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10 most unoriginal expat destinations

Are you a female American manager in Germany, a British man teaching in Spain, or an Indian businessman in the Emirates? Then I’m afraid you’re among the world’s most unoriginal expats, according to the 2014 Expat Insider report from InterNations, an expat community with more than 1.4 million members.

We examined the report and picked out the top 10 most popular expat destinations and cross-referenced them with the Expat Insider rankings of overall satisfaction. It’s interesting that only three countries appear on both lists (USA, Switzerland and Spain), indicating that many expats might find a better quality of life in a country other than their chosen one.

If you’re thinking of upping sticks and starting a new life, maybe think about avoiding the obvious and pick somewhere different… like Ecuador, Indonesia or Czech Republic, all recently ranked in the top 20 for expat satisfaction (see graphic below).

expat-destinations

Expat Insider rankings of overall satisfaction do not correspond with the 10 most popular countries for expats below

1. Germany

expat-destinations-germany

Gender: 57% female vs. 43% male
Average age: 35.6 years
Top 3 nationalities: US-Americans 15%, Indians 7%, British 7%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 50%, Student 9%, Looking for work 7%
Average working hours: 39.2 hours/week

Safe and secure Germany is the EU’s powerhouse and thus draws huge numbers of expats relative to its population, making it the most popular choice for expats overall. However, the country only ranks number 12 on the overall satisfaction list. Weather and climate could be a bit better too.

2. USA

expat-destinations-usa

Gender: 62% female vs. 38% male
Average age: 39.6 years
Top 3 nationalities: Germans 11%, French 6%, British 6%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 49%, Self-employed professional 7%, Entrepreneur/business owner 7%
Average working hours: 42 hours/week

USA ranks 5th on the overall satisfaction list making it one of just three countries to make it into the top 10 of both lists (Switzerland and Spain being the others). Europeans still flood to the New World and are generally satisfied. However, they have to work for it long and hard with a high average of working hours per week.

3. UAE

Gender: 40% female vs. 60% male
Average age: 37.8 years
Top 3 nationalities: Indians 23%, Pakistanis 9%, Filipinos 8%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 68%, Entrepreneur/business owner 6%, Teacher/academic staff 5%
Average working hours: 45.6 hours/week

Rich in oil and opportunity, the UAE attracts expats in search of employment from all over the world, particularly Asia. Because of the different demographic here, expats are more likely to be male, older and work longer hours. Poor working conditions affect its position on the overall satisfaction list – in at number 33.

4. Switzerland

Gender: 64% female vs. 36% male
Average age: 38 years
Top 3 nationalities: US-Americans 11%, Italians 9%, Germans 9%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 58%, Looking for work 9%, Entrepreneur/business owner 6%
Average working hours: 42.3 hours/week

Peaceful Switzerland ranks at number four for overall satisfaction and helps to offset the high cost of living that displeases many expats. Excellent transport and travel conditions as well as strong healthcare and security services mean expats here are generally pleased with their lives.

5. UK

expat-destinations-london

Gender: 68% female vs. 32% male
Average age: 36.9 years
Top 3 nationalities: Germans 10%, US-Americans 9%, French 6%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 53%, Self-employed professional 8%, Teacher/academic staff 7%
Average working hours: 39.2 hours/week

Old Blighty still ranks reasonably well on the overall satisfaction list despite the weather and the cost of living (position 21). As long as you’re happy to live firmly off the property ladder and to carry an umbrella every day, you’ll be happy in the UK. Travel opportunities in the EU are unlimited and string trade ties support employment promises.

6. China

Gender: 53% female vs. 47% male
Average age: 38.2 years
Top 3 nationalities: US-Americans 17%, Germans 10%, British 8%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 44%, Teacher/academic staff 9%, Entrepreneur/business owner 9%
Average working hours: 42.5 hours/week

China is apparently a great place to work, but expats struggle to really settle and call the country home. Poor education and healthcare services mean despite providing more bang for your buck, China struggles to match western standards of living. The country ranks at number 38 on the overall satisfaction list.

7. France

expat-destinations-france

Gender: 65% female vs. 35% male
Average age: 40.6 years
Top 3 nationalities: British 17%, US-Americans 14%, Germans: 7%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 39%, Entrepreneur/business owner 8%, Looking for work 8%
Average working hours: 37.6 hours/week

France isn’t just for retired Brits even though Brits are the largest expat group there – not to mention the fact that France has one of the highest average ages among expats. Lack of career opportunities and difficulties with settling mean France ranks 40th on the overall satisfaction list.

8. Netherlands

Gender: 69% female vs. 31% male
Average age: 36 years
Top 3 nationalities: US-Americans 11%, British 7%, Italians 5%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 49%, Student 8%, Looking for work 8%
Average working hours: 38.2 hours/week

Education, work and transport connectivity make the Netherlands a desirable place for expats. Language barriers are not a problem for Brits and Americans since so many locals companies based there speak English. The country ranks 23rd on the overall satisfaction list.

9. Spain

madrid at night

Gender: 65% female vs. 35% male
Average age: 42 years
Top 3 nationalities: British 19%, US-Americans 10%, Germans 6%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager 34%, Teacher/academic staff 10%, Freelancer 10%
Average working hours: 38.4 hours/week

Spain is the last of the three countries to make the top 10 in both lists, ranking 7th for overall satisfaction as well as the 9th most popular for expats. Despite economic and employment troubles, Spain is still an extremely popular expat destination with Europeans.

10. Belgium

Gender: 63% female vs. 37% male
Average age: 37.6 years
Top 3 nationalities: US-Americans 8%, British 8%, Italians 7%
Top 3 employment status: Employee/manager, 52% Looking for work, 8% Student: 8%
Average working hours: 40.3 hours/week

Not a country of extremes, ranked at 29 out of 60 for overall satisfaction, Belgium draws a high number of expats mainly for work-related factors in both the public and private sectors. As the seat of the EU’s power and politics the country is a comfortable (but not the most inspiring) choice of expat destinations.

(Images: photoeverywhere.co.uk and Deamstime)

InterNations is the biggest expat community worldwide. They have 390 communities around the world. Their events are a great way to make friends. You can sign up for free here: InterNations.org

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