Survey shows seven distinctive types of expat

Survey shows seven distinctive types of expat

Survey shows seven distinctive types of expat

A well-known expat survey firm has now released the first comprehensive expat typology study, identifying seven different expat groups. It’s a modern belief that relocation overseas is simply a way to ensure a massive salary in an exotic location.

However, a new way of looking at the motivations behind emigrating for work purposes has identified seven individual types of expats according to their reasons for leaving the home country.

Simply put, the Foreign Assignee and the Go-Getter have a single reason – the job, whilst Optimisers are searching for a better quality of life. Explorers have no problem settling down anywhere on the planet and Romantics find new friends easily. Travelling Spouses move overseas because they love their husbands, but they’re the least likely group to make a success of the move and the most likely to give up and go home. Students are the last group and it’s not all about getting an affordable degree as they take their new country seriously enough to learn the language.

Digging further into the psychology of expat types, the survey revealed Go-Getters are mostly highly educated and usually attracted to jobs in education or engineering, thus choosing destinations with plenty of opportunities. Putting work first, finding friendships tricky and never feeling at home are other characteristics of this group. Optimisers dive into their new country and see most things through rose-coloured glasses, feeling satisfied with their salaries and enjoying jobs which aren’t too challenging. They settle easily and feel at home wherever they are.

Romantics tend to emigrate for love, even if it doesn’t last beyond the first few years. They make friends with the locals, learn the language, become immersed in the culture and generally go native. They usually attempt to find a career, but living life to the full is the priority. The Explorer finds integration easy, with friendships the most important factor and a good work/life balance essential. Doing and seeing is more important than maximising career opportunities.The Foreign Assignee is dedicated to the job, with the vast majority of this type on reassignment from their home country employer. They rarely feel at home overseas, and most don’t take their partners with them.

The Travelling Spouse is only there because of her partner’s reassignment and struggles to settle in, especially if children are involved. The local culture isn’t understood, making friends is hard and there’s often resentment at being forced to put their home country career on hold. Cultural issues can be big problems, especially in the Middle East. Surprisingly, the Student also finds making new friends tricky, and integrating into local culture can also be a problem. The majority are on post-graduate courses, are happy with their career prospects, use networking as a way to get noticed and never have as much money as they believe they need.

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