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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Spaniards: Looking for Better Careers Abroad

Spanish expats mainly move abroad for work-related reasons and tend to stay for a moderate amount of time. They also speak many languages and are highly educated.
  • A quarter found a job abroad on their own
  • 57% have a postgraduate or Master’s degree
  • Spaniards are generally habitual expats
  • But most plan to return home

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics on Spaniards Abroad — infographic

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Moving Abroad for Work

Work-related reasons are the driving factor behind Spanish people leaving their sunny country to live abroad. In fact, 26% found a job abroad on their own, which is eleven percentage points more than the global average, while a further one in five has been sent to their host country by their employer. In line with these results is the fact that 66% of Spanish expats consider the economy and/or labor market in their future host country as the biggest potential benefit prior to moving. And if they did not move for their own job, 12% moved because of the partner’s job or education.

Top-Notch Education and Improved Incomes

Spaniards are highly educated: four in seven respondents (57%) have a postgraduate or a Master’s degree, which is a rather impressive 16 percentage points higher than the global average. What is more, a further 7% possess a PhD or similar credentials. The second largest group is composed of 27% of the respondents who have attained a Bachelor’s degree, while only 1% say they do not have any degree at all.

The Spanish abroad mostly work as either employees or managers, making up over three-fifths of the respondents (61%). Between this and the second largest group there is a huge gap: 9% are still looking for a job abroad, a number on par with the global average. The remaining respondents mostly work as freelancers (7%) or teachers, researchers, and academic staff (6%). Their jobs abroad seem to benefit Spanish expats as well, seeing as 68% state that they earn generally more than in their country of origin, which is a notably higher percentage than the global average of 54% who say the same.

Living Abroad, but Not for Forever

Generally speaking, the Spaniards do not aim to live in their host countries for a very long time. In fact, more than three in ten (31%) say they have been living there for anywhere between six months and two years, whereas just 12% have been living there for more than ten years, compared to a worldwide 22%. These figures seem to reflect economic reality in Spain, which has seen a big increase in emigration since 2008, even recording net emigration since 2012. However, most of the highly skilled graduates leaving the country to look for employment elsewhere are set to return one day: while a bit more than one-quarter (26%) plan to stay abroad for least three years and 23% between one and three years, only one in five has the wish to stay there possibly forever. This is a considerably lower percentage than the global average of 31%.

Moderate Travelers

While they do not plan to stay in their host countries forever, Spaniards do however like to move around quite a bit. For the vast majority (87%), their current stay abroad is not their first, whereas worldwide less than three-quarters (73%) can say the same. In fact, 13% of Spanish respondents say they have been living in five or more foreign countries previously. Another quarter has lived in two other countries before and 21% in one other foreign country.

No Solo Hablo Español

Possibly because they need them for their work abroad, Spaniards are keen language learners, with 14% even citing improving their language skills as one of the reasons for their move. In fact, 36% say they speak three languages, including their mother tongue, as opposed to the global average of 31%. There is a smaller percentage of 27% that even speaks four languages, which is 8 percentage points more than the global average of 19%. A further 17% speak five or more languages.

When it comes to the language(s) of their host country, four-sevenths of the respondents claim to speak them generally well (57%), whereas 17% have no local language skills at all, which is 5 percentage points more than the global average. Still, the language barrier is generally not a problem according to three out of five Spanish expats (59%).

Further Reading