Survey identifies problems of expats’ ‘trailing spouses’

The problems facing the “trailing spouses” of expatriates are highlighted in a new survey of more than 14,000 overseas assignees.

trailing spouse
The spouses – 84 per cent of whom are women – find problems getting work abroad despite the fact most are highly educated, with about half having post-graduate degrees.Expat Insider 2015, a survey compiled by the expat social group InterNations, included questions about the lot of trailing spouses for the first time."Only 24 per cent of the spouses have jobs, mainly because of many countries' restrictive rules on work visas for family members who are accompanying the primary wage-earner in a family," Malte Zeeck, InterNations co-founder, told the Wall Street Journal."It's very difficult for a travelling spouse to find an adequate job with payment options that are appropriate. They're highly educated, but a high share of them are staying home and not working."The survey found that 20 per cent of the travelling spouses were looking for work with another 20 per cent already working part-time. Almost two-thirds of the spouses said they found relocating abroad and having to give up previous careers to be "very hard".The survey found that life can be even tougher for expatriate families with children, often because of the cost of education and concerns over safety issues.Mr Zeeck said many respondents felt they did not get sufficient support from their employers, though most received assistance over such things as visas and relocation costs."But then anything else – like housing or help with finding housing, health care, organising the move, language classes – and the numbers go significantly down," Mr Zeeck added.However, the survey found that expats said the biggest relocation difficulty they faced was the absence of "their personal support network, family and friends". The second biggest concern centred on future financial issues, such as retirement and pensions.Overall, the survey, which involved expats from 170 different countries, found that Ecuador remained the favourite destination based on a variety of categories including satisfaction with life in general, leisure options, ease of settling in, cost of education and childcare, finding friends and travel options.Mexico moved up to second place and Malta was a surprise entrant at No 3. Last year, Switzerland came out top as far as "quality of life" was concerned but, this year, Singapore has emerged top, followed by Ecuador and Austria.Dividing up survey questions by gender this year, the survey found some marked differences. While Hong Kong, for instance, emerged top among women in terms of career opportunities, it was only ranked 35th among men.And while Thailand ranked No 3 among women for "ease of settling in", men only ranked it at No 13. Similarly, the UK was voted 23rd best by women for work-life balance, but it only came in 42nd among men.At the bottom of the overall rankings of 64 countries was Kuwait, primarily because of its lowly standing in the Ease of Settling-In Index. Greece was in 63rd spot and Nigeria ranked 62.The top 10 in the overall standings:
1. Ecuador
2. Mexico
3. Malta
4. Singapore
5. Luxembourg
6. New Zealand
7. Thailand
8. Panama
9. Canada
10. AustraliaFor more Re:locate news and features about partner and family support, click here

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