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InterNations Reveals the Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Work Abroad

Munich, 11 October 2017
From improving your income to speeding up your career to becoming smarter or learning a new language — there are plenty of reasons why you should leave your country and become a modern-day pioneer now.
  • InterNations, the largest expat community worldwide, turns ten this year. Based on a decade of experience with crossing borders, bridging cultures, and connecting global minds, the social network reveals the top 10 reasons for working abroad.
  • There is a good chance that moving abroad can improve your financial situation: more than half the expats around the world say they earn more than in their country of origin (51%), and one-quarter states their income is a lot higher than back home (24%).
  • A majority are happy with their career prospects abroad (53%), with one expat in seven couldn’t be any happier when it comes to their career options (14%).
  • Multilingualism seems to come naturally to expats, with 84 percent speaking two languages and 22 percent four or more.

Munich, 27 September 2017 — InterNations, the largest expat community worldwide, is celebrating its tenth anniversary together with 2.8 million members in 390 cities. Based on a decade of experience with crossing borders, bridging cultures, and connecting global minds, the company now reveals the top 10 reasons why you should work abroad. “Looking for a personal challenge and getting to know different cultures and customs has become more important than ever,” says InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck. “Academic research proves what we have known since the day we founded InterNations: gaining international experience by working abroad does not only improve your income and career, but also makes you smarter and more communicative.” To honor those modern-day pioneers who have decided to pursue a career abroad, the social network is hosting the world’s longest birthday celebration on 7 October, all the way from New Zealand to the other side of the globe.

10 Reasons Why Working Abroad Is a Great Idea

The information on which the list is based is drawn from various sources: several academic studies regarding life abroad, the InterNations member base of 2.8 million, and the network’s annual Expat Insider survey. With nearly 13,000 respondents living and working abroad, it is one of the most extensive expat studies in the world.

1. Improve Your Income

A study by the American Psychological Association shows that 61 percent of Americans worry about money, and 40 percent of Brits share these concerns, according to research by market intelligence agency Mintel. But chances are that moving abroad can improve your financial situation: more than half the expats around the world say that they earn more than in their country of origin (51%), and nearly one-quarter state that their income is a lot higher than back home (24%). One-fifth of expats (21%) even have a yearly household income of more than 100,000 USD, and another 26 percent have between 50,000USD and100,000 USD at their disposal.

2. Speed Up Your Career

About three in ten expats (31%) mention their job or business as their most important reason for relocating. Working abroad seems to live up to their expectations: only about one quarter view their career opportunities negatively (26%). On the other hand, more than half of the respondents — twice as many — are happy with their career prospects (53%). One in seven even couldn’t be any happier when it comes to their career abroad (14%). InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck explains: “Our research shows that career opportunities vary strongly by country. Ambitious expats should consider a move to emerging markets like Kazakhstan or Vietnam, or to the USA, while those who are more concerned about job security and a strong local economy will like Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland.”

3. Discover Your Genius

A study by William W. Maddux from INSEAD Business School found that learning about and adapting to new cultures improves problem-solving skills among MBA students enrolled in an international program. After living abroad for almost one year, those who showed an open-minded attitude towards other cultures were also able to make more complex connections between disparate ideas. This is a very valuable talent, not only in your personal life, but also for your career: “We put great emphasis on the international experience of our employees,” says InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck. “By doing so, we encourage innovation and out-of-the-box thinking in our teams.”

4. Become More Creative

Angela Leung from the Singapore Management University demonstrated in her study that experiencing diverse cultures has a positive effect on creativity: students who were exposed to two different cultures at once did not only show better creative performance, but they were also more likely to engage in creative processes, such as the generation of unconventional ideas. Therefore, it might not be a surprise that nearly one in ten expats (9%) work in the arts (e.g. in music or the performing arts).

5. Build a Global Network

On average, expats are connected with five other nationalities, as representative research among the 2.8 million InterNations members shows. When this result is compared to available data from social media platform Facebook, the following trend emerges: expats are far more likely to have a global network than a local one. The Facebook study did show that social connections on their platform are very locally clustered, with 84 percent of all connections being between users living in the same country. On InterNations, however, 35 percent of the connections cross borders and bridge cultures around the world, while only 65 percent are local.

6. Learn a New Language

For one in ten expats, improving their foreign language skills was one of the reasons for moving abroad. However, far more seem to have benefitted linguistically from their relocation: one in three expats speaks the language of their new home at least a little, and over two-fifths (43%) feel confident communicating in the local language. Moreover, representative research among InterNations members shows that 84 percent of those who are currently living abroad speak at least two languages — and over one in five (22%) even know four languages or more.

7. Be a Modern-Day Pioneer

Whether it was a settler in the seventeenth century searching for a new world, an engineer developing new technologies or a start-up founder revolutionizing society, what unites all pioneers is the bravery to move towards the unknown. It is that same spirit that defines an expat. No matter if expats move for their work and career (31%), love and family (25%), a better quality of life (8%) or in search of adventure (7%) — the moment someone decides to move abroad, they are a modern-day pioneer. They crave the new, the unique, the unexplored, and the unknown — just like those intrepid pioneers of the past.


8. Improve Your Communication Skills

Intercultural communication is not just about language, but rather about cross-cultural competency. As expats start to settle in abroad and feel at home in the new culture, they become more open-minded, tolerant, and find it easier to overcome cultural differences, says Rona Hart from the University of East London in her book Preparing for Your Move Abroad: Relocating, Settling in, Managing Culture Shock. She further explains that one is less quick to judge others and begins to tolerate opinions and actions that may have been dismissed before.

9. Find a Better Work-Life-Balance

While an astounding 58 percent of employees in the study of the American Psychological Association feel stressed out by work, the circumstances seem to be a lot better for those who have decided to work abroad. About six in ten expats specifically state that they are satisfied with their employment situation (64%), work-life-balance (60%), and job security (57%). Up to one in five even say that they could not be any happier with those aspects (17% and 19% each for the latter two). A similar share of respondents also express satisfaction with their work hours: 61 percent rate this factor positively, 38 percent of which are completely satisfied.

10. Trust the Opinion of 42.5 Million Working Expats

Market research company Finaccord estimates in its Global Expatriates report that there are about 42 million individual workers and 500,000 corporate transferees worldwide; together, they make up about three-quarters of the global expat population. Compared to 2009, this is a growth rate of about three percent for both categories, so there is definitely a trend of more and more people looking for assignments and new positions abroad. And let’s face it: 42.5 million working expats around the world cannot possibly be wrong!

A Global Celebration of Crossing Borders, Bridging Cultures, and Connecting Global Minds

To honor those modern-day pioneers who have opened their minds to the world and explored the unknown, InterNations is hosting the world’s longest birthday celebration on 7 October, starting in Christchurch, New Zealand all the way to Los Angeles, USA. Do you want to learn more about what it is like to be an expat in your country and become part of a global community? Be a modern-day pioneer yourself: take part in our tenth anniversary celebration in one of 200 cities and get to know people from all over the world! Find your city here.

To receive a personal press invitation, please contact or +49 (0)89 461 3324 79 and let us know in which community you are planning to attend the celebration.

About the Research

Unless specified differently, all mentioned data originates in the Expat Insider 2017 survey. For its annual 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. Additionally, data from the InterNations member base of 2.8 million around the world as well as various scientific studies were used to complement the list (use links to access studies).

About InterNations

With more than 5.3 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.

Find more information about InterNations on our press page or in our magazine.

Press Contact

InterNations GmbH
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80335 Munich, Germany
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