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Top 2 Reasons Causing Foreign Assignees and International Hires (Un)Happiness

The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition reveals new insights into the lives of foreign assignees, international hires, and relocating spouses. With core chapters on these three expat types, the report explores the relocation support they receive (and want), as well as their ease of settling in, happiness, and family setup while abroad. The report is based on the Expat Insider survey — one of the world’s largest (20,259 expats participated in 2019).

Looking more closely at the happiness of these expats who moved abroad for work-related reasons, the top reasons for their happiness and unhappiness show a clear trend.

Happiness with Work Life

The survey results show that moving abroad for work-related reasons paid off for most foreign assignees. While a large share relocated to a different country to pursue their career development (51%), more than three-quarters show high levels of overall job satisfaction throughout the expat lifecycle and more than half of them (57%) indicate job satisfaction as the main happiness contributor to their life abroad.

A Canadian female foreign assignee living in Nigeria states that her career is the biggest contributor to her happiness abroad. She says: “I am content with work, I have a lot of responsibility and I enjoy to collaborate frequently with local groups and individuals.”

For international hires, the picture is similar — their career and work play an important part in life abroad. It is, therefore, no surprise that the biggest contributor to the happiness of those indicating they are happy abroad, is job satisfaction — a large share of 60% state this.

An Italian female international hire living in Germany says she likes “the working conditions, financial stability, and future career opportunities.”

Unhappiness with Personal Life

While most Foreign Assignees are happy with their work life, the lack of socializing opportunities represents the top reason for their unhappiness, as indicated by 59%. A Brazilian male living in Germany states that the main reason for unhappiness in his new country of residence is “not being able to make friends as a foreigner.”

Of the international hires indicating unhappiness abroad, not enough socializing opportunities is the top reason for their discontentedness — 50%.

An Indian male international hire living in Oman finds it “difficult to find and make local friends,” while an Uzbek female international hire living in Turkey says: “I’m not satisfied with my social life here. It’s hard to make friends and find a network.”

These top happiness findings could be key indicators to employers supporting these expats of what their true needs are and where gaps need to be filled.


About the Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition: The InterNations Expat Insider is one of the world’s largest surveys on life abroad — 20,259 expats took part. The Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition focuses specifically on global employees and their spouses — 10% of respondents were foreign assignees, 23% were international hires, and 7% were relocating spouses. Through detailed results, infographics, and expat quotes, the report provides insights that can assist global mobility and HR professionals in understanding the needs of expat employees better.

Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition

Expat Insider 2019 Business Edition

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