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Living the expat lifestyle successfully is no easy feat.
There are so many factors to consider, besides the obvious expatriate package on offer.
There’s schooling for the kids, the ease of integration and the job satisfaction to be had, for example. Also currency conversions, property prices and the costs of living.
All of these can factor into how suitable a country may or may not be for relocation.
But an often-overlooked factor when deciding on whether a move abroad might be right for your career is the work/life balance on offer, particularly with regards to standard holiday entitlements.
When you start digging into the subject, it becomes immediately clear that different countries around the world have startlingly different opinions about how much holiday is reasonable.
Take Spain, for example. The average Spaniard enjoy 30 days of vacation time each year. In essence an entire month off to enjoy themselves. It’s the kind of figure that has Brits (with their 25 days) or Americans (with their 15 days) green with envy.
Even better, unlike many other countries, Spaniards expect to take every last day of holiday time they’re entitled to. In Spain, as numerous studies have found, quality of life comes first, and economics have to come second.
However it’s not good news all around the world. As it turns out, according to the recent Expedia Vacation Deprivation survey, not only do many countries offer far less holiday as standard, but even taking these very limited periods of free time can be problematic.
Japan is an obvious target. Long known for its “workaholic” attitude, where many workers get in at the crack of dawn and stay late into the night, the average worker in Japan benefits from just 20 days of holiday per year. That’s just two thirds of that offered in Spain to workers doing essentially the same tasks.
It gets worse, however, when you look into just how many of these days the Japanese actually take. According to the study, workers on average take just 12 days of vacation time a year, willingly giving up 8 days of paid holiday to ensure they don’t fall behind with their work.
Coming bottom of the league, however, is South Korea. Here the workers average just 15 days of holiday (half of Spain) yet take just 6 of these. That means that 9 days of holiday each year are left untaken. This makes South Korea the most “vacation deprived” country on earth according to Expedia.
In South Korea workers report that more than twice as many bosses disapproved of holiday time than supported it. As a result they felt uncomfortable taking their full complement of vacation time.
The message here is simple. If you care about your quality of life when moving abroad for work, taking the time to understand the cultural norms. That way you can feel confident about “signing on the dotted line” without having to worry about raised eyebrows when you want to fly home to see family and friends.
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Expatriate Group & Expatriate Healthcare are trading styles of Strategic Insurance Services Limited who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA Firm reference Number is 307133. Strategic Insurance Services Limited is authorised to carry on Regulated Activities in accordance with the permissions granted by the FCA under PART IV of the Financial Services and Markets ACT 2000.