However, moving for work isn’t the same as choosing to relocate to another country because you’ve fallen in love with it, and expats on work assignments tend to move only temporarily. But the statistics do offer an insight into what motivates people to stay put. Female respondents were far more likely to continue living abroad after completing their assignment, with 37 per cent deciding to settle permanently (as opposed to just 23 per cent of men), suggesting they are more motivated to move by a sense of adventure and the desire to experience different cultures.
The CEO of AXA, Tom Wilkinson, commented that there were various reasons why people relocate, concluding that he would “strongly encourage anyone living abroad to embrace all of the available opportunities; work and lifestyle alike”.
While AXA’s report was very much focused on expats who’ve moved because of their working lives, but what about the many expat retirees? Without ties to work and, hopefully, with a healthy pension pot (which has perhaps benefitted from a pension transfer under the guidance of an experienced financial adviser), these expats will often emigrate with one principal goal in mind: to enjoy in their later life to the fullest.
And it would seem many expats are successful in their pursuit of happiness. Numerous studies have supported the idea that the grass is indeed greener overseas.
For instance, the release of the annual UN World Happiness Report, which ranks countries’ happiness by variables such as income, life expectancy, and freedom, shows that, as usual, Nordic countries are home to a large number of very happy expats, with Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland all in the top ten. Netherlands, which always ranks high in citizens’ happiness, ranked sixth.
Happiness is also a factor considered in HSBC’s comprehensive Expat Explorer survey, which showed that 40% of expats felt happier after moving. The percentage is higher for expats who’ve retired abroad (as opposed to relocating for work), with 55% reporting their spirits have been giving a boost since moving to their new destination. The popular expat destinations of Portugal and Spain had the highest percentages of happier expats, with 62 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.
One thing is certain from viewing these studies and the many others of their kind: no matter who you are, expat life has much to offer, and it’s extremely rare that someone does not feel they’ve benefitted in some way from living overseas.
At Blacktower, we aim to help expats fulfil their full potential abroad by offering bespoke financial advice, providing assistance with advantageous international pension transfers and wealth planning, so that they are never unnecessarily hindered by financial concerns. Many of our team are expats themselves, so we know what we’re talking about!