German Expats Are Satisfied with Life Abroad
German respondents seem well adapted to living abroad, immersing themselves in diverse social groups and making good use of their foreign language skills.
Complete satisfaction is hard to come by, but among the Germans abroad 82% indicate they are overall satisfied with their expat life, surpassing the global satisfaction level (77%). Perhaps it is this positive attitude that makes the largest group of German respondents (28%) say they'll possibly stay forever in their respective countries.
Then again, should their current host country not be a perfect fit, the German respondent can tap into their nomadic tendencies: the global average for having previously lived in two or more foreign countries is 49% compared to 61% of the well-traveled Germans. The US is the fortunate host of 12% of the travel-happy German expats, more than double the average of all expats in the US (5%).
Expat Statistics 2015
Traveling for Business or Pleasure?
The top motivations for moving abroad are both economic and social. When asked for their reasons for relocating (multiple answers were possible), 52% of Germans abroad say they found a job on their own or were sent by an employer (28% and 24%, respectively), while moving because they simply wanted to live abroad or were searching for adventure applies to 54% (27% each).
Business-driven motivations dominate the top three most important reasons for moving abroad, however: being sent by an employer (15%), moving for love (15%), and having found a job (14%). As for the other end of the spectrum, the German respondent is unlikely to be compelled to move abroad for political, religious or safety reasons (0.3%) and only a mere 2%, half of the global average, due to financial issues.
The status of employee or manager is more common among the Germans abroad than globally speaking (54% vs. 47%). Many German respondents also break out on their own as entrepreneurs or business owners (8%), as well as freelancers (7%). Fortunately, German expats find it relatively easy to become self-employed compared to the worldwide average (56% vs. 41%) or to start their own business (52% vs. 36%). Surely, the free movement of workers principle in the EU plays a facilitating role here.
Overall, the top three sectors for the working German abroad are education/research/translation (13%), business services/consulting/coaching (11%), and manufacturing/consumer goods (11%).
A Social Melting Pot
It's not quite all work and no play for Germans abroad, though, as they usually meet new people through work or friends (65% and 62%, respectively, multiple answers possible). A disparity with the survey average in this respect is that Germans abroad often meet new people through sports (28% compared to 19%). Conversely, online networking and religious communities are not social hubs for the German expat (17% vs. a global 21%, and 5% vs. 9%, respectively).
International couples are frequent among German expats, with 72% of those in a relationship having a partner from another country; only 56% of non-single expats around the world can say the same. This diversity continues into the social circles of more than half the respondents (53%), which consist of local residents and expats alike.
From Kindergarten to PhD
National schools abroad are the top choice for one in seven of the German respondents with children (14%, double the global average), although state or private schools in the host country are also quite popular (26% and 21%, respectively).
Just over half of the Germans abroad have a postgraduate degree (51%), which is nine percentage points higher than the global average. A PhD is held by another 10% of the German respondents compared to 6% worldwide. Even the 1% without a degree still does relatively well considering 3% is the worldwide average here.
Well-Versed in Language
Not knowing any foreign languages seems to be a cardinal sin amongst the Germans abroad: less than 0.5% speak only their mother tongue compared to 12% globally. The largest group is that of Germans who are fluent in three languages (37% vs. 31% worldwide), followed by those who speak four (25%). Additionally, an impressive 17% proclaim skills in five or more languages (global average: 12%). Finally, Germans abroad tend to speak the local language of their respective host country either fairly or very well (62% vs. 48% globally).
- Here to Stay - read how a German expat moved to the USA and how different a permanent relocation can be compared to a temporary one
- Expat Life, Bilingualism and your Cultural Identity - insights from a German-American expat
- Reverse Culture Shock - why returning home is not always easy