Malta attracts IT professionals and Norway entices with its favourable work-life balance, while expats in Luxembourg enjoy excellent job security.
For its annual Expat Insider survey, published in October 2015, InterNations, the world’s leading social network and information site for people who live and work abroad, asked more than 14,300 expatriates representing 170 nationalities and living in 195 countries or territories to rate and provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality.
The expat work week
According to InterNations, the average expat works a 42-hour week, with 86% in full-time and 14% in part-time positions. While the global average of 31- to 35-year-old expats working full-time remains as high as 91%, there is a huge dip in the number of those above the age of 50, with 79% of them working full-time.
“We see a shift towards part-time work in this age group, and therefore a slight reduction in the number of weekly working hours to 41 hours among the respondents who are aged 51 or older,” says Founder and co-CEO of InterNations Malte Zeeck.
Foreign assignees work the most, with 46.1 hours per week, followed by foreign recruitees (44.7 hours) and career-oriented expats (44.1 hours). Travelling spouses, on the other hand, only have a 34.6-hour workweek, which is not surprising considering that 39% of them work part-time. Expat parents only spend slightly less time at work than expats without children: expat dads still work 45.7 hours per week in full-time positions, and 26.1 hours if they have a part-time job. On average, expat moms work less with 43.1 hours in full-time positions or 22.9 hours part-time. Even among the general survey population, men work slightly longer hours than women (44.2 vs. 39.7 hours). They are also a lot less likely to work part-time than women, with 90% of men working full-time compared to 82% of women.
From a global perspective, it is expats over-50 who are happiest with their work life, closely followed by workers in their early thirties.
Zeeck explains: “Finding the perfect balance between work and life can prove to be an ordeal for many expats. Countries such as Norway, Finland or Denmark provide ideal conditions for expats with the world’s shortest working weeks of about 40 hours. At the other end of our rankings, foreign residents in Uganda, Nigeria, the Philippines and Panama are working up to ten more hours per week than their counterparts in Scandinavia.”
Best and worst career destinations
Malta ranks first in the Expat Insider 2015 survey for overall job satisfaction, with seven in ten expats generally satisfied and 27% completely satisfied, compared to a global average of only 16%. In terms of career prospects, only the US and the United Kingdom rank higher. Other popular destinations for those in search of an interesting job and good career opportunities are China, Mozambique, Luxembourg and Poland. The lower end of the Job & Career ranking is dominated by European countries: Out of 64 countries overall, Italy, Portugal and Greece — all of them suffering economically — offer the least favourable job opportunities for foreign residents.
Work-life balance around the world
Sweden, Norway and Malta occupy the top ranks when it comes to work-life balance, while Saudi Arabia, India and Kuwait are at the bottom. Expats in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as Malta, are also the most satisfied with their working hours, while those in Turkey, Greece, and Chile are the least happy with this aspect.
The Working Abroad Index ranks countries according to various factors from three different areas: job and career, work-life balance, and job security. In total, 64 countries are included in this index and questions rated on a scale of one to seven and were used to draw up topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living.