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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Trouble in Paradise: What Expats Struggle With

Expats under 30 struggle with the loss of their support system the most. People in India say finding a partner is particularly difficult and Traveling Spouses don't like being dependent on their partner.

From Culture Shock to Relationship Struggles

Although expat life can be an enriching experience, there are also various problems that expats in particular face. More than half (52%) miss their personal support network, landing this specific concern on the top of the list. Those between the age of 26 and 30 struggle with the loss of their support system the most. Luckily, only a small percentage of expatriates has a hard time making new friends (26%), is struggling with the language barrier (26%) or culture shock (22%), or is tired of expat life and wants to settle down (21%). Moreover, only 10% say that the move has been bad for their psychological health.

Of course, these results vary according to the respondents' destinations. For instance, 65% of the survey population in New Zealand struggles with the loss of their personal network, and 40% have a hard time making new friends in Denmark. Survey participants in Kuwait are particularly tired of expat life (53%) and expats in Israel are more prone to culture shock (40%).

Romantic problems seem to take a backseat for most expats. Still, 38% of single respondents say the expat lifestyle makes having a relationship rather difficult. Again, this is particularly the case for expats between 26 and 30, 45% of whom struggle with this. Moreover, India seems to be a destination where finding a partner seems especially hard, according to 49% of single survey respondents.

Among those who moved with their partner or family, only 15% say their loved ones are unhappy with the decision to move. The percentages are higher in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, however, with 23% and 27%, respectively. Both countries occupy the bottom ranks of the Personal Happiness subcategory in the Quality of Life Index.

Expat Problems

The most common expat problems - infographic
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Money Matters and Business Concerns

Altogether, 40% of all respondents worry about their future finances. This is particularly the case among expats in Greece, where a whopping 71% agree with this statement. Moreover, expats between 36 and 40 are especially prone to financial worries. On the upside, only 30% of the general survey population has suffered a loss in personal income.

Traveling Spouses and expat parents don't have it as easy. Among them, 56% and 35%, respectively, have experienced a loss of personal income. For expats over 50, who struggle relatively little with other problems, this is also the main concern.

Moreover, 39% of all participants under the age of 26 have a particularly hard time adjusting to a new work environment, compared to 33% on average. In Japan, this problem is particularly prevalent, with 48% of respondents agreeing that the local business environment is something they struggle with. When it comes to the lack of a professional network, it is Traveling Spouses who feel this the most (47%).

Problems of Traveling Spouses

While Traveling Spouses are also affected by the issues mentioned above, there are additional problems expat spouses have to face. Moreover, due to their specific circumstances, they are often hit harder by some problems. The biggest concern of Traveling Spouses is being financially dependent on their partner, according to 65% of them. All in all, 45% agree completely that they don't like the loss of their financial independence. Moreover, 56% have suffered a loss in personal income and 60% find giving up their previous career difficult.

Traveling Spouses have the lowest amount of weekly working hours (34.6) and are more likely to work part-time than other expat types. Most of them are homemakers, or work as freelancers or volunteers.

But it's not just the career and financial issues that Traveling Spouses struggle with. In fact, 52% say that their partner is always working long hours, while 51% feel they are expected to organize all the practical aspects relating to their move and life abroad. However, only a little over one-third of expat spouses (37%) believe they are expected to always put their partner first.

Only 27% of spouses feel discriminated against due to their gender. This issue is a lot more prevalent among female Traveling Spouses. All in all, 12% of them even agree completely, while the same is true for only 6% of male Traveling Spouses.

Further Reading