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Retaining Expatriates

Mural of couple under umbrella

The acquisition of expats, while challenging, is for some companies the easiest element of the equation. Retaining international employees is a far more complex undertaking. Following an initial period of employment and phase of settling in, expats may be residents but they remain foreigners.

Life becomes more routine and the new appears more familiar. However, over time, old habits and desires come to the fore and old friends are missed. Finding new places to go out and creating a new group of acquaintances can be highly rewarding.

It can also lead to a harsh reality check. Interaction with locals is unusual. And meeting expats is very hit and miss. Numbers are extremely low compared to the native population and, truth be told, the choice of those people that resonate with oneself is restricted.

Partners and children can struggle too, friction arises and places an added burden on the household. It is well known that many assignments fail because a spouse or the kids are unhappy.

Empowering Expats

Those who chose their location need to be able to embrace the new environment and feel empowered. This enables unusual situations that may arise in everyday life to be easier to navigate. Professionals in business wish to be in control of their personal lives too.

Retaining expatriates is fundamentally linked to their ability to integrate and lead better lives in your location. In other words, they wish to feel at home in their new home from home. They cannot achieve that without access to knowledge.

City leaders and heads of administrative departments beyond the foreigners office are obliged to help companies in the location to retain highly valuable expats. The cost of losing them is too high and damaging to city budgets too.

By Vincent Green, Oct 6 2021


Expat location guides in each city post the mayor's welcome to expats. Effects are threefold. International residents are acknowledged for their decision to relocate. It sends a motivational message to municipal employees to serve them well. An inspiring signal is also sent to companies and locals such as in powerful Ruhr Metropolis, Germany.

Attracting Expats

Talented individuals make choices. Far too many cities trust that companies in their city are capable of filling vacancies from abroad. They do little to support their local expat ecosystem. Meanwhile, other locations appear more desirable and win the competition of attracting and retaining international professionals.