Results Survey n°2: What is the place for expatriate spouse at the Covid time ?

A fragile and threatened balance .... The balance of the expatriate spouse plays a crucial role in the success of an expatriation. However, Covid complicates their integration, which was already naturally difficult. 

Focus on this 2nd survey of the expatriation barometer. Conducted in March 2021 by Expat Communication and its partners, this survey allowed us to gather more than 600 responses from expatriate spouses in 94 countries and representing 37 nationalities. 

A different perception of expatriation

"I didn't sign up for this"

Testimony of an expatriate spouse. A shaky balance that generally relies on compensating for the sacrifices (made to go abroad) with greater personal and family fulfillment. Among these sacrifices: a hectic career and a relative distance from family. As for the expected benefits: discovery, travel, an intense social and associative life, professional reinvention.

Covid, with its confinements, travel bans and home schooling, has profoundly altered this compromise. This observation, based on an in-depth study of the results, is shared by all age groups surveyed.
Nevertheless, expatriation is in no way called into question. The appeal of life abroad, the adventure and the benefits of expatriation remain. But would-be expatriates will look more closely at the destination and the conditions offered.

A difficult integration

For 75% of the respondents, integration in 2021 is difficult or very difficult. This is not very surprising when you consider that in the structures that facilitate integration, the school comes in first place. With the current pandemic and the numerous school closures around the world, it is more difficult for expatriates to integrate

This trend is confirmed, even for the most seasoned expatriates. Without children, it is not the school that facilitates integration, but the associations, the volunteer activities, the professional network. All of this is slowing down or even stopping.

A disrupted balance

When spouses are asked if they have found their place, 37% say yes. But what about the remaining 63% ? They are divided into two categories.

  • 51% are adapting, doing the best they can, because they know it will be temporary.
  • And 12% declare that they have not found a satisfactory balance at all while expatriating.

A warning sign ! This proportion is found in all categories of age, duration of expatriation and destination.

The most experienced expatriate spouses express a feeling of wear and tear. The restrictions in place make the distance from children and family and the geographical celibacy more burdensome. Why make these sacrifices ?
The youngest expatriates recognize that they are disappointed by what they are experiencing. They did not sign up for this. 
Neither did the young parents, who are restricted in their own activities by the weight of home schooling.

The pursuit of a professional career

85% of expatriate spouses were working before their departure. Expatriating to discover another country does not mean stopping working.

  • While 17% take a voluntary break, 83% of spouses seek to return to work.

This is a difficult mission, which requires adjustments to the type of job, the pace of work and a salary that is often lower than before leaving. 
To help them in this mission, 57% believe that professional support would be important.
Resilient and adaptable are therefore adjectives that apply perfectly to expatriates and more particularly to spouses. Reinventing oneself with each expatriation, coping in times of crisis and keeping one's balance and that of one's family is a balancing act. 
In this period of crisis, preparation and support to allow one to continue to move forward serenely become essential so that expatriation is still a fulfilling experience.

Each month, find the results of our surveys conducted among expatriates. 
Our next meetings :  

  • The expatriation package : Results mid-May.   
  • The return from expatriation : participate at our survey for may 2021 

If you would like to join the Expatriation Barometer 2021 board and have access to all the analyses, please contact us. And to learn more about the Expatriation Barometer, follow this link. 

Together, we care for international talents

Board members

Together, we care for international talents

Sabine Garnier-Posez

After her studies and a professional career in economics and accounting, Sabine moved with her family, first to Morocco, Brazil, Germany and now in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Sabine is part of Expat Communication as Project Manager of the Expatriation Barometer.



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