How Relocating Spouses Experience Life Abroad in 9 Countries

Which aspects of moving abroad do relocating spouses find the most challenging? How do they settle in in different countries, and how happy are they with life in these locations?

The Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus zooms in on foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses in nine countries — China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA). The report is based on results from the Expat Insider — one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on expat life.

Findings from the report suggest that, of this expat type in the featured countries, relocating spouses in China are best supported by employers, whereas those in the UK and the UAE receive poor relocation support.

Key Comments from Relocating Spouses:

  • ‘’My kids like their school. I feel relatively safe here. But the language is difficult. I don’t like being this far from family and friends.’’ — American female living in Germany

  • ‘’The local people are very cold and not very friendly.’’ — Italian female living in Germany

  • ‘’There are not a lot of opportunities to go out late at night, unless you go to a club.’’ — Greek female living in Switzerland

  • ‘’There are not many social activities for the whole community. Many foreigners don’t feel comfortable at community events so they stay home.’’ — Canadian female living in Switzerland

  • ‘’Dutch people keep things very private, to themselves, and focus on the relationship with their intimate circle of families and close friends.’’ South Korean female living in the Netherlands

  • ‘’The local culture is somewhat difficult when people aren’t friendly or don’t have the time for you the moment they hear you’re a foreigner.’’ — British female living in the Netherlands

  • ‘’Socializing is difficult.’’ — Greek female living in the UK

  • ‘’I don’t like feeling like a foreigner all the time, being looked at with prejudice, and having people shutting down when they understand I am not British.’’ — Italian female living in the UK

  • ‘’As close as their culture may be to European culture, there are certain things you will simply never get used to.’’ — German female living in the USA

  • ‘’The society itself is a closed society.’’ — Canadian female living in France

  • ‘’It is not easy to make friends.’’ — Italian female living in France

  • ‘’China is beautiful. Remarkable culture, customs, and habits. Plenty of opportunities to grow and explore.’’ — Singaporean female living in China

  • ‘’It is not easy to socialize.’’ — Greek female living in China

  • ‘’I like the multiculturalism, high living standard, and many highly educated people.’’ — German male living in the UAE

  • ‘’Meeting and socializing with people my age is difficult.’’ — South African female living in the UAE

  • ‘’I like the safety for my children and that it’s an international environment.’’ —Italian female living in Hong Kong

These quotes and other findings from the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus provide valuable insights for companies looking to provide expat families with comprehensive relocation support, incorporating both practical and personal aspects of assistance. As a key part of the expat family structure, the relocating spouse is an important figure for employers to consider when putting together relocation packages. Meeting their unique needs will not only result in better integrated expat families, but happier and more productive global employees within the workplace as well. 

Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition Country Focus

Expat Insider 2018 | Business Edition Country Focus

A Snapshot of 9 Featured Countries

Download Reports