Why people emigrate: This is what our survey reveals

Published last week

Expat.com and global research agency, Kantar have teamed up to explore the reasons why people want to move abroad in 2019. The research also unveils countries preferred by expats and expats-to-be and reasons that make said countries attractive.

Who participated?

4762 expats and expats-to-be worldwide participated in this survey. 46% were expats and 54% are expats-to-be. Both were retirees, professionals, entrepreneurs or students. The survey was distributed amongst the members of Expat.com. Of all participants, 36% were women.

Please note some participants have checked more than one occupation.


Of the expats and expats-to-be who participated in this survey, 31% were retirees, 38% were professionals and the remaining respondents were students, entrepreneurs and unemployed.

Why do professionals want to move abroad in 2019?

Professionals who are moving abroad this year, or who want to move abroad have answered that the main reason behind their will to emigrate is a need for better career opportunities. And it is in Canada that most of them want to pursue these career opportunities.

Have these reasons changed?

Not really. Both expats-to-be and expats list career opportunities as the main reason for wanting to move abroad. The second and third reasons for expats to have moved abroad are familial reasons and looking for a better quality of life respectively. But expats-to-be seem to be looking in the direction of Canada while expats who had moved abroad for work were mostly in Saudi Arabia.

Why do retirees want to move abroad in 2019?

Most retirees, however, explain that they choose to spend their retirement in another country because they are after more pleasant climates and a change of scenery.

Have these reasons changed?

Retiree expats also list changing scenery and better climate as the main reason for wanting to move abroad.

Where do professionals want to go?

Professionals list Canada as their number one choice. The three main reasons why they listed Canada first were career opportunities, good quality of life and a brighter future for the children.

While Spain, the United States, France and Vietnam were also popular countries, an important percentage of expats-to-be had not made a choice on where they would want to go yet.

Where do retirees want to go?

Portugal, Spain and Thailand were respectively the most popular countries amongst retirees.

Who do future expatriates intend to go abroad with?

48% of expatriates intend to settle abroad with their families and 40% will be moving abroad alone. Only 12% of future expats who participated in the survey chose ‘other’.  This does not change much from past years as 48% of expatriates who participated in the survey indicated they moved abroad with their families while 42% have moved abroad alone.