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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

American Expats Are Falling in Love with the World

If it isn't for work-related reasons, most US Americans move abroad for love, despite any language barriers that may exist.

Most of the US Americans abroad are looking for an adventure (35%) or simply enjoy living abroad (31%). About one-third (32%) even like their new life abroad so much that they consider staying in their current country of residence possibly forever (globally, only one out of four says so).

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics on US Americans abroad - infographic
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Love Is in the Air

When looking at the most important reason for US Americans' move away from home, 14% claim to have moved for love. In fact, 65% of the US Americans abroad are in a committed relationship. Out of these, 71% already knew their partner before moving abroad and 45% of the partners of non-single US American expatriates also originate from their current host country.

Among the US Americans who are taken, 91% live together with their partner. Eight out of ten (81%) are overall happy with their relationship and 44% even say they are completely satisfied. Of those US American expats around the world who are single, 38% generally agree that expat life makes having a relationship difficult, which is exactly on par with the global average.

The US American survey participants with predominantly expat friends report that most of them hail from another country, but they speak the same language or share a similar culture (39%, but only 24% say the same worldwide). However, almost one-fourth (23%) have mostly local residents as friends, compared to a global average of 16%. In fact, 32% state they typically find new friends in their local neighborhood, while around the world only 28% do so. Most of the US American expats still meet new people either through other friends of theirs (58%) or at work (55%), though.

Retiring Abroad, Anyone?

For 27% of the US Americans around the world, work is the main reason to move abroad. Four-fifths (81%) hold either a Bachelor's or Master's degree, or even a PhD (8%), which may be linked to the high percentage of US respondents (17%) who are working as teachers, academic staff, or researchers (survey average: 9%).

Other than that, 29% can be found in positions as employees or managers, and 14% are retirees (global averages are 47% and 5%, respectively). The latter group certainly plays a role in the higher than average age of 46.7 years, when compared to the worldwide average of 40.9 years.

Compared to the global rate, a smaller percentage of US American expats who work do so full-time (78% vs. a global 86%). For another 67% of US American respondents, the income is either the same or lower than back home, which may well be a consequence of their shorter working hours (39.7 vs. 42.0 hours per week on a global level).

New Languages Require Time

It's interesting to note that only 8% of the US Americans abroad say that they are living in a country that has the same local language as back home. Still, most of the US American expats speak only their mother tongue (31%) or one other additional language (42%). At the same time, no more than 1% name improving their language skills as their main reason for moving, even if the topic of language was something many (27%) say they thought about before going abroad.

As such, the language barrier is a problem for almost one-third (32%) of US American expatriates (global average: 26%), and while 21% claim to be speaking the local language of their respective host country very well, more than half (51%) say they speak it only a little or not at all.

Further Reading