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Living Abroad with Children: The Best Places for Raising a Family

Munich, 8 April 2015
The InterNations Expat Insider survey reveals where expat parents can keep their children safe and sound

Munich, 08 April 2015 – Based on an international survey among expatriate parents, InterNations (, the largest network for people who live abroad with more than 1.5 million members worldwide, found that Scandinavia and France are the best places to live abroad with children whereas the Middle East, China, Brazil and India have the lowest ratings. Most children living abroad attend an international school or a local state school and speak two or more languages. The information is based on the InterNations Expat Insider survey, which is among the most extensive studies ever conducted regarding the general living situation of expats and covers topics such as overall quality of life, personal finance, working abroad, making friends and family life abroad.

Where Expat Families Thrive

A move abroad means an adjustment not just for parents, but for their children alike. The length of a family’s stay abroad is not necessarily determined by factors such as career prospects or living costs only, but also by the children’s health and safety, as well as the availability of childcare and education. The InterNations Expat Insider survey found  that the best destinations for families who wish to live abroad are Scandinavian countries Sweden and Denmark as well as France, which are all very popular for their modern family policies: Almost all expatriates in Sweden (97 percent), Denmark (97 percent) and France (93 percent) are satisfied with the well-being of their children, whereas globally only 85 percent of expat parents have the same opinion.

Education around the World

More than one third of expat parents (35 percent) choose to enroll their children in an international school, followed closely by 30 percent sending their children to a local state school. About two in ten parents (19 percent) enroll their children in local private schools. Local state schools are chosen most often in North America and Europe. In several South American countries, as well as in South Africa, the Philippines, and Turkey, local private schools are the most popular option. In Asia and the Middle East, most expat parents prefer to send their children to international schools.

Four out of the five top countries in the category ‘quality of education’ are located in Europe with Switzerland ranking first in this category. A majority of children in Switzerland (53 percent) attend local state schools. About one quarter (27 percent) are enrolled in international schools. Singapore, the only non-European country in the top five, comes in second place in this category. Here, more children attend international schools (51 percent) than state schools (22 percent). Ranks three to five in the ‘quality of education’ category go to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Expat Child – A Linguistic Genius?

At school and through other activities, many expat children are learning more languages than their parents speak to them at home. Every second of them is being raised bilingually, while 36 percent of those expat children even grow up in a multilingual environment with three or more languages spoken. Compared to their expat parents, children are more probable to speak the local language very well (33 vs. 27 percent) or even as their mother tongue (18 vs. 10 percent). With 95 percent each, parents living in Mexico, the Philippines and China place particular emphasis on raising their children to speak multiple languages.

When it comes to the 14 percent of expat children who speak only one language, they are the most common in English-speaking countries such as Australia, the USA and Canada. This is likely due to the high number of them hailing from other English-speaking countries and thus reducing the necessity to learn another language. The lowest numbers of expat children who speak one of the local languages can be found in India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the UAE, and Oman. In each of these countries, over two-thirds of the children attend an international school or a private school with a foreign curriculum such as Deutsche Schule.

Where Not to Take Your Children

Almost two in ten expat parents (19 percent) are living abroad without their children and 84 percent of these are men. The three countries where most parents are living abroad without their children are all located in the Middle East – the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Many expatriates are in these countries on temporary assignments and therefore choose not to bring their family with them. Furthermore, when it comes to the availability as well as cost of childcare and education, Qatar occupies the bottom ranks while Saudi Arabia really loses in terms of quality of education and family well-being. Other countries such as Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, India and Egypt pose health and safety concerns for families. Those results are not unexpected when comparing how expatriates in these countries rate their feeling of personal safety, political stability and peacefulness. 

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.

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Country-specific versions are available in different languages in the download section at the end of each press release and upon request.