The Young Exodus; Why millennials are choosing the expatriate life.

Travel has never been more popular, or easy.

Historically, people leave their native country for a variety of reasons. Some leave because of religious persecution. Others may leave because of political influences that have made life unbearable. In some cases their country is no longer economically stable enough to support a decent standard of life. And on the worst part of the spectrum, swarms of people exeunt their lands due to war and genocide. This still happens, and unfortunately, probably always will.

But what’s with this expatriate phenomenon?

Millennials in first-world, tolerant and relatively stable countries are moving abroad. Not to the usual places (such as the U.K., United States or Australia, which have recently seen a decline of expatriates coming to its shores.) Instead, they are leaving them. The U.K. took the biggest plunge, with 22% fewer expatriates entering its borders than in the past.

According to the United Nation’s population division, as of 2013 there were 232 million expatriates living outside their native countries. And in 2015, the top five destinations were Singapore, New Zealand, Sweden, Bahrain and Germany according to HSBC.

To get to the cause of this symptom, one must ponder: What are the differences between a modern twenty-something and a baby boomer in the 60’s or 70’s. For one, in the “good ole days” the young would graduate college and expect to get a job, get married and eventually buy a house. All these things are “anchors” that hold one down. These are not bad events, who doesn’t want to be married, rich with a white picket fence, a freckle faced baby and a golden retriever?

This is the American dream, after all.

But the mortgage and the marriage are not something the modern millennial sees as an eventuality. In fact, in the current economic state, with the ever-inflating price of living, buying a home and paying a mortgage is more of a fantasy. It is something your parents did, and frankly, most millennials wouldn’t even know where to get started. Therefore, there are less things holding this demographic down and creating more expatriates living abroad. And people are getting married later and later in life, if at all. Impart, this is thanks to the growing equality of the sexes. Women are being empowered and no longer feel that they need to marry a man to make it in the world.

With fewer anchors, one is free to move.

In terms of percentage against the country population, five countries prevail with 40-80% of their population being expatriates: Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Singapore.

With the emergence of worldwide behemoth companies such as Facebook and Uber, the planet is ever more uniform and accommodating. If you call an Uber in Colombia, the car will look the same and the driver will act accordingly as if you called it in Atlanta, Georgia. This really tames the fear of feeling out-of-place in a new culture. Technology has created a united planet.

Additionally, as some countries are growing and slowly reaching first-world status, they are blooming with work opportunities for educated expatriates, living abroad. As large corporations take advantage of cheaper land and tax incentives in these smaller territories, they require highly trained graduates to take on the expatriate lifestyle and work in their foreign locations. And considering that many of these developing countries have a much lower cost of living, they are appealing to the modern millennial.

Drop the baggage.

In conclusion, the new professional is less encumbered by financial commitments. The Earth is overflowing with renters and travelers, making the best of the current trends. The gig economy is grasping the workforce. This means that a lot of jobs can now move with the individual. For example, Internet businesses can be managed from any location, and an Uber driver can grab a car in countries all over the world.

-Armando A. Diaz, Writer

adiaz@wellaway.com