Skip to Content

The 10 Types of Expats (Reasons Why People Move Abroad)

Ever wonder why people move abroad? It’s easy to think of workers and retirees, but what about the rest of us? What are the different types of expats?

Expat types

10 Types of Expats

In this detailed infographic (by Internations), you’ll learn about the ten types of expats. (See the full inforgraphic below.)

Here is the full breakdown of ten types of expats.

10 Reasons People Move Abroad

  1. The Foreign Assignee: Typically sent to a specific country (often India, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Nigeria) by their employers and works a solid 46+ hours per week.
  2. The Career Expat: Often move to countries such as Bahrain, Belgium, Kenya, Luxembourg, or Oman with work contracts they found on their own.
  3. The Foreign Recruitee: Recruited by local employers from countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman or Bahrain, these expats see their income improve more than other foreign workers.
  4. The (Ex-)Student: These expats generally speak the local language better than other types of expats. They often live in countries such as Greece, Sweden, Argentina, Ireland or Norway.
  5. The Traveling Spouse: Primarily women, this group of expats follow their partner’s job or education and often live in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Switzerland or Kazakhstan.
  6. The Romantic: Moving for love to Greece, Sweden, Argentina, Ireland or Norway.
  7. The Family Expat: Us! We moved to enjoy life abroad and see a new way of life. We are coming up on six years as a happy expat family. Of course, this can also include moving to be closer to your spouses family. These expats often live in countries such as Greece, Kuwait, Canada or New Zealand. See also #9.
  8. The “Single Destination” Expat: This type of expat chooses a country and builds a new life there. They are quite likely to settle into the local culture.
  9. The “Greener Pastures” Expat: Many expats move for a better life. There are hundreds of these expats here in Ecuador. (We are some of them.) Sometimes the better life comes from the lower cost of living – but other times it’s just the different culture and way of life. Among the countries mentioned, Ecuador, Thailand, and Costa Rica are mentioned.
  10. The Globetrotter: Many of these expats are just slow-moving world-travelers. And I can see the attraction. Backpacking the world is one thing – but staying a few months/years in each place sounds much better. You could really get a taste of the place.

So there you have it: 10 Types of Expats. Am I missing any? Please share your thoughts in the comments below the infographic.


Infographic courtesy of Internations


Your Turn

What type of expat are you? Please join the conversation in the comments below.

Peter Luttmer

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

I'm a Canadian and retired at 53. My wife had left me the year before and children were grown. I climbed on my motorcycle and headed south along the Pacific. Got to San Diego and decided to visit Mexico for the day. Crossed the border and didn't cross back for 12 years until influx of Americans kicked the prices of everything up too much. I had been in parts of Asia in the navy years before and liked it. So I bought a ticket to Viet Nam because I read somewhere the cost of living was very cheap. It is. I've been here for 5 years now and will probably die here. It's funny but I don't consider Canada my home anymore and have no wish to go back there. If I could afford it I would go home to Mexico.

A Guide to living an expat life: How to be an expat. ~

Monday 13th of July 2020

[…] But that itself, is not enough to justify becoming an expat. […]


Monday 8th of May 2017

How about retirees? There is an estimated 1 MILLION Americans LIVING IN MEXICO, who RETIRED, and appreciate the lower cost of living!

Rey Waters

Friday 17th of June 2016

The majority of expats living in Japan came here to teach English and never left. The public and private school system have English national assistant teachers in almost all language classes. With the aging population there will be more opportunities for work visas in all types of occupations. I ended up here as a result of marrying my wonderful Japanese wife. I also looked to this move as an adventure and now I do not plan on leaving.


Tuesday 5th of May 2015

Xi xi I'm part of the family expat - we're moving for the sake of the adventures, to try something new, to see different places and cultures! Greetings, Man With Van St Johns Wood Ltd.