When Love Knows No Borders: Expat Relationships
Expats living in the Middle East are most likely to be in a long-distance relationship. Expats in a same-sex relationship are more likely than average to move for a partner's job.
This section takes a look at expatriates who are in a committed relationship. These expats were asked to answer questions about where they met their partner, which country their partner is from, and how satisfied they are with their relationship. By asking for information about the gender of participants' partners, this year's survey also provides data on same-sex relationships.
Among the total survey population, 62% say they are in a committed relationship. Women are somewhat more likely to be single than men (44% vs. 33%). However, the likelihood of being in a relationship steadily increases with age, from 43% for those aged 25 and below to 69% for those aged 51 and above. As the male survey respondents are on average a bit older than the female participants (43.1 vs. 38.9 years), this might explain this result.
The expat types Traveling Spouses and Romantics originally moved abroad because of their partner. However, only 92% and 85%, respectively, say they are currently in a relationship. (Ex-)Students and Career Expats are least likely to have a significant other. Only 46% of the former and 51% of the latter say that they are in a relationship right now.
Trends by Country and Nationality
Expats living in Kenya, the Philippines, Finland, and Bahrain are most likely to be in a relationship (74% each). Among women, India is the top destination for those in a relationship (73%). Male expats living in South Korea are the most likely to have a partner (84%).
On the other end of the spectrum, in Belgium only half of the survey participants are in a relationship. With 39%, female expats in the Czech Republic are least likely to be in a relationship. For men, the UK has the lowest percentage of respondents in a relationship (56%).
Overall, Danish expats are most likely to have a significant other (74%). Looking at men and women separately, most Indian women abroad are in a relationship (76%), while 81% of men from Denmark have a partner. In contrast, expatriates from Indonesia (38%) are the nationality least likely to be in a relationship.
Where Do Expat Partners Come From?
Among the participants who are currently in a relationship, 56% are with someone from a different country. Expats aged between 36 and 40, as well as between 41 and 50, are most likely to be with someone from the same country (46% each). Respondents aged 51 and above, as well as those aged 25 and below, are most likely to have a partner from their current country of residence (37% each).
A whopping nine out of ten expats from India (89%) are in a relationship with someone from their home country. On the other hand, expats from Ireland are least likely to be together with a compatriot (17%). Expats living in Peru (72%) and the Philippines (66%) are most likely to be in a relationship with a local resident.
Where Did They Meet?
Unsurprisingly, of expats who are in a relationship with someone from their country of origin, 86% met their partner in their home country. In contrast, only two in ten expats who are in a relationship with a local resident met their partner in their own home country. A further 63% met their partner in their current country of residence and the rest of the couples (18%) met in neither partner's home country.
Of expats who are in a relationship with another expat, the highest percentage (36%) met their partner in their current country of residence. About one-quarter (26%) met their partner in a country which neither one originates from, two in ten met their partner in the partner's home country, and the lowest percentage (18%) met their partner in the respondent's home country.
Among those expats who met their partner before they moved (72% of those in a relationship), only 44% moved together with their partner. For 17%, their partner already lived in their current country of residence. At 12% each, either they moved first and then their partner followed or vice versa. The final 15% are currently in a long-distance relationship.
Women are more likely than men to follow their partner after the latter has already moved (18% vs. 6%). Older expats aged 51 and above are most likely to move together (51%), while those aged 25 or below are most likely to state that their partner still lives in another country (30%).
Among all expats in a relationship, 14% are currently not living in the same country as their significant other. Among those expats who met before their move, 10% of women are in a long-distance relationship, but a full 20% of men. Among parents with dependent children, only 3% have a long-distance relationship.
Of all expats in a relationship, those in Kuwait are most likely to not be living abroad with their partner (39%). Long-distance relationships are also likely for expats in several other Middle Eastern countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as some African countries including Nigeria and Tanzania, with percentages ranging from 27% to 30%. Expats living in South American countries are least likely to be in a long-distance relationship, with 2% each for Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina.
In general, 3% of expats in a relationship report not being at all satisfied with it. Three-quarters of all these expats are generally satisfied with their relationship, and four out of ten are even completely happy. Just like last year, older expats (aged 51+) are the happiest in love. Eight out of ten rate their relationship positively and nearly half of them (49%) are completely satisfied with their relationship.
Expats in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Malta are the most satisfied with their relationship. Those living in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Hong Kong are least satisfied. Among expat types, Traveling Spouses and Romantics are the luckiest in love, with about half completely satisfied (49% and 50%, respectively). Conversely, Career Expats and Foreign Assignees are least happy in their relationships. Here, only about one-third (32% and 35%, respectively) describe themselves as completely satisfied with their relationship.
Expats in Same-Sex Relationships
In this year's survey, expats had the option of answering whether their partner is male or female. This question, as well as the question about the survey participant's own gender, was optional. Almost everyone answered the question about their own gender, and 97% answered the question about their partner's gender. In total, 212 men and 137 women say that they share the same gender as their partner. Among all respondents who say they are in a committed relationship, these same-sex relationships make up 4%.
The average age of expats in a same-sex relationship is 43.0 years, a bit higher than the average of all expats, i.e. 40.9 years. About two in ten expats in a same-sex relationship say they moved abroad for their partner's job or education (19%), well above the average for all expats with partners (14%). A further 15% say they moved for love, slightly above the average for all expats in a relationship (14%).
A higher percentage of this group of expats is in a relationship with someone from their host country than the global average for expats in a relationship (40% vs. 32%). Only 38% are in a relationship with someone from their home country (global average for expats with partners: 43%).