The Ups and Downs of Life Abroad for Foreign Assignees

In comparison to international hires and relocating spouses, foreign assignees receive more relocation support from their employer and have greater satisfaction in all phases of the expat lifecycle. Despite the general happiness of this expat type, a lack of socializing opportunities and absence of personal support are the primary contributors to their unhappiness during phases of their time abroad. These are some of the findings from the Expat Insider Business Edition, a report based on the Expat Insider survey of 18,135 respondents.

Of the foreign assignees surveyed, 62% were male, 63% were in a relationship, and 91% had a university degree. The top three industries of employment were manufacturing and engineering (14%), finance (13%), and information technology (11%).

Key Comments from Foreign Assignees:

  • ‘’There is a lack of social groups that provide diversified activities and include a mix of locals and expats.’’ — Canadian female living in Tunisia
  • ‘’Whilst the local culture is still a challenge, I have an extraordinary group of expats that have become family for me.’’ — Mexican male living in the Netherlands

  • ‘’Socializing is definitely hard. I don’t have much of a social life outside of work.’’ — Portuguese female living in Ireland

  • ‘’I hoped to create a richer network of people, but it’s hard to find new friends while working and not being 20 years old anymore.’’ — Italian male living in France

  • ‘’I like that my housing arrangements were supported by my company.’’ — American living in China

  • ‘’Finding friends among locals is difficult within my age group, because most locals already have their circle of friends and family and are too busy with other things to make new friends. Finding local friends can be a challenge, unless you meet them through work.’’ — Russian female living in the Netherlands

  • ‘’It’s not so easy to get into the local circle here.’’ — Chinese female living in France

Findings from the report suggest that foreign assignees would like to receive greater social integration assistance from their employer, representing an important aspect of relocation support for companies to consider.

Read the Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition: Expat Insider is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad (18,135 expats from across the globe took part in the 2018 survey — 10% of respondents were foreign assignees, 19% were international hires, and 8% were relocating spouses).

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