Who are these “French from abroad”?

At the end of 2009, there were nearly one and a half million French people living abroad, an increase of 3% compared to 2008. This figure only includes French people registered abroad, so it can be rounded up to more than two million, or about 4% of the French population lives outside France. Who are they? Who are they? Which countries are the most attractive? Why do we choose to leave?

As an expatriate myself, I have always been curious to get to know these communities of French people living abroad, as they are commonly called. Many of my friends went abroad for their studies and finally decided to stay, others wanted to discover new experiences and ways of life… But who are we? Which countries are the most attractive? How long does it take to get back to France?  In a few figures, 66% of expatriates are men and only 34% women. 65% are between 25 and 39 years old and are young workers (86% work). 67% go as a couple or family.

Why should I leave?

There are many reasons to move abroad, but according to several studies, in more than 50% of cases, expatriation is linked to professional reasons. 26% to discover a new country, 13% for family reasons, especially to follow their spouse, 8% for studies or research and some 3% for humanitarian cooperation.

What are the countries of expatriation?

The preferred destination for French expatriates remains Europe in more than 50% of cases. The top-ranked countries are Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy. The advantages of being close to France, the way of life and the ease of integration to find a job… (Schengen area) make expatriation easier. Then come North America with the United States and Canada, the Near and Middle East and French-speaking Africa.

The countries that experienced the largest increase in the number of French speakers in 2009 were Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Greece in Europe, Brazil, Chile, Mexico in South America and Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and Mauritius in French-speaking Africa. The trendiest regions with a growth rate close to 5% are Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Russia and the Czech Republic. Emerging economies such as China and India are not to be outdone.

Leaving, yes, but for how long?

This is often the big question that is not easy to answer when you have left France. It is very easy to leave to experience your new adventure, discover a new culture… but it is also very difficult to return. If, like me, you are often asked typical, concrete but also scary questions such as “How long do you think you will stay? ” or “You’re going to go back to France one day anyway!”? “, please note that 75% of expatriates leave less than ten years ago.

The important thing is to know where your happiness is.