Almost half of the women who currently live abroad (46%) mentioned their job or business as a reason for expatriating.
This share is still lower than among their male counterparts, of which seven out of ten (71%) say the same. Nonetheless, it is the factor most often given by expat women, followed by 33% who moved for their partner and 26% who were looking for an adventure.
Based on the insights of more than 6,000 women given in the annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a so-far unpublished ranking of the top countries for women working abroad, which varies quite a bit from male expats’ picks.
Luxembourg, Taiwan, and Germany top the chart, and they all do particularly well for women’s job security. More surprisingly, Hungary and Bahrain follow just behind in the top five, performing extremely well for job satisfaction and career opportunities for women – as opposed to the more negative perception of men working in these countries.
Top 10 Countries for Women Working Abroad
Luxembourg tops the Working Abroad Index not only for women, but for all survey respondents. For female expats, it does best in the Job Security subcategory, coming in first with 86% of women saying that they feel positive about this factor. The high ranking in job security is partly due to the 93% of female expats that feel positive about the state of Luxembourg’s economy. The country also ranks first among women when it comes to the Safety & Security subcategory: 96% rate the peacefulness positively, and not one expat women says that they feel negatively about the country’s political stability.
Taiwan takes second place overall for women working abroad, coming in first place for the Job & Career subcategory. In fact, six in ten female expats (62%) say that they feel positive about their career prospects in Taiwan, as opposed to slightly more than half of the women around the world agreeing to this (53%). A vast majority (86%) are also satisfied with their current position in comparison to a global average of 62%.
Germany places third for the Job Security subcategory with 90% of female expats saying that they are positive about the state of the economy. Nearly half of female expats in Germany (46% in comparison to 36% globally) are employees or managers and the 11% of women in Germany currently searching for work are facing good career prospects, as 65& of female respondents in Germany are overall satisfied with them in comparison to 53% worldwide. Germany also performs well among expat women for safety and political stability: 89% for example feel positive about their personal safety compared to a global average of 77%.
Hungary proves that money does not mean everything: despite 43% of women in Hungary earning less than they would back home (compared to 31% of women globally), the country does exceptionally well when it comes to the Job & Career and Work-Life Balance subcategories, ranking second in both. An impressive 40% – as opposed to a global average of only 17% – are even completely satisfied with their work-life balance. Hungary also shows some of the biggest differences between expat men and women overall: expat women rank Hungary as the world’s 7th best country to live in, whereas expat men feel very differently, ranking it at 36th out of 62 countries.
Bahrain friendly atmosphere seems to help women working abroad to settle in and the country makes it to sixth place in the Ease of Settling In Index. Over a quarter of female expats (27%) agree completely that making local friends is easy, a number far higher than the 11% global average. Bahrain also does very well when it comes to the Job & Career and Work-Life Balance subcategories, coming in at third place and sixth place respectively: nearly three-quarters of female expats (73%) are overall satisfied with their jobs in Bahrain compared to a global average of 62%.
Australia is a great destination for women working abroad who want to enjoy their free time to the fullest. Female expats in Australia have plenty to do in their spare time: 93% of respondents feel positive about the available leisure activities. Compared to a global average of just 17% of women saying they are completely satisfied with their work-life balance, three in ten expat women in Australia feel this way. The great weather down under is another plus to moving to Australia, with 85% of female expats saying that the climate and weather is good compared to a 61% global average.
Despite three in ten women (29%) saying they earn significantly less than at home, well above the worldwide average of just 14% , Ecuador still makes a great destination for working abroad, coming first in the Work-Life Balance subcategory: an impressive 84% of female expats in Ecuador indeed say they feel satisfied with their work-life balance compared to the global average of 60%. However, Ecuador does not do so well for the state of its economy with 43% of women feeling negatively about it, compared to a global average of just 24%.
8. New Zealand
Expat women find it easy to settle in and feel welcome in New Zealand. For instance, over four in five (83%) say that they feel that it is easy to get used to the local culture. Over three in five (61% even say that they would possibly stay forever in New Zealand, an impressive 30 percentage points more than women around the world. Perhaps the work-life balance contributes to women wanting to stay — as 77% of them are overall satisfied with this aspect of their life.
Expat women in Norway can expect to be earning more than they would at home with 74% of respondents saying this is the case compared to only half of respondents worldwide. Although nearly eight in ten expat women worldwide consider themselves happy with their life (78%), this unfortunately is not the case in Norway: despite the positive working abroad results, only 66% of female expats feel overall happy with their life.
Of all three subcategories of the Working Abroad Index, Denmark performs best in the Work-Life Balance subcategory coming in at fourth for women. Across all survey respondents, men included, Denmark even has the shortest full-time work week out of all the countries surveyed, with an average of 39 hours per week. Just like Norway, Denmark does not do as well in the Job & Career subcategory, placing 34th out of 57 countries for women. When it comes to the Job Security subcategory, Denmark comes 15th, six places below Norway, which still makes the top 10 ranking on ninth position.
Worst Countries to Work Abroad for Women
While some of the best countries for women working abroad are in Europe, so are the worst. For example, Greece even comes in last place for working abroad for both expat men and women. The state of the economy may have something to do with this: nine in ten female expats in Greece rate this factor negatively, compared to one quarter globally (24%). Meanwhile, career prospects even seem to be worrisome for expat women in several Southern European countries: 63% of women in Greece rate this negatively, followed by 54% in Cyprus, and 52% in Italy.
The economies of South American countries Argentina and Brazil also seem to be troubling for women working there, with 76% and 87% respectively rating them negatively. Brazil, however, seems to be a popular spot for being sent abroad by an employer: 18% of female expats there say this was their primary reason for relocating, notably higher than the 10% global average. Job security in Brazil is something that female expats are not overly satisfied with, though: 36% rate it negatively, 14 percentage points higher than the global average.
While foreign women seem to be in high demand when it comes to working in the Gulf Countries – 14% in Saudi Arabia say they were recruited by a local company and 12% in Qatar say the same, four times the global average of 3% – they seem to struggle with work-life balance: only 40% rank this factor positively in Saudi Arabia and 44% in Qatar, compared to the global average of 60%. Female expats in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have an average work week of 42.6 and 44.8 hours, respectively, which is notably higher than the global average of 39.0 hours. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that 34% of women working in Qatar say that they are unsatisfied with their working hours, nearly double the global average of 19%. While Saudi Arabia does better in this regard, it is still above the global average at 23%.