For the seventh time, InterNations, the world’s largest expat community, with nearly 4 million members, has released the Expat Insider survey. With more than 12,000 respondents, it is one of the most extensive surveys on living and working abroad, providing information on the lives of expats in 59 destinations.
Globally, 45% of respondents say COVID-19 had an impact on their current stay abroad or on their relocation plans: the proportion of expats who say so (37%) decided not to return home in the near future (18%), who had planned to move to another country, but had to change these plans (8%), will move to another country due to the pandemic (6%) or return home earlier than originally planned (5%). The proportion of local respondents whose relocation plans were affected by COVID-19 (61%) is much higher: some of them lived abroad but moved home earlier than expected (18%) , others had planned to move abroad but had to change their plans (35%) and about one in ten have decided to go abroad due to the pandemic (9%).
The impact of the pandemic on everyday life
Of course, COVID-19 has not only altered the plans to move expatriates around the world. When asked where they see the greatest impact of the pandemic on their personal lives right now, respondents point to its effects on personal travel (25%), social life (23%), and work or business (16%) to private. In the long run, respondents remain concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their social life (17% of all respondents) and there are also significant concerns regarding personal travel (22%).
How expatriates stay informed about COVID-19
Expatriates around the world rely primarily on official government channels (48%), local news (47%) and social media (40%) for news on the situation of COVID-19 and regulations related to its country of residence. Given the importance of government channels, to what extent are expats satisfied with the official communication on COVID-19 and related regulations? Worldwide, not nearly two-thirds (66%) value this factor positively, and about a quarter (24%) say they are completely satisfied. The main complaint among expatriates who are dissatisfied with official communication about the pandemic is that the information is unclear, confusing and / or contradictory (67%). For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked 12,420 expatriates representing 174 nationalities living in 59 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expatriates ’lives, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate up to 37 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The grading process emphasized respondents ’personal satisfaction with these aspects, taking into account both emotional issues and more factual aspects of equal weight. Respondents’ assessments of individual factors were grouped into several combinations for a total of 13 subcategories and their average values were used to develop five topical indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working in the Foreign, Personal Finance and Cost of Living. The top four of these indexes were promoted along with the overall satisfaction of expatriates with their lives to rank 59 expatriate destinations worldwide. In 2021, the top ten are Taiwan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Canada and Vietnam. In addition, expats were asked about how COVID-19 has affected their lives abroad; however, these responses did not influence the overall classification.
For a country to appear in the indexes and, consequently, in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants by destination was required.