As global growth continues to push professional individuals across borders, expatriation becomes more and more common. With the year winding down, we can look at the changing environment for international business. Let's take a look at some of 2016's global mobility trends, focusing on where expats are going and what's driving that move.
Top countries maintain their dominance
According to BGRS's 21st Annual Global Mobility Trend Survey, the top international assignment destinations, which are listed below, have not changed since 2008.
- United States
- United Kingdom
Emerging expat destinations
The new trend in 2016 is the growing expat community in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico. Both have risen to top-five emerging assignment destinations in the past year.
Aside from the growing number of employees assigned to work in Mexico, the country continues its tradition of attracting retirees from the Americas. Not only is Mexico's cost of living significantly lower than surrounding countries, but it also ranks among the most welcoming countries for foreigners. According to Expat Insider, 79 percent of expats living in Mexico find it easy to make friends abroad, as opposed to the global figure of 12 percent of expats. Similarly, Mexico ranks first in ease of settling. According to expats living in Mexico, it provides the most comfort for people living abroad.
While expats in the UAE have suffered from declining work-life balance and job security, the country still surges as a top destination because of its lack of income tax. Similar cases can be made for both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Interestingly enough, it seems that both the UAE and Mexico, among other countries, present the greatest challenges for their expat workforce. Living in Mexico brings with it a concern for safety and lack of high education standards, while expats in the UAE are confronted with immigration delays and cultural challenges. Nevertheless, both countries continue to attract expats.
Competing for the top
China stands above the rest in 2016, as the number one emerging assignment destination. Its powerful economy and low crime rate attract huge numbers of expats, despite the health and family concerns that come with living there. The United States continues to be the most popular destination; however, healthcare remains a key deciding factor in how expats rate their experience working there. While many respond positively to the quality of healthcare, it isn't easily affordable.
Although the top expat destinations have remained unchanged for a number of years, the United States and China may suffer from growing concerns regarding healthcare and the environment. Mexico is expected to maintain its momentum in attracting the most Americans, while it's unclear whether or not the UAE's increasing cost of living will be significantly detrimental to its attraction abroad.