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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Where Expat Lovebirds Roam

In general, half of all expats are completely satisfied with their relationship. However, those braving a long-distance romance often find it takes a toll on their relationship.
  • Respondents in their 40s are most likely to be with someone of the same nationality.
  • Only 13% of expats in a relationship are attempting a long-distance romance.
  • In the Philippines, Romania, and Argentina, the majority is in a relationship with a local.
  • Only 3% of respondents in a relationship have a partner of the same gender.

Love and romance are big topics for expats around the world and often a reason for moving. When asked if they’re in a committed relationship, 65% of all survey respondents answered yes. Looking at the gender split, expat men are more likely to be in a relationship (70% of men vs 61% of women). Expats over the age of 36 are also more likely to be taken: of the respondents between 36 and 40, as well as 41 and 50, 70% are in a committed relationship. The majority of expats aged 25 and younger is single.

Happy Expat Couples

Respondents who are in a relationship are generally happy with it (84%), and 50% even indicate that they’re completely satisfied. Expats aged 51 and above exceed the average: a whopping 57% are completely satisfied. Of the expat types, the Foreign Assignee struggles the most: 79% are satisfied, but only 39% are completely happy.

Among survey respondents, the Swiss seem to be a particularly romantic bunch — 77% are in a committed relationship, closely followed by the Dutch (76%) and Danes (75%). Venezuelans are more likely to be single: about half (51%) are not currently in a relationship. The same is true for Nigerians (45%) and Italians (43%).

Their Partner’s Nationality

More than half of all respondents (56%) are in a relationship with someone who is not from their home country; 35% are dating someone from their country of residence.

When looking at the different age groups, respondents in their 40s are most likely to be in a relationship with someone who shares their nationality (47%). The youngest and the oldest age groups, those below 25 and those above 51, are most likely to be in a relationship with a local from their country of residence (40%).

When it comes to expat parents, almost half (48%) are in a relationship with someone of the same nationality. Of the expat types, Traveling Spouses (65%), Foreign Assignees (56%), and Foreign Recruitees (55%) are most likely to date someone from their home country. Romantics are most likely to be with someone from their country of residence (88%).

When and Where Do They Meet

Half of all respondents in a relationship (50%) say they met their partner in their home country, perhaps unsurprising given that 44% have a partner with the same nationality. Respondents aged 30 and below are more likely to find love abroad — more than a third of expats in their late 20s (36%) met their partner in their current country of residence. Respondents in their late 30s are more likely to have met their partner or spouse in a third country (21% vs. 18% globally).

More than half of all expat parents who are in a relationship (55%) met their partner in their home country, and nearly four out of five (78%) met their partner before moving to their current country of residence. In fact, expat couples in general (72%) seem to find each other before their move. Interestingly, men are somewhat more likely to have met their partner abroad (31%).

Top Countries for Relationships

Argentina, Portugal, Bahrain, Cyprus, and Mexico are the top 5 places for happy expat relationships. Between 61% and 76% of respondents in these countries are in a committed relationship.

When it comes to happiness, 73% of respondents in Bahrain are completely satisfied with their relationship, followed by 68% in Cyprus, and 65% in Argentina. A total of three-fifths in Mexico couldn’t be happier with their expat relationship, and the same is true for 59% in Portugal.

The average age of expats in a relationship is well above the global average of 44.4 in three of the five countries mentioned above. At 53.6 years old, Portugal has the highest average age among expats in a relationship, followed by Cyprus (51.1) and Mexico (51.0). Argentina, on the other hand, seems perfect for younger love birds, with an average age of 39.2 among expats in a relationship.

In two of the top 5 countries — Bahrain and Cyprus — the majority is in a relationship with someone from their home country, 76% and 61% respectively. In Argentina, many expats (56%) are in love with a local. This could be due to the openness of the population. One respondent from Sweden said “people are much more social, nicer, and warmer here”.

Portugal, on the other hand, seems to be a great place for a truly intercultural relationship: 35% of expats in a relationship have a partner who is not from their home country or from their country of residence.

Romantics, whose main reason for moving was to be with their partner, are most likely to be found in Argentina (31%). In Bahrain, on the other hand, Romantics are somewhat of a rarity, accounting for only 2% of expats.

Long-Distance Relationships

Only 13% live in a different country to their partner, and male expats are more likely to find themselves in a long-distance relationship (16% compared to 10% of expat women).

Expat types like the Romantic or the Traveling Spouse who moved for love are not likely to be braving the distance: 98% live in the same country as their partner. For Foreign Assignees and Recruitees, however, 28% and 30% respectively are in a long-distance relationship. One in five expats in a long-distance relationship (20%) is unhappy with this aspect of their life, significantly more than expats whose partner is in the same country.

Over half of expats in a long-distance relationship have kids (52%). However, only 38% of expat women living in a different country to their partner have children, and 42% of expat men in a long-distance relationship have kids that aren’t staying with them.

Long-distance relationships are comparatively less common in the top 5 countries where expats are happy with their relationship. The exception is Bahrain where 18% find themselves in a long-distance relationship, compared to the global average of 13%.

Many expats living in Myanmar (38%), Saudi Arabia (33%), and Nigeria (29%) have a partner in another country. This relationship model is also quite common among expats from Egypt (28%), Philippines (24%), India (23%), or Malaysia (23%).

Swedes and Mexicans prefer to date someone in the same country — only 3% and 7% respectively are in a long-distance relationship. Percentages for expats living in Ecuador and Chile are also very low (4%), and not one respondent in Greece is dating someone who lives in another country.

Expats in Same-Sex Relationships

In total, 97% of expats in a relationship disclosed their gender. Of these expats, 97% also included information on their partner’s gender. Altogether, 69 women are in a relationship with another woman, and 196 men are involved with another man. These 265 respondents make up about 3% of all expats in a relationship.

Although same-sex expat couples have similar results to expats in a relationship generally, there are some differences. Only 11% are currently raising children abroad, compared to 36% among all expats in a relationship and 26% among all survey respondents. Only one in ten (10%) named their partner’s job or education as their primary reason for moving, and 19% primarily moved for love.

Among expats in same-sex relationships, a high percentage are in intercultural relationships: nearly one in two (45%) is with someone from their country of residence, and 23% are romantically involved with a third-country national. Many met their partner in their current country of residence (39%), while 16% met in another country altogether.

The percentage of same-sex expat couples in long-distance relationships (13%) is the same as the average for all non-single respondents. Much like all respondents in a relationship, expats in a same-sex relationship are generally satisfied (87%).

Further Reading