French expatriates: which destinations, what profiles?

French expatriates

Since 2000, the number of French expatriates increases an average of 3% per year. If the increase is lower than the average in 2014 with 2.3% of French citizens abroad that is known to the Consular service more than in 2013, the tendency does not seem ready to reverse. Which destinations the French are leaving the Hexagon for? The amount of expatriates is very unequal according to the regions: almost half of them do not leave Europe. The update on the distribution and the identity card of a skilled population are now composed of as many women as men.

Expatriation, a choice that is gaining ground

As the number of 60% French people registered increased since 2000, they are always more likely to strive for expatriation. 1.68 million have been registered in the World Registry of French people out of France in 2014. A certain number of them have also moved to another country that year without registering themselves. So the number of 1,680,594 French expatriates proves to be necessarily underestimated until December 31, 2014.

If the professional motivations represent an engine to many cases of expatriation, the Mondissimo 2013 survey shows that a big number of departures abroad are initiated from the "desire to leave France" or the cultural enhancement research. Far from regretting their choice, many French do not seem to be homesick, so they mostly return back to France in a few years or not at all (17%). Moving abroad is not only a decision related to the career: there are also many personal reasons that hide behind this desire.

Favorite destinations of French expatriates

The geographical distribution of the French citizens across the world is pretty much changeable from one continent to another.

Europe, a key destination

Almost 50% of the French citizens living abroad live in the European countries. The three European countries: Switzerland, Belgium and the United Kingdom are among the most attractive destinations for the French in 2014.

Focus on the numbers

  • The French community is the second foreign community in Belgium after the Italian.
  • 63% of the French expatriates in the United Kingdom live in Greater London.
  • 77% of the French in Switzerland are long-term expatriates.

North America, an attractive destination

North America has attracted many French in 2014. Currently, 13.2% of French living abroad live in the United States or Canada.

Focus on the numbers

  • The United States are the second host country to the French expatriates. You can feel the biggest French presence in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Over 86,800 expatriates live in Canada, the 7th destination to French abroad, mostly choosing the city of Montreal as a place to settle.

Regions that rise: Asia-Oceania and North Africa

The French population is expanding faster in some world parts. A growth of around 9-11% of the French population was registered in Algeria, Australia and New Zealand in 2014. In Asia, French expatriates like Singapore more and more (+19% growth in French population in 2011). It became indeed the second biggest French community in Asia after China and before Japan.

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Portrait of French expatriate

The French expatriate represent a highly qualified cadre, working in a big private enterprise. Is that a belief? Not necessarily, since some numbers partly confirm the truthfulness of this profile:

  • 53% of the French living abroad have graduated with a university degree and obtained master or doctoral diploma;
  • 7 out of 10 French expatriates have a status employee;
  • 2 out of 10 French expatriates have created their own business.

As much as 40% of the expatriates are over 41 years, you can also presume that the active French expatriate is rather experienced.

The French expatriation evolves over the years. If in 2009 there were only 39% women expatriates, now the gender equality has been reached. Moreover, the Mondissimo 2013 survey highlights some trends:

  • The French expatriate themselves more and longer, and nearly 45% have been provided expatriate health insurance;
  • Detached status and expatriation contracts are becoming very rare: every other French signs a local contract.

More info on the French presence abroad:

Making an appointment on the website France Diplomatie.

Date of publication Mar 26 2013

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