June 18, 2020
96% of Expats Committed to Life Abroad Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
In a recent survey of expatriates by ExpatExchange.com, almost all expatriates that have lived abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic remain committed to their international lifestyle.
In the survey, expats were asked:
"Rate how much you agree with the following statement with regard to your experiences as an expatriate: 'Living abroad is an important part of my life experience and I will continue to do so in the future.'"
Amazingly, 96% of the expats surveyed either Completely Agree (80%) or Mostly Agree (16%) with that sentiment.
The survey, conducted online May 20th - June 1st, 2020, consisted of 296 expatriates located throughout the world. In order to be included in the survey, respondents needed to live abroad at some point during the pandemic.
60% of Expats Worldwide Concerned about Health & Personal Safety During Pandemic
This commitment to living abroad does not mean that all expatriates are unconcerned about the threat of COVID-19. A majority, 60%, are at least moderately concerned about their "health and personal safety" during the pandemic.
Looking specifically at Europe, respondents who were at least moderately concerned about their "health and personal safety" stood at 72%, which was significantly higher than the global average of 60%. Mexico, Central America and South America, on the other hand, were significantly lower than the global average - 53% of expats in these countries were at least moderately concerned about their "health and personal safety."
50% of Expats Worldwide Confident in Their Local Health Care Systems during the Pandemic
A near majority of respondents, 50%, indicated that they were either Extremely Confident or Very Confident in the health care systems where they live. Twenty-six percent were somewhat confident, while 12% were slightly confident and 12% were not confident at all.
92% of Expats Living in Europe Confident in Their Local Health Care Systems during the Pandemic
Regionally, expats in Europe expressed a high degree of confidence in the health care systems in their countries. A whopping 68% of expats in Europe reported that they were either Extremely Confident (31%) or Very Confident (37%) in the health systems where they live. Add in the 24% of expats there who were Somewhat Confident, it brings the total to 92% for expats in Europe who expressed at least moderate confidence in their local health care systems.
72% of Expats Living in Mexico, Central and South America Confident in Their Local Health Care Systems during the Pandemic
Comparatively, 72% of expats in Mexico, Central and South America were Extremely Confident (18%), Very Confident (26%) or Somewhat Confident (28%) in their local health care systems, which is 20% lower than the expats in Europe.
While only 8% of expats in Europe were either Slightly Confident (5%) or Not Confident at All (3%) in their local health care systems, 28% of expats in Mexico, Central and South America were Slightly Confident (11%) or Not Confident at All (17%) in their local health care systems.
It may seem contradictory that expats in Mexico, Central and South America can be less concerned about their health and personal safety than those in Europe, but also have less confidence than expats in Europe in their local health care systems. However, this finding may be related to the fact that expats in Mexico, Central and South America often plan to return home in the event of a serious illness. This could be an area for further research in the future.
81% of Expats Remain Enthusiastic About the International Experience
Additionally, the vast majority of expatriates in the survey remain very enthusiastic about the international experience in the countries to which they have moved. Overall, 81% of expatriates were either Extremely Satisfied (43%) or Very Satisfied (38%) with their expatriate experience while living abroad.
Expatriates in Europe had the greatest level of satisfaction with their expatriate experience, with 90% of expats in Europe reporting that they were Extremely (55%) or Very Satisfied (35%).
Those respondents who relocated to Mexico, Central and South America, were slightly less enthusiastic about their expat experience, with 81% reporting as being either Extremely Satisfied (42%) or Very Satisfied (39%).
At the time of the survey, 9 out of 10 respondents indicated that they were not planning to move home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, Expat Exchange had just completed a "Best Places to Live in the World" survey in the lead up to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the full results of this study have not yet been published, a comparison of the two surveys has shown that expats have not had their opinions of their destination countries significantly impacted.
"Total lockdown, very limited movement stiff fines for breaking the quarantine if you are caught outside when
it is not your day. Only one day a week is allowed for groceries."
"Although the guidelines have been very imposed in my area (beaches closed, driving restrictions, and
businesses closed and tight shopping restrictions, I felt very safe. It was difficult to be closed up at home
for the most part, but with the beautiful scenery and weather in Costa Rica, Nosara to be more specific,
it was like a vacation. We have no difficulty getting food, it seemed that everyone followed the orders and
the decisions were well communicated through social media, TV and postings in public. Schools were
closed and kids were at home so our neighbor kids were in the pool playing and learning at home but
the families seemed joyful and tolerating well.”
"I live in Playa del Carmen. Non-essntial businesses are closed and we have a curfew 7pm-5am. We must wear
masks. People are very compliant."
"There's no beer!"
"Portugal did an amazing job. They’ve done so well that they are ready to reopen the country for tourism already.”
"A slow well planned opening throughout the entire country. A very supportive country, not the hate and disconnect
of the 50 unUnited States of North America."
"Germany quickly got the virus cases under control. We were allowed to leave home to grocery shop and do
other necessary things. I understand that businesses, even the self-employed, received funds from the
government shortly after the stay at home order was issued. Testing has been available from the first, as was
contact tracing. Health care workers monitored people with the infection and, from what I can see, got them to
the hospital immediately if there were breathing or other problems. Our case numbers have dropped dramatically
in the past month. Even though we're opening up, the virus case numbers are being closely monitored. So far,
so good. I feel much safer here than I would in the US."
"We are in a small town on the Costa Del Sol and had minimal cases. We were in total lockdown, everybody complied."
About Expat Exchange
Launched as Betsy Burlingame's graduate thesis project in 1997, ExpatExchange.com is the original social network for expats all over the world. Throughout our history, our goal has remained the same: to empower expatriates to help each other and gain from the experience of giving.