Expats in Germany not concerned about the eurozone crisis, survey reveals

by Ray Clancy on November 6, 2012

Expat Explorer survey highlights the impact of the Eurozone crisis on expats

While expats within the Eurozone are feeling the impact of the economic climate most acutely, those in Germany are bucking the trend seen elsewhere in the region, a survey shows.

In contrast to most European expats, those living in Germany report a very positive outlook in the current state of the economy in the HSBC Expat Explorer survey 2012.

Some 91% of expats in Germany believe that the economic situation in their country is either getting better or staying about the same, with 86% reporting that they are satisfied with the current state of the economy.

In addition, the majority of expats in Germany, 61%, think that things are generally heading in the right direction compared to a global average of 37% and 67% associate the country with strong political stability.

While Germany is in a stronger economic position than some of the European nations included in this year’s survey, the country also attracts a different type of expat, which could help further explain the differing view of expats living in the country, the report says.

Expats in Germany are likely to be career driven expats who have chosen to relocate to take advantage of job opportunities or financial gain as opposed to other European destinations that are popular with retirees or expat experiencers who move for a better quality of life.

For example, France and Spain remain popular with expat retirees and 41% and 32% of expats in France and Spain respectively are retirees compared to only 7% in Germany. In contrast, more than half, 55%, of those who moved to Germany expected to benefit from a better job, compared to just 33% in France and 29% in Spain.

In addition, 49% of expats in Germany moved there expecting financial gain, compared to just 22% and 18% of expats in France and Spain respectively.

As a result, expats in Germany have a different demographic make up to those in many other European countries. Some 23% expats in Germany earn between $100,000 and $200,000, in stark contrast to those based in Spain where fewer than 8% earn a salary in that range. They are also most likely to be working in the IT and internet sector (14%), manufacturing and construction (12%) and science and research (10%) and tend to be from English speaking countries such as the USA (25%) and the UK (15%).

The Expat Explorer survey this year highlights the impact of the Eurozone crisis on expats in the region. Expats in Spain are feeling the impact most acutely, being twice as likely (39%) to feel that their country is off on the wrong track than the global average (19%).

In turn, this has affected Spain based expats. Some 58% of expats living in Spain said they thought the country is getting worse for expats. Although not quite as pronounced as Spain, expats in other European nations including the UK (44%), Netherlands (43%), Italy (37%) and France (33%) are also more likely than expats globally (28%) to believe their country is getting worse as a place to live and work.

Satisfaction with the economies of the Eurozone countries is similarly bleak. While those in Spain are most likely to report dissatisfaction with the current state of the economy (92%), expats in Italy (70%), the UK (68%), Belgium (53%) and France (48%) are also more likely to be dissatisfied with the current state of the economy than satisfied.

However, despite the pessimism towards the current economic environment, expats in Spain are proving extremely resilient to Eurozone woes. No expats in Spain are actively looking to leave Spain in favour of their home country or another expat posting, compared to a global average of 13%. In fact 74% are intending to stay. Similarly, expats in the UK and France are also, by and large, intending to stay in their country with 71% and 69% respectively intending to stay put compared to a global average of 62%.

The countries that are showing marked resilience have a strong contingent of expat lifers, that is expats who have lived in their current country for at least three years. In the UK, 89% of expats have lived in the country for more than three years, alongside 68% in Spain and 61% in France. In addition, a high proportion of expats in France (41%) and Spain (32%) are retirees, much higher than the global average of 9%. It seems that while economic conditions might be difficult in the current country, expats in these nations have a long term mindset and so are willing to weather economic fluctuations.

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