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The Best Countries for Working Abroad

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Aerial view of Munich over Theatine Church of St. Cajetan (Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan) and Odeonplatz, Munich, Bavaria, Germany in day time.

By Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler

The new year can often bring about many an existential crisis and major life change—especially when it comes to your career. But whether your "new year, new you" mentality is prompting you to earn more money, get a raise, or change careers altogether, you might want to start looking outside of the United States: The top country for expat workers does not include the words "North America," according to a recent report from financial services company HSBC.

For the report, HSBC surveyed more than 22,000 expats from 163 countries about their first careers abroad. The "Expat Explorer" survey focused on eight career-focused criteria: The ability to acquire new skills; work-life balance; work culture; job security; career progression; gaining personal fulfillment at work; employee benefits received; and earning prospects. (Note: This study is different from the company's annual "Expat Explorer" survey.) Countries in Europe and the Middle East dominated the list, with Germany nabbing the top spot.

Why Germany? Expat workers raved about the country's efficient workplaces and overall work culture. It rated as the world's best country for career progression in the survey (65 percent described it as productive), while 70 percent of workers claim their work-life balance improved after their move to the country. Factors like increasing employment rates and a nationally legislated minimum wage means improved job security, while the working culture was rated second only to Sweden—some German brands even ban employees from reading emails on the weekend, HSBC reports. As it should be, since we all know those hours are better spent eating schnitzel and trying to get into Berghain.

If you're serious about seeking gainful employment in Germany, then you might as well get the ball rolling. According to the U.S. embassy in Germany, you'll need an offer of employment and residence permit, which will allow you to get approval from Germany's Immigration Office. See the embassy's website for more detailed information.

A full list of the best countries for first-time expat workers can be found below:

1. Germany
2. Bahrain
3. United Kingdom
4. United Arab Emirates
5. Switzerland
6. Sweden
7. Singapore
8. United States
9. Canada
10. Hong Kong

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