The Top Ten Reasons Expats Moved Abroad in 2023

There are numerous reasons why people might want to move abroad. From work reasons to family, to just looking for a better quality of life, every expat will have different motivations.

The Expat Insider report from InterNations found the reasons why expats moved abroad last year, surveying a total of 12,065 expats representing 171 nationalities and living in 172 countries or territories across the globe. Below are the results.

Found a job on their own

The leading reason for people moving abroad in 2023 was because they found a job themselves. 15% of those surveyed cited this as the primary motivation.

It’s no surprise that moving abroad for work is a popular motive to leave one’s home country. There are many reasons why this is true. It could be that one’s home country has poor job opportunities and a poor economy. In this case, moving abroad to find work in a country with a booming economy might be the best way to secure a job.

It may be that another country has incentives to encourage people who have specific experience and skills to move there to work. Many countries have skill shortages in certain areas. In this case, they may have specific working visas to encourage people from overseas to move there to fill the gaps. This can be an easy way for people who have the right industry experience to not only find a job, but possibly be better paid than in their home country and also find the visa process simple.

Recruited internationally

The second reason that people moved abroad is because they were recruited internationally, with 10% of respondents citing this as the reason.

Similar to the primary reason of people finding a job themselves abroad, being recruited from an overseas company can help people to gain a better job role and higher pay. International companies may recruit from overseas if they are looking to fill a role that requires a specific skillset, experience, or qualifications.

Often, a country’s working visa will require sponsorship from an employer that’s based in that country. If a company has recruited an individual from overseas, they’ll likely be able to easily conduct the visa process and get them approved to live and work there. Companies that recruit internationally also often have good relocation programmes, which can help to simplify the process of finding accommodation in the new location.

To live in a partner’s home country

The joint second reason people named as motivation to move abroad was to live in a partner’s home country/for love. 10% of people surveyed cited this as their leading reason.

There can be many opportunities for people of different nationalities to meet and fall in love – whether while studying, travelling, or working abroad. However, people may only be in the same country temporarily and long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone, especially indefinitely. So, people may choose to move abroad to live with their partner in their home country.

Sent by employer

The next reason people cited as why they moved abroad is because they were sent by their employer – 9% of respondents had this as their primary reason.

There are many reasons why a company might decide to send an employee to work abroad. It could be that they’re setting up a new office in the country, but they want an established employee on-site to help support the business. This can help to bring vital experience and knowledge to the new office and the new employees.

A company might also identify skills shortages in an office that’s already established abroad. If an office looks to be lacking in a certain area, it can be beneficial to send an employee who has the required knowledge to work there and pick up the slack, as well as to teach the employees who are already there.

Overall, it would have been determined that sending an employee abroad to work will be of benefit to the business. Sending employees abroad involves outgoings such as accommodation, tax implications, and corporate health cover, so the rewards will have to outweigh the costs.

To go to school or university

9% of respondents cited going to school or university as the primary reason they moved abroad.

Studying abroad can bring huge benefits and can be an exciting experience. Those who go abroad to study will generally have fewer or no dependents, giving them freedom to experience life in another country without having to also accommodate for others.  

Studying abroad can be a simple way to immerse yourself into another culture. Sometimes, an individual may choose to study abroad because they feel the education on offer is of a higher quality than in their home country, or they may find a specific course that isn’t available elsewhere.

Many countries offer visas for studying abroad, which can make it a simple process to move abroad for the period that the individual will be at school or university. While these visas are generally temporary, many people may find employment after studying and so will be able to then switch to a working visa, if they choose to stay abroad.

Better quality of life

8% of respondents said they moved abroad to find a better quality of life. This is obviously quite a broad reason. There can be many contributing factors to finding a better quality of life.

A better quality of life could relate to an individual’s working conditions. For example, many people move abroad to Scandinavian countries because they typically provide better work life balance, especially around family priorities. Others may find they can earn a higher wage working the same role abroad than in their home country.

Others may determine a better quality of life as related to the lifestyle. Some countries might have a more relaxed way of doing things, with less focus on working and careers and more on leisure and spending time with loved ones. Other countries might offer a climate that is more preferable – whether that be warm or cold – which can make an individual’s day-to-day more enjoyable and fulfilling.

For their partner’s job or education

6% of respondents said they moved abroad for a partner’s job or education. Known as “trailing spouses” there are many people who move abroad because their partner has found a job overseas or wants to study a specific course in an overseas institution.

While there are specific challenges that are faced by these so-called “trailing spouses”, many partners who move abroad primarily because of their partner’s job or studying are excited to move abroad and immerse themselves in a new culture. It’s important that the whole family take steps to reduce partners feeling isolated or unfulfilled because they have had to make sacrifices in their own careers to follow their partner.

Other family reasons

5% of respondents cited other family reasons as being their motivation to move abroad. This is a very broad reason and can cover a multitude of factors.

People might move abroad to be closer to elder family members who live in another country. They might want to be on hand for caring and support as a family member’s needs increase. People may want to move abroad to give their children a better quality of life, especially if they see education opportunities as being better than in their home country.

Obviously, family is a priority in many people’s lives. While moving abroad is a big step, it is often worth it to benefit our loved ones.

Looking for an adventure or challenge

5% of people said they moved abroad because they wanted an adventure or a personal challenge. This is a common reason for moving to a new country and is likely to be involved in nearly every reason on this list, even if it’s not the primary motivator.

Moving to a new country gives an individual the chance to experience a whole new culture. They can immerse themselves in a different way of life, try new foods, new activities and meet new people. They’ll have the challenge of learning a new language and navigating new processes, systems, and societal norms. For people who have grown tired of their regular way of life, moving abroad is a fantastic way of shaking things up.

To retire

4% of survey respondents said they moved abroad to retire. It’s not a surprise that this was one of the top reasons people move abroad. Many people dream of moving to a new country when they no longer have to work. Retirees often have fewer dependents, with grown-up children and few caring responsibilities, so they have the freedom to move abroad where they like.

Many people move abroad to retire in a location that offers a more relaxed and low-key way of life. Often retirees choose to move to warmer climates that can now be fully enjoyed without having to spend the day working. Many countries have specific visas for retirees, helping to make the process simple.

Are you moving abroad?

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