Probably because life is so good in Australia that only the exceptionally talented have the motive to live elsewhere — usually in more populous countries such as the UK and the USA — thus giving their talents greater exposure and use

AUSTRALIAN expatriates are among the richest in the world, with one in five earning more than $US250,000 a year. But almost a third are planning to return home, blaming global economic turmoil for limiting their career prospects.

Research by HSBC Bank Australia, based on a survey of 3100 expats working in 50 countries, found Australians working overseas are living the good life, whereas foreign expats working in Australia have the lowest salaries of all the countries surveyed. Almost half, or 46 per cent, of Australian expats have an extra $US4000 or so in disposable income each month and have hired help such as nannies or cleaners.

However, foreign expats in Australia are the poorest of those surveyed, with 63 per cent earning less than $US100,000 a year.

Graham Heunis, the head of personal finance services at HSBC Australia, said expats in Russia, Asia and the Middle East were the highest paid, with those in Belgium and Australia the poorest.

Despite their lucrative salaries many Australians working overseas are considering moving home because of the global financial crisis. “Expats living in Australia are reporting the lowest salaries, but are nevertheless keen to stay put, while a third of the Australians living overseas are considering a return home,” said Mr Heunis.