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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

French Expats: Adventurous & Cosmopolitan

French people abroad mainly move for job-related reasons, speak many languages, and are highly educated.
  • Most have lived abroad before
  • 36% speak the local language very well
  • Two-thirds have a postgraduate degree
  • Écoles françaises a popular option for French expat kids

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics on the French Abroad — infographic

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A Cosmopolitan People

French people living abroad are generally satisfied with their lives, as attested by 82% of the respondents, which is a slightly higher percentage than the global average of 78%. Indeed, they enjoy the cosmopolitan lifestyle to the point that close to seven in ten French respondents (68%) have lived in at least two other countries before. Worldwide, less than half of all survey participants (49%) can say the same. Consequently, for only 16% of French abroad is their current experience also their first stay in another country, which is eleven percentage points less than the global average. More than one-quarter of the respondents (26%) also admit to having the desire to stay in their current country of residence forever, if possible.

Between Job Opportunities and Adventure

When asked about their reasons for moving and with multiple answers possible, 31% of the French respondents say they found a job and 28% were looking for a personal challenge or adventure. This is also reflected in the factors that French participants very much regarded as potential benefits prior to the move: general living standards (61%) and the economy and labor market (58%) are what French expats-to-be were looking forward to the most.

A Good Position in the Workforce

Once abroad, the French typically work as either employees or managers (52%), as opposed to the global average which is eleven percentage points lower. Those employed occupy mostly senior and expert positions (21%), followed by those with less than two years of experience (20%) and those with more than two years of experience (20%). French retirees abroad, on the other hand, are somewhat rarer than the global average with 3% against 8% overall.

Money Is Not a Problem

In their new country, around five-ninths of the French respondents (55%) confirm having an overall higher income compared to back home, which is mostly on par with the global average of 54%. Over two in five (42%) also say they have absolutely not suffered from a loss in personal income in the host country. The lower than average percentage of French expats with a disposable household income of 25,000 USD or less a year (18% vs. 30% on average) seems to support this statement.

The French Polyglots

Living in different countries seems to help French people improve their language skills, too. In fact, over two-fifths of the respondents (43%) say they speak three languages and 23% even speak four. Just 1% of French abroad say they only speak one language, a significantly lower portion than the global average of 12%. Additionally, French people seem to be keen on learning the local languages of their host country, as they are reportedly spoken very well by 36% of the French people living abroad. Only 12% say they do not speak the local language(s) at all. Unsurprisingly then, the language barrier is not at all a problem for half of the French respondents.

Highly Educated

The French are not only well educated when it comes to languages, though. A rather impressive 66% possess a postgraduate or Master’s degree. Worldwide, only around two-fifths of expats (41%) can say the same.

Speaking of education, French parents with dependent children abroad seem keen to provide their kids with an education similar to what they would receive back in France. While worldwide only 7% of parents say they have chosen to send their children to a national school abroad, over one-fifth of French parents (22%) say they picked an école française.

The Great Romantics?

The French are stereotypically very romantic people. However, of the French living abroad, only 56% are involved in a relationship, as opposed to the global average of 63%. Two-fifths of the respondents say they have a French partner, whereas 32% are with a partner who comes from another country, and only 28% have a partner from the country they are currently living in.

Further Reading