Who are expats?

The Financial Times Lexicon describes an expat as “an employee who is sent to live abroad for a defined time period.” Expat website http://www.internations.org goes further to define an expat as “someone who temporarily…lives in a different country than the one they were born in or whose nationality they have.”

The UK Home office considers a ‘long-term migrant’ as someone who has lived outside the UK for longer than a year. In 2012 there were approximately 4.7 million UK long-term migrants, with the largest proportion (59%) remaining abroad for an average of 1-4 years. Unofficial statistics released by the U.S. State Department in 2011 estimated 6.32 million U.S. citizens (excluding military) are currently living outside of the United States, the largest ever figure recorded.

The trend for corporate global relocation continues to rise in line with global economic recovery rates. The UK Home Office reports a sharp rise of expats in professional and managerial occupations over the past 10 years. A look at the Guardian’s interactive map shows a decline in popularity of  ‘retirement’ destinations like France and Spain whilst corporate hotspots Canada, USA and emerging countries such as the UAE continue to rise.

As the number of professional expat postings increases, HR departments and consultancies are conducting more research, to determine how to successfully manage foreign assignments. Often what a company offers in terms of relocation assistance doesn’t relate to an understanding of the emotional pressures placed upon expats. It is here, at the core of the market, where expat literature offers something which travel literature cannot: information, empathy, and reassurance.

Reference links:


Murray, R. et al. Emigration from the UK: Research Report 68 (November 2012, 2nd Ed.) http://www.gov.uk.

Oliver, C. et al. Where do UK expats live? – Interactive guide (December 2012) http://www.theguardian.com

Permits Foundation. International Survey Summary Report: Expatriate spouses and partners employment, work permits and international mobility (April 2013, 2nd Ed.)

Permits Foundation. International Mobility and Dual Career Survey of International Employers (September 2012, 2nd Ed.)