Almost half (46%) of respondents planning a move abroad (to live, work or study) expect a cash flow crisis upon arrival, according to new in-depth HSBC research revealing the financial challenges of relocating abroad.

As technology opens up opportunities for more people to become digital nomads, and people start to move across the globe again, the study findings from HSBC, conducted by Ipsos UK which surveyed over 7,000 adults across nine international locations, was aimed at understanding how international citizens' financial lives are evolving, their motivations for moving abroad, and issues they face as they settle into their new home. 

The research showed an inability to transfer credit history between locations meaning that almost three in five (56%) of those who have relocated, struggled to get essential services set up (e.g. credit card, mobile phone, utilities).

While just under half (45%) who planned to relocate had no idea how they would manage their finances between locations when they moved. 

The bank estimates there are over 90 million international customers across just 10 of its key international markets - people already living, working and studying abroad. The research lays their financial challenges bare - the pressures of relocating and the practical impact it can have on their lives. 

Over half (53%) of survey respondents who have relocated agreed that they felt unsettled when they first arrived because they struggled to set-up important things like a bank account, utilities, and the internet; highlighting how complex financial admin can have a negative impact on their new experience. Without a bank account, they can struggle to secure a home - and without a fixed address, struggle to get children in schools.

Key concerns of those who have moved or plan to move overseas were:

•    Almost three in five (56%) people surveyed, who have already relocated, agree that being unable to transfer their credit history led to struggles setting-up essentials, such as a mobile phone contract or credit card. Half (50%) planning to move overseas also agree that this is a concern for them.

•    Among those planning to relocate, nearly half (46%) expect a cashflow crisis upon arrival; and just under half (45%) agreed that not knowing how to juggle financial life between locations was a concern - this jumps to 50% among international students.

•    Almost three in five of the future relocators (59%) are concerned about the implications of paying taxes in a new country. 

The study comes as HSBC is relaunching its international products and services, which it said would better support customers across borders, for a seamless cross-border experience, whether they're moving for work, study or to live in a new location.

Taylan Turan, group head of retail banking and strategy, wealth and personal banking at HSBC, said: "Moving abroad is exciting and daunting, but managing your finances internationally shouldn't be a struggle. It's clear from our research that some people get caught out on the financial front, which can really impact their ability to settle in their new home.

"Banking across multiple locations can make it tricky to stay on top of your finances; there's a lot to think about. To be set for success, people need to be able to open a bank account before they move overseas, and see their bank accounts in one global view. Beyond banking, the tax implications of relocating abroad can also play heavily on people's minds, so help from tax planning advisors is crucial.

"The right financial support can help reduce the time people spend worrying about money matters, and instead make more time for them to enjoy their new life." 

Motivations for moving

As inflationary pressures and the rising cost of living affects consumers in some countries and territories, HSBC found a quarter (25%) of respondents were motivated to move to earn more money, and over a fifth (22%) move (or plan to move) to make their money go further.

Yet one in two (51%) respondents who are planning to live, work, or study abroad said that nobody has helped them feel financially prepared to relocate.

A majority (62%) of respondents who are planning a big move, agreed that finding the right financial services to suit their needs was a worry. This rose to over two thirds (67%) among digital nomads.

Top reasons for relocating to work or study abroad among international citizens in the survey


  • Better lifestyle, such as improved health or social life


  • A better work/life balance


  • For increased salary / higher earnings


  • Opportunity to travel


  • Stability for my family


  • Learn new skills at work


  • To make my money go further


  • To live in a more sustainable environment


  • Explore and understand the culture of my new location


  • Accelerate career progression / job promotion


  • Improved technology means I can now work anywhere


  • To take advantage of more flexible remote working rules


The study, conducted by Ipsos UK, surveyed over 7,000 adults across nine international locations. It investigated the experiences of those currently living, working and studying abroad, as well as those who are planning to do so and those who have returned within the last five years. It explored the experience of a range of different international citizens, including expat families, digital nomads and overseas students. 

HSBC's tips to consider when planning a move abroad 

Before departure

•    Research where you're going - it sounds obvious, but getting the low-down on the place will give you a sense of what it's really like to live there - from culture and climate to transport and living costs. If you can, speak to others who live, or have lived, in your potential new location and ask them to share their secrets on settling in successfully.

•    Speak to your bank - get an account set-up before you land, so you can hit the ground running. Take time to understand how your bank can support you when you move - does it offer multicurrency accounts, or allow you to take your credit history with you when applying for credit in your new location? You may find they have the right expertise and relevant local knowledge for you. 

•    Figure out how you'll manage your money and get ahead on financial admin - take some time to think about how you'll stay on top of your money during and after your move. For example, you may need to have a visa before you can open a bank account. 

•    Check out your bank's lifestyle offerings - can they help you settle into your new location beyond banking - from helping with airport transportation, to obtaining a mobile SIM card in the new location? 

•    Know how the tax works in the location where you are going, and whether you'll still have tax considerations in your home location or region once you've moved. Check your new government's website for local advice. 

•    Build up your cash savings - setting aside some money, ready to cover start-up costs or the move itself, can help ease money worries. You may wish to open a savings account in the currency of your new location that you can access once you've moved, so you can continue to save from your new location.

•    Understand support available from your new employer - they could help with moving costs or finding a property for your first few months in a new location. 

Upon arrival 

•    Speak to your bank about support on the ground, when you land in your new location. Is there a local number you can call, to connect with customer services in your preferred language and timezone? 

•    Join a club or get involved with your children's school - getting to know people is an important part of feeling settled in your new host location. Check out what's going on in your local area. If you have children at school, connect with other parents and the school to find out what's going on and how you can get involved.

•    Familiarise yourself with your new area - find your new favourite local shops and restaurants or play areas, if you have children.

•    Get to know the office culture - no matter where you move, it's likely that the office culture will be different from the culture at home. Chat with colleagues to understand what's expected of you.