Expat Love around the World
Munich, 31 January 2018 — With Valentine’s Day coming up in only two weeks, many couples are getting ready to celebrate their relationship. But for expats, the special day of love can be a whole different story: they might be in a long-distance relationship, have trouble finding a partner abroad, live in a country where they have to hide their sexual orientation, or have to deal with the challenges of a multicultural relationship. InterNations, the largest global network for people who work and live abroad, tells you everything you need to know about the romantic lives of expats. The data is based on the annual Expat Insider survey, one of the most extensive expat studies in the world, with close to 13,000 respondents.
Unhappy in Love: Long-Distance Relationships
Over one in eight expats in a relationship are currently separated from their partner by international borders (13%), and they are not happy about it: one in five is dissatisfied with their long-distance relationship (20%), compared to only five percent of those who live close to their partner. Moreover, expats in a long-distance relationship are substantially less happy with their life in general (74% vs. 81%). Career-focused expats, such as Foreign Recruitees (30%) and Assignees (28%), are most likely to be in a long-distance relationship, followed by (Ex-)Students (24%). The latter might also be one reason why the highest share of expats in a long-distance relationship is 25 years or younger (27%), while the likelihood of having a long-distance relationship sinks rapidly with growing age. International long-distance relationships are most common among expats from Egypt (28%), the Philippines (24%), and India (23%).
All Alone in a New Country: Single Expats
Expat women (39%) are more likely to be single than expat men (30%): even though the most important reasons why women leave their home country include moving for their partner’s job or education (16%) and wanting to live in the same country as their partner (12%) — compared to only three percent of men stating the first and ten percent mentioning the latter. Moreover, regardless of gender, among those who originally moved for love, the romance did not necessarily live forever: one in ten is single now. And the lack of romance seems to be getting them down: twelve percent of single expats are unhappy with their life in general, just slightly more than those in a global long-distance relationship (10%) or those living close to their partner (9%). Venezuelans (51%), Nigerians (45%), and Italians (43%) in particular are often single, while Swiss (77%), Dutch (76%), and Danish (75%) expats are most likely to be in a relationship.
Happy with Their Lives: Expats in a Same-Sex Relationship
LGBT expats are less likely to be with someone from their own country (33%) compared to all expats in a relationship (44%). In fact, 45 percent of LGBT expats date someone from their new country of residence, and 23 percent are romantically involved with someone from a third country. When asked if they had ever felt unwelcome due to their sexual orientation, nearly every expat in a relationship with a partner of the opposite gender disagrees (97%), while only 64 percent of LGBT expats feel the same. Two percent even say that their sexual orientation makes them feel unwelcome abroad all the time. However, this does not seem to affect their happiness with life overall: expats who are in a same-sex relationship are even slightly happier with their life in general (85%) than those in a heterosexual one (80%).
Mix and Match: Intercultural Relationships
More than half of all expats in a relationship (56%) are in an intercultural one: more than one-third has a partner from the country they live in (35%), and another 21 percent are in a relationship with a third-country national. Men are a bit more likely to meet their significant other after having moved abroad than women (31% vs. 26%). While expats from India (84%), Pakistan (83%), and South Africa (68%) tend to stick together, those from Mexico and Denmark are most likely to date someone from their new country of residence (46% each), followed by Australians, Austrians, and US Americans (45% each). The Finnish are most likely to fall in love with someone from another country altogether (34%), followed by Hungarians and Swiss expats (33% each).
About the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 Survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up six topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living Index. Except for the latter, all indices were further averaged in order to rank 65 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2017 the top 10 were Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.
For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per country was necessary. The only exception to this is the Family Life Index, where a sample size of more than 40 respondents raising children abroad was required. In 2017, 65 and 45 countries respectively met these requirements. However, in most countries the sample size exceeded 100 participants.
With more than 4.1 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking and socializing, both online and face to face. At around 6,000 events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include discussion forums and helpful articles with personal expat experiences, tips, and information about life abroad. Membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust. InterNations is part of the New Work SE, a group of brands that offer products and services for a better working life.