While traditional expat destinations either for professionals or those moving for a better lifestyle include Australia, the USA or Europe, countries like China and Russia are becoming increasingly popular. This is mainly due to the many economic difficulties Europe and the USA are currently experiencing. Expats outside Europe, in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia or Bahrain are also better off and are offered higher salaries.
According to a recent survey, emerging markets are increasingly among the most common destinations for expats sent on overseas assignments. 21% of companies say that China is the most common destination for relocating their workers. Other popular destinations include India, Vietnam and the Middle East.
The number of assignments is also on the rise, with 47 per cent of organisations reporting an increase in assignments over the last year, with almost half of the companies expecting growth for the next year. Assignments lasting between one and three years are the most common and make up over 60% of all of these numbers.
As the Global Mobility Survey concluded: “This year’s results indicate a return to activity levels not seen since 2007 suggesting that, regardless of regional economic woes, multinational corporations are mobilising workers to fill skills gaps and develop talent, especially in emerging markets.”
Moving abroad for an international assignment can be an exciting opportunity for many workers as it can enhance their career opportunities and allows them to travel and to get to know a new culture at the same time.
Challenges For Expats
Relocating to a different culture, however, can also be difficult for many expats, and the report highlighted China, India, Russia and Brazil as some of the most challenging areas, mainly because of the significant cultural differences.
While a longer assignment allows expats to settle down to an extent, full integration is much more difficult, especially if the expat expects to eventually continue his career in the UK and if the language spoken in the destination country is not English. Many expats are unwilling to disrupt their social or personal lives for a temporary overseas assignment.
It is also important to consider that while many of these emerging economies can offer good professional and financial opportunities, the conditions for bringing up children and the lifestyle are still preferable in Europe, including France or Spain for many expats.
Another factor that can increase the challenges of relocating abroad is when an employee’s spouse is unwilling to move and leave his or her career behind for the partner’s overseas assignment. As the report says: “Dual career issues are today one of the most common reasons for assignment rejection. This trend is often visible among young employees under 35.”
Whether an overseas assignment is a suitable choice for you, will always depend on your individual circumstances, the appeal of the assignment and the international destination. Before going on an assignment, however, it is always important to consider all factors and to negotiate a favourable relocation package with your employer.