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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Common Considerations before Moving Abroad

The cost of living, economy and job market, as well as personal safety and crime were mostly on the minds of expats before their move. Health risks were less of a consideration.

The survey participants were asked which factors regarding their new host country they were thinking about the most leading up to their move. They could choose up to three options, including cost of living, climate and weather, language, healthcare, etc. There was also an "other" option where they could enter their own response.

For some factors, it is clear that expatriates were particularly concerned about what life abroad was going to be like in that respect (e.g. personal safety and crime). In some other cases, however, expatriates were obviously thinking about these factors in a positive way (e.g. looking forward to the sunny weather).

Some expatriates answered this question by restating their main reasons for moving to a particular country. For example, some of their responses for the "other" option include improving their quality of life, studying for a degree, or pursuing a certain opportunity for career advancement. Further answers under "other" include reflections about the possible effects of the move on relationships, family members, and pets, considerations about the location and opportunity to travel, and pleasant thoughts about the highlights of living abroad in a particular culture.

The Most and Least Common Considerations

Expats are most likely to have thought about the cost of living before moving abroad (38%). The economy and labor market (35%), as well as personal safety and crime (32%), also occupied the thoughts of many expatriates. Three in ten expats (29%) say they considered the weather in their future host country.

The political stability in their new home is not a factor that mattered to many expats (12%). Taxation concerned even fewer (8%). At the bottom of the list are potential health concerns (4%).

With regards to male and female survey respondents, women put more emphasis on factors such as climate and weather (30%), language (27%), and the distance to their home country (26%). Men were only slightly less likely to consider the weather before moving abroad (29%). However, they were noticeably less likely to choose the options language (20%) and distance to their home country (20%).

Although it is at the top of the list for both men and women, men were more likely to think about the cost of living (41%) than women (36%) before they moved abroad. Men were also a bit more likely to take the following aspects into consideration: the economy and labor market, the infrastructure, healthcare, and political stability. For all these factors, the difference in percentages between men and women is three percentage points or less. Only one aspect, taxation, occupied almost twice the number of men than women (11% and 6%, respectively).

Who Thought about What?

In terms of demographics, survey participants aged 25 and below are most likely to have thought about the cost of living before moving abroad (46%). Many expats in this age group also chose the language option (35%), compared to a global average of 24%. Expats aged 26 to 40 were most likely to think about the economy and labor market. The climate and weather of their new host country was especially on the mind of expatriates aged 51 or above (41%). They are the age group more likely to consider the healthcare in their new country (20%) than the global average of 16%.

Taking a look at expat parents in particular, there are several factors that mattered more to them rather than the general survey population. Two in ten (19%) say they thought about healthcare, compared to an average 15% among expats without kids. Personal safety and crime occupied the thoughts of 36% of expat parents, whereas the global average among childless expats is 31%.

Safety, Taxation, and the Weather

Among specific expat types, the Foreign Assignee is most likely to have devoted time to thoughts about personal safety and crime (41%), the infrastructure (22%), and potential health risks (9%). Compared to the global average of 35%, perhaps unsurprisingly only one-quarter considered the economy and labor market. Language (32%), distance to their home country (27%), and healthcare (19%) matter to the Romantic; however, this expat type didn't think too much about infrastructure (12%), political stability (9%), and taxation (4%).

Expats living in African countries are most likely to have thought about personal safety and crime before their move. Two-thirds of expats in Nigeria (67%) considered this factor, 61% in Tanzania, and 58% in Kenya. When expats attached a certain importance to the climate and weather before their move, it seems they were looking forward to long, sunny days, as top fair-weather destinations have the highest percentages for this factor. Cyprus comes in first here with 79%, followed by Malta (75%) and Costa Rica (67%). Taxation was most likely to be on the mind of expats moving to Middle Eastern countries, from 27% in Oman to 24% in Qatar and the UAE. This can probably be attributed to the fact that none of these countries levy tax on personal income.

Further Reading