canada and South Africa (both 91 percent), India and Russia (both 90 percent).”

While foreigners living here may be having a hard time of it, Russians working abroad are among those most likely to stay away for a long time.

“The countries that produce the ‘expat-lifers’ include those originally from Thailand, Bahrain (81 percent), South Africa  (73 percent), Russia and the United States (both 70 percent),” the report said.

HSBC issued the first survey in its series in June reporting on the economic experiences of expats. According to that report, one-third of all expats living in Russia — the highest proportion in the world — make more than $250,000 per year, with almost half reporting an income of $200,000 per year or more.

Almost 60 percent said they had $4,000 or more every month in disposable income, the second-highest proportion in the world, while 70 percent earn enough to be able to employ at least one person as domestic staff, significantly higher than the global average of 48 percent.

The surveys was commissioned by HSBC Bank International and conducted by research company FreshMinds. More than 3,100 expats were questioned between February and April 2009.