The balance of the expatriate spouse plays a crucial role in the success of an expatriation. However, the Covid complicates their integration, which is already naturally complex. This is what the second survey of the barometer of expatriation highlights. Conducted in March 2021 by Expat Communication and its partners, it brings together the responses of more than 600 expatriate spouses, spread over 94 countries and representing 37 nationalities.
The pandemic has transformed the perception of expatriation
I didn’t sign for that” emerges as a leitmotif in the comments of expatriate spouses. Indeed, their balance rested on the compensation of the sacrifices made to go on expatriation by greater personal and family fulfillment. Among the sacrifices made a hectic career and relative family estrangement.
As for the expected benefits: discovery, travel, and an intense social and associative life, professional reinvention.
The Covid with its confinements, travel bans and home schooling has profoundly upset this compromise.
This observation, resulting from an in-depth study of the results, is shared by all the age groups questioned. Nevertheless, expatriation is in no way called into question. The attraction of life elsewhere, of adventure and of the benefits derived from expatriation remains. But candidates for departure will take a closer look at the destination and the conditions offered.
A difficult integration
For 75% of respondents, integration in 2021 is difficult or even very difficult. Nothing very surprising when we know that in the structures facilitating integration, the school comes first. With the current pandemic and numerous school closures around the world, it is harder to fit in today.
This trend is confirmed, even for the most experienced in expatriation. Without children, it is not school that facilitates integration, but associations, voluntary activities, the professional network. All this work in slow motion when it is not stopped.
When spouses are asked if they have found their place, 37% answer in the affirmative.
But what about the remaining 63%? These are divided into two categories. 51% adapt, do their best, because they know it will be temporary. And 12% declare that they have not at all found a satisfactory balance in expatriation. A warning sign! A proportion in which all categories of age, duration of expatriation and destination are found.
The most experienced expatriate spouses express a feeling of wear and tear. The restrictions in place make estrangement from children, family and geographical celibacy more burdensome. Why make these sacrifices? The youngest expatriates recognize a disappointment with what they are experiencing. They hadn’t signed up for it. No more than young parents, restricted in their own activities by the weight of home schooling.