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Despite the challenges, it seems the dream of the expat lifestyle is still aspirational for some, with 23% of non-expats keen to make the move overseas. In particular, we are seeing a demographic shift away from mid/senior career movers, in favor of younger expats.
37% of those between 18 and 24, and 34% aged 25-34 said they were keen to move. In contrast, we see only 13% of those over the age of 50 wanting to do the same. Those locals most likely to want to relocate are those in the UAE (56%), Kenya (52%), Saudi Arabia and India (both 49%), compared with only 5% in Japan and 11% in the United Kingdom.
We have also seen expat numbers begin to rise, notably in Mainland China, where numbers increased by 14%, likely due to expats returning to the country having left in the early stages of the pandemic. We also seeing significant rises in India, 8%, as well as Singapore and Saudi Arabia which both increased by 6%. In contrast, Australia, whose borders only began to re-open as this study was conducted dropped by 5%.
Those who are already expats are broadly confident that they will remain so, with 32% saying they were confident they would remain as expats for the next two years, compared to 14% who said they would likely return home. However, 54% said they are undecided, highlighting the ongoing uncertainty many feel.
There are also regional differences emerging. Those who are living in Europe and Australia are more confident about expat life, with a significant majority saying they will remain overseas. In comparison, we see much lower levels of confidence from those in Asia, with only 5% of those in India and 16% of those in Mainland China, confident that they will remain.
The length of time someone is overseas also makes a huge difference. Only 9% of those who have been away from home for over five years said they would be likely to return home, compared to a quarter of those who have been away for less than a year. This presents a challenge to organizations as they try to bring in and retain new or young expats to stabilize their overseas operations.
23% of non-expats keen to move overseas
37% 18 - 24 year olds plan to become expats
13% of over 50's want to live overseas
Dr. Stella George, Chief Medical Officer, Cigna International Markets
Archana, Indian National, Middle East