Friday, March 12, 2010

CANBERRA -- With its beaches, outdoor lifestyle and friendly schools, Australia has been voted the world's best country to bring up children by expatriates parents working there, an HSBC bank survey shows.

Australia provided the best environment for healthy and active children, with more than three quarters of expat kids spending more time outdoors than in their home country, the survey said.

Expat children living Down Under also found it easier to make friends and ease into new school environments, while schools in the United States and Britain were the least child-friendly for foreigners, the study found.

The survey looked at more than 3,100 expatriates from 50 countries, now living and working in expatriate hubs including six major ones: Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, United Arab Emirates and Australia. Respondents rated their adopted homes on quality of childcare, education, ease of integration, costs of raising children and time spent on outdoor activities.

Australia had the largest proportion of expat parents who reported an improvement in the quality of family life compared with their original homes, while almost half (45 percent) said moving to the UK could have a negative effect.

Singapore ranked second overall behind Australia in the top six, followed by Hong Kong, the U.A.E., the United States and Britain. But Singapore ranked first for safety, while Australia was marked down slightly on childcare quality. Parents saw Britain and the U.S. as generally less healthy places to live, with children in both countries more likely to spend more time watching TV and playing computer games.

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