Survey suggests moving overseas increases expat happiness

Published:  27 Mar at 6 PM
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Research is backing up the well-known fact that life overseas is happier than in the home country for an impressive number of expats.

Given that the majority of non-work related expatriations are the result of unhappiness caused by unwelcome changes in the birth country lifestyle, it’s no surprise that just under half of respondents to a recent survey are happier than they were in their home countries. Unhappiness with the way in which a comfortably familiar land is changing as well as with the political reasons behind the changes is commonplace nowadays, with the results seen in increased numbers of would-be expats taking the plunge into new lives and even new citizenships.

According to the survey, the overall figure of those happier overseas than they were at home is around 40 per cent, with variations dependent on which country was the destination of choice. Portugal and Thailand scored highest with 62 per cent of those surveyed overjoyed with their choice, followed by Spain with 60 per cent, Mexico with 59 per cent and New Zealand with 58 per cent. Expat families with children reported their offspring were far happier with the change in lifestyles as well as with the increased sense of wellbeing common to the entire family. Top score in this sector went to the Netherlands,

In addition a majority of retirees were far happier in their adopted countries, with the weather a major reason for those settled in Mexico, Portugal, Thailand and Spain. No surprises there, as the effect on human moods of sunshine after years of regular Seasonal Affective Disorder would make even those for whom misery is a profession into happy bunnies. Having said that, the prize for the happiest nation on earth went to Finland, an admittedly beautiful land bereft of the sun’s warmth for the majority of the year. Obviously, there’s no accounting for taste.

The Nordic nations have dominated this particular happiness survey since its inception four years ago, puzzling many who’ve lived and worked in one or the others for some years. The lack of cultural diversity between the Nordic countries doesn’t seem to bother their fans, with one professor believing it’s simply that they’re good at converting wealth into happiness. As Norway, Iceland and Denmark are also in the survey’s top rank for happiness, he’s probably right.
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