It appears the US’s strong economy may become a drawcard for overseas professionals, as new research reveals that the country is now just as popular – if not more – than the UK for Aussies who would consider working overseas. Hong Kong and China are the least popular working destinations among Aussies.

A survey by global leader in international money transfers WorldFirst ([1] asked an independent panel of 1000 Australian adults which country they would choose to move to if they were to take a job opportunity overseas.

When presented with 14 overseas destinations, the US (chosen by 20.4 per cent of respondents) just beat England (20.2 per cent of respondents) as the top working destination of their choice. New Zealand and Canada followed, with an equal 14 per cent of respondents choosing these Commonwealth countries as their desired place of work.

European and Asian countries are less popular destinations among Aussies, with the rest of the UK (chosen by 7 per cent of respondents) and Dubai (5 per cent) coming in fifth and sixth place. Singapore sits higher on the ranking (chosen by 4 per cent of respondents) in comparison to Scandinavia (3 per cent), Japan (3 per cent), Switzerland (3 per cent), Germany (2 per cent) and France (2 per cent), despite Singapore’s well-known title as the world’s most expensive city for the fifth consecutive year.[2]

Australia’s low wage growth may drive more Aussies abroad, with the survey revealing that a salary increase is the leading factor that would motivate Aussies to take up a job overseas: over quarter of respondents (25 per cent) would seek a salary increase of $50,000, 16 per cent would seek an increase of $100,000, and 15 per cent would seek an increase of $25,000. For some, a pay rise is not a priority: 19 per cent would move for a position that is not available to them in Australia, while 13 per cent would like flexibility in terms of working hours, or the ability to work from home.

The desire to move overseas for work is growing among Australians. If overseas jobs gave them the above benefits, 48 per cent of respondents admitted they would have taken, or did take, a job overseas five years ago. Just 20 per cent considered, or took, such a job 10 years ago. The trend is most common among newly minted professionals, with 82 per cent of people in their 20s saying they would have worked abroad in the last five years if those jobs came with better salaries or working conditions.

Patrick Liddy, Head of Foreign Exchange at WorldFirst, said: “Australians heading to the US or the UK – where our dollar has slid this year against the local currencies – need to be well prepared by having a foreign exchange strategy, especially if they are working for an Australian company that pays them in Australian dollars.

“Trump and Brexit have had major impacts on currency markets. After Trump was elected, the US dollar strengthen 5 per cent against the AUD, while the pound dropped 16 per cent against our dollar post-Brexit. Currency movements such as this make it is essential for the growing number of expats that are heading overseas to plan a foreign exchange rate strategy for the move as well as when they’re sending money back home.

“Fee-free foreign exchange specialists such as WorldFirst, can help expats select the best time to make international payments, and save them thousands of dollars in transaction fees by offering rates up to seven times cheaper than the big four banks.”

Most popular expat destinations for Aussies to take up a job overseas

Rank Destination Percentage (%)
1 USA 20.4%
2 England 20.2%
3 NZ 14%
4 Canada 14%
5 UK (excl. England) 7%
6 Dubai 5%
7 Singapore 4%
8 Scandinavia 3%
9 Japan 3%
10 Switzerland 3%

Top reasons Aussies would pay extra consideration when deciding to take a job overseas

Rank Factors Percentage (%)
1 Salary increase of $50,000 25%
2 Opportunity or position not available in Australia 19%
3 Salary increase of $100,000 16%
4 Salary increase of $25,000 15%
5 Flexibility to work from home, or choose work hours 13%
6 Salary increase of more than $150,000 7%
7 Salary increase of $150,000 4%
8 Significantly shorter commute times 2%