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Expats’ Ecu-adore!

  • Written by  Tom Hayes
  • Published in Cultures
Ecuador, who wouldn’t want to live here? Ecuador, who wouldn’t want to live here? Natursports
13 Feb
A 2014 study, The World Through Expat Eyes, has found Ecuador to be the country with the most content expat population

The report, produced by InterNations – an international network for people living and working abroad, analysed responses from nearly 14,000 expats living in 61 countries as part of a desire to discover their reasons for relocating, their happiness once the relocation has been completed, and how they find life abroad. Expats were asked to judge their adopted nation on different issues across a number of categories – personal finance, family life, ease of settling, their work life abroad, and quality of life – and ranked each nation accordingly.

Perhaps surprisingly, Ecuador emerged as the overall winner – coming top in the personal finance and personal happiness categories and scoring highly when considering ease of settling into their new life by expats. 91 per cent of expats reported that they were satisfied with their life in Ecuador, with 42 per cent of planning to reside there ‘possibly forever’. The sole negative to an expat’s life in Ecuador was seemingly that 37 per cent felt that it would be very difficult to live in the country without speaking Spanish, although that drawback is tempered somewhat when 30 per cent of the same respondees describe learning the language as ‘very easy’.

top-expat-destinationsThe top expat destinations across the globe (Image: InterNations)

One reason why Ecuador could rank so highly is that most of the expats who move there do not do so for work purposes, with Ecuador having a higher percentage of retirees (39 per cent) and older people (the average age of expats in Ecuador is 52.8 compared to the global average of 39.5) amongst their expats, suggesting that those moving to Ecuador are financially secure before arriving, leaving them free to enjoy the country’s pleasures unfettered by economic concerns.

Ranked second on the list, Luxembourg was mainly carried there through its high ranking concerning aspects of an expat’s working life, with 89 per cent of respondents satisfied with their lot – despite Luxembourg coming a lowly 50th out of the 61 nations in terms of how happy expats are with their personal life. Perhaps because of this, only 28 per cent of respondents envisaged themselves staying in the country for ‘the long run’. This is in contrast with third-placed Mexico, where almost half (44 per cent) of expats interviewed felt that they would like to permanently settle in the country because of the ease of settling in and quality of life they achieve, despite concerns over job security and workplace issues.

expat-typesThe ‘ten types’ of expat (Image: InterNations)

Of the bottom three countries, Greece scored very low due to their current economic woes – coming last in categories concerning how happy expats were with their financial situation and sufficiency of their household income, their career prospects and job security. Saudi Arabia seemingly suffers from a lack of leisure activities (54 per cent of participants dissatisfied with what is accessible to them), thus scoring low in the Quality of Life index and coming 60th out of the 61 nations. Kuwait, meanwhile, comes firmly last with the majority of expats finding it near impossible to settle there – a mere five per cent feel completely at home there, and only seven per cent find it very easy to befriend locals.

This inability of Kuwait’s expats to make local friends is seemingly endemic within the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s expat communities responding in kind. One theory behind this is that it may simply be due to the considerable number of expats that reside in these nations with expats in other Middle Eastern countries often settling in expat-only neighbourhoods and attending expat events, clubs and associations – an ‘Expat Bubble’ or ‘Costa del Sol Syndrome’ if you will. This is illustrated best by the percentage of respondents who stated the majority of their friends were other expats: 71 per cent in Qatar, 54 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 70 per cent in Kuwait.

• The top three countries that British expats export themselves to are Germany, France and Spain (each receiving six per cent of the British outgoing population)
• British respondents are far more likely to call the climate in their foreign host country ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ (63 per cent) than expats in general (46 per cent)
• Britons are more likely than any other nationality to want to stay abroad ‘possibly forever’. 42 per cent of British expats responded saying that, the next highest being the Americans at 36 per cent, and the average for all nationalities 26 per cent
• 18 per cent of Britons have lived in five or more foreign countries, compared to a 12 per cent general average
• British expats are half as likely to speak a given foreign language fluently than expats in general, with 37 per cent asserting they can speak their local language fairly well or fluently. The lack of linguistic variety in English expats isn’t seemingly a major issue – only 34 per cent of British respondents agreed that not speaking the local language made it harder to live in their host countries, and are more likely to make friends with locals than the average
• One in five British expats makes over $150,000 USD (compared to one in eight for all nationalities)

• 86 per cent of expats in Britain are happy with their lives in Britain
• 68 per cent of expats living in Britain are female – far higher than the 53 per cent global average
• The top three nationalities residing in Britain are Germans (ten per cent), Americans (nine per cent) and French (six per cent)
• 90 per cent of expats speak positively about British transport systems – far higher than the global average of 20 per cent
• Only one per cent of expats consider Britain to be unsafe, or politically unstable
• 70 per cent of expats feel at home in British culture – exceeding the global average of 63 per cent – and only 12 per cent find it challenging to get used to the local culture

• 53 per cent of global expats are female
• The average age of an expat is 39.5 years
• 26 per cent of expats expect to stay in their new country ‘possibly forever’, with 24 per cent seeing themselves there for more than three years
• The country with the greatest number of expats is Germany, with the USA in second and the UAE in third
• The vast majority of expats (87 per cent) had attained a university degree – with only one per cent of respondents having no formal qualifications at all
• The primary motivation for expats moving abroad was related to work – 29 per cent moving because they’d either found a job themselves (16 per cent) or because they were sent by their employer (13 per cent)

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