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Why the expat lifestyle appeals to millennials

By January 24, 2018October 3rd, 2023FinGlobal

Why the expat lifestyle appeals to millennials

January 24, 2018


The term ‘millennial’ is given to the generation born between the early 80s and the early 2000s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Database, millennials make up one-fourth of the planet’s population, which translates into 1.7 billion people. Millennials are very different to the generations that precede them.

They have grown up in a digitally enabled, media fragmented society and they are very adept at multitasking and balancing their digital and physical lives. Their familiarity with the digital world makes them more at ease with everything global. They are citizens of the world rather than a specific country and tend to be open-minded risk takers – making them the perfect expat generation.

Millennials searching for work/life balance

A Nielsen Global Survey, which explored millennials between 2013-2016 across more than 60 different countries, reports that millennials are a social, community-driven generation that places a strong emphasis on the voice of the individual.

They are a demanding generation who are not prepared to compromise and place strong emphasis on the work/life balance. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the United States, where work/life balance is in short supply, US millennials are flocking overseas looking for international job opportunities in countries where there is a better work-life balance than their home country.


The report lists the factors that a country must have to be the ideal place to live and work, these include:

  1. Affordable housing
  2. A good income
  3. Offer an enjoyable job
  4. Be in a vibrant community
  5. Allow for continuing education
  6. Be in an environment not overrun with gentrification or pollution
  7. Have access to reliable and affordable healthcare
  8. Provide safety at both work and play

Aspiration and ambition

Millennials aspire to see the world and have the trappings of a successful life. The expat lifestyle offers them the opportunity to do both with virtual employers – that allow them to work from abroad, often on their travels, using technologies like Skype and Slack. Today’s startups value innovative and independent thinking – and embrace new input from employees in different cultures. As long as the work is produced to the highest standard, an international lifestyle and perspective is seen as an advantage.

Portable careers

Unlike traditional careers like lawyers and doctors, that require that expats adhere to country regulations – and often require additional training before an expat can work abroad in a new country, millennials are often drawn to portable careers. Portable careers tend to be in high-demand skillsets that embrace new technology that’ globally available like web designers, writers, video editors and filmmakers. Millennial expats seek an improved work culture abroad and more than half of expats (52%) aged 34 or younger rate their work culture in their host countries better than it was back home.

For more information about financial emigration from South Africa, foreign exchange services, retirement savings and claiming tax refunds, contact FinGlobal today.

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