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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Romantics and Adventurers: Aussies Abroad

Most Australian expats move for love, but despite being of the adventurous type, many tend to not relocate too far from the homeland.
  • Southeast Asia among the most common destinations
  • For a quarter it’s the first stay abroad
  • Nearly half only speak their native tongue
  • Twice the average in top management positions
  • The average full-time work week has 47.6 hours

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics on Australians Abroad — infographic

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Romantics and Adventurers

It would seem that a large number of Australian expats are romantics at heart. When asked to give their main reason for moving abroad, the highest proportion say that they moved for love (17%), while 12% moved for their partner’s job or education. In fact, 16% of Australian expats have acquired the citizenship of their host country, compared to 11% globally. One potential explanation for this trend might be the high number of those moving for love who possibly marry abroad or just want to have the same nationality as their partner.

When able to give multiple reasons for their relocation, most Australian expats say that they were looking for an adventure or a personal challenge (32% compared to 25% globally). Australians would then appear to be an adventurous bunch, even though not many of them have lived in another country before. For a quarter of Australian expats, this is their first stay abroad. On the other hand, 16% of them have lived in five or more countries; compared to the global average of 11% they seem to be quite adventurous after all.

In fact, the most common expat type among Australian expats is the Adventurer, representing 23% of Aussies. The Greener Pastures Expat and the Romantic follow with 19% and 13%, respectively. In fact, the percentage of Aussie expats who are classified as Romantics is five percentage points higher than the global average, representing their tendency to move for love.

Not Too Linguistically Adventurous

While the Aussies seem to be quite adventurous, they do not seem to have a love for learning languages. An impressive 48% only speak one language, compared to 12% globally. There are also quite a few who speak two languages (32%), but most Australians who move abroad only speak a little of the local language (42% compared to 29% among all nationalities).

However, 55% overall disagree that they have had trouble with a potential language barrier in their new country, and only 26% considered the local language to be a possible disadvantage before relocating, which is however still higher than the global average of 20%. However, this statement might be somewhat biased as English is either the native language or is widely spoken in the top Australian-expat destinations — Indonesia, Thailand, and the USA. In fact, 16% say that the local language is the same as their mother tongue compared to just 11% of all nationalities.

High Flyers

An impressive 28% of those Australian expats who have chosen the traditional role of employee or manager as their main employment status are in top management positions, two times the global average of 14%! Indeed, 64% of all Australian expats have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. However, 51% say that their income is overall lower than what they’d earn in a similar position back home. Despite the lower earnings, at 47.6 hours per week, their average full-time working hours are quite a bit higher than the global average of 44.6.

As far as the current employment status of Australian expats is concerned, it is interesting to note that significantly less than the global average are employees and managers (32% vs. 41% globally). Meanwhile, there are slightly more entrepreneurs, business owners, and retirees than the global average. One in nine Australian expats (11%) is either an entrepreneur or a retiree, respectively, compared to 8% each worldwide.

Struck by Cupid’s Arrow

As already stated, most Australian expats made the move abroad for love. As would be expected, then, over three-quarters of them (76%) met their partner before relocating. Indeed, nearly half (46%) say that their partner comes from the country they have moved to, compared to 33% globally.

It would also seem that love trumped any worries these expats had about moving abroad, as 40% saw the distance to their home country as a potential disadvantage prior to moving compared to 28% globally. However, it is interesting to note that, relatively speaking, most Australian expats aren’t that far from home. Among the top locations of Australian expats are Indonesia, Thailand, and the USA, all with 5% of Australians living there.

Further Reading