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Job Havens: The Best International Cities

Last Updated Apr 6, 2009 12:31 PM EDT

For those contemplating a move abroad for work, these are three of the best foreign cities to consider. To find them, we examined employment and wage data to determine which cities were adding the most high-paying jobs — or at least doing the best at protecting them. Then we spoke to economists, consultants, and labor experts to winnow the list down further. Read on to see our picks.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Unemployment Rate:

4.9 percent
Average Annual Income:

Job Growth:

1.5 percent
Top Job Categories:

Clean tech, video game development, film production

Historically fueled by natural resources such as forestry, Vancouver has recently become a mini tech hub, with a large video game industry and a cluster of clean-tech fuel-cell companies. It’s also a good place for American MBAs; Vancouver has recently stepped up efforts to recruit Americans with management expertise to help lead its corporate sector. The city is also the third-largest movie production center in the world after Los Angeles and New York.

Shanghai, China

Unemployment Rate:

4.4 percent
Average Annual Income for Professional Expats:

U.S. income plus 30 percent hardship premium
Job Growth:

Top Job Categories:

Financial services, Internet companies, advertising

Some 40,000 American expats live and work in Shanghai, which boasts China’s largest port, its fastest-growing stock exchange, and education and health care services that are on par with U.S. standards. The area’s huge manufacturing, technology, and R&D base is employed by many large U.S. athletic apparel and pharmaceutical companies, and has spawned a secondary job market driven by advertising agencies and Internet companies.

Mumbai, India

Unemployment Rate:

7.2 percent
Average Annual Income for Professional Expats:

U.S. income plus 40 percent hardship premium
Job growth:

Top Job Categories:

Film and TV production, legal work, financial services

While India’s economic growth has slowed drastically for the first time in seven years, the country is banking on Mumbai, its financial capital, to lure foreign investors and help stave off the global recession. Each year, Mumbai contributes 5 percent of India’s GDP and nearly 40 percent of the country’s foreign trade, and the city is home to India’s vast film and TV industry, two major stock exchanges, five Fortune 500 companies, and the State Bank of India, which plans to hire more than 10,000 workers this year. And following November's terrorist attacks, the state government has beefed up security considerably in the sprawling port city.


  • Unemployment Rate — Vancouver (Statistics Canada, Feb. 2009); Shanghai (Shanghai Municipal Government, Dec. 2008); Mumbai (Manpower Associates, 2008)
  • Income — Vancouver (Statistics Canada, 2008); Shanghai (Stanton Chase International); Mumbai (ORC Worldwide)
  • Job Growth — Vancouver (Statistics Canada, 2008)