globe with crisis text
The crisis is hitting some expats markets hard, but in the meantime some Asian and South American destinations are booming.

As global recession looms, expat marketers are wondering which markets will be left after the storm.

While some traditional expat markets seem close to collapse, others attract more and more foreigners, offering new business opportunities for expat service providers.

Our team at has rated some of the largest local expat markets by attractiveness. The assigned market score, portrayed by up to four stars, reflects how important the given expat market will be in the near future.

We have also identified the outlook for expat market growth and what key elements are attracting expats in the first place.


Market score: ****   l   Expat outlook: Strong growth   l   Pros: Booming economy

The Brazilian expat market is boomingThe number of foreigners in Brazil reached nearly 1.5 million in 2011, according to the Washington Post. Immigration increased 52%, the largest groups being Bolivians (40%), Chinese (13 percent), Peruvians (11 percent), Paraguay (10 percent) and Korean (3 percent).

Work authorizations also shot up 32 percent in 2011, with Americans have receiving more work permits than anyone else. In addition, 2 million Brazilians who had been living overseas have returned home since 2005.

Brazil has also received about $200 billion in foreign direct investment in the past six years confirming the market’s faith that the trend will continue. Despite current economic hiccups, we predict the country’s demand for expat service to grow.


Market score: **   l   Expat outlook: Moderate growth   l   Pros: Low prices, fellow expats

expat market in argentinaThe country’s leaders are accused of corrupt acts and mismanagement. For expats, however, this can be good news: The current environment pushes prices down and allows expats to benefit from the lower cost of living.

Italians have always been a large population in Argentina, while Chinese and Taiwanese numbers are steadily increasing. Many expats have also successfully started their own businesses in Argentina and they continue to thrive. Despite economic troubles, we see that these foreigners are here to stay and should continue to attract others.


Market score: ***   l   Expat outlook: Strong growth   l   Pros: Expat business financing

Chilean expat marketThe Chilean government is taking the right steps toward to support economic growth, opening its doors to expat entrepreneurs. The “Startup Chile” program offers residency to expat entrepreneurs relocating to Chile, and $40,000 in capital to qualified startups.

Among the top ten immigrant nationalities are Germany, China, the USA, and Spain. During the next years, we expect an increase in Spanish migration as young Spanish professionals are trying to escape Spain’s 50% youth unemployment rate. With harsh immigration policies in countries like the USA, Chile is proving a very attractive option for them.


Market score: ***  l  Expat outlook: Steady growth  l  Pros: Low-cost healthcare/schools

expat market in franceFrance is the second EU country in terms of the number of non-EU immigrants. Research shows that families and semi-retirees are still migrating here, but some wondering long they can sustain. In 2009, France was on Forbes’ top ten retirement havens, though more families and professionals are relocating here. Our advice? France is still a safe bet for expat marketers.


Market score: *  l  Expat outlook: Recession  l  Cons: Tightened immigration rules

expat market in spainIn 2011, for the first time in twenty years, more people moved out of Spain than arrived. Many UK expats have returned home and, with Spain’s unemployment rate at 24.4%, others want to move back but are wary of the poor exchange rate if selling their Spanish property. Expat businesses are slowing, making life tough for those who stay to weather the storm in Spain. Our prediction: Things will get a lot worse before they get better.


Market score: ***   l   Expat outlook: Strong growth   l   Pros: Expat jobs

expat market in russiaRussia, especially Moscow, is becoming a new bright light for EU expats looking for work during the economic crisis. The number of expats applying for jobs in Russia has tripled since 2010, and most of the applicants come from the Eurozone currently experiencing serious labor problems. Recruitment website reported the most popular native languages for applications include English, German, Turkish, French, Hindi, Serbian, Arabic and Spanish. Expat marketers and recruiters in Russia therefore need to adapt their campaigns to the languages spoken by this new wave of migrants.


Market score: ***   l   Expat outlook: Rapid growth   l   Pros: Confidence in economy

expat market in indiaOver half of expats in India are not worried about the fall of the Euro, proving their faith India’s growth will continue to protect them from EU hardship. India is the world’s most populous democracy and is projected to surpass China as the most populous country by 2025. However, it is still hard to find numbers on exact expat growth. Our impression: This is a growing market, but still not transparent regarding future plans.


Market score: ****   l   Expat outlook: Positive growth   l   Pros: Low prices, Expat jobs

Expat markets in ChinaSurvey data shows that 21% of international relocation assignments are in China. Nearly half of the polled companies stated that international assignments have grown in the past year and 45% expect they will increase again next year. International company decisions are a good indicator of expat trends to follow. Many will continue to expatriate to China with their families after working here on temporary assignments. Marketers must be paying attention to the the growing market of expats choosing to settle in China.

So what’s the bottom line?

As our research shows, many traditional expat locations are loosing importance for marketers, at least in comparison to upcoming destinations. This trend that is ikely to accelerate as countries are hit by recessions. If you are targeting only western expats in western destinations, you are going to have trouble growing your audience.

On the other hand, we see a range of upcoming expat destinations that offer significant business opportunities, even in times of global recession. Expats are looking to South America and Asia in search of jobs as well as affordable goods and services. To reach this audience, expat marketers must focus on new hotspots as they roll out their global strategy.

more says:

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Brock says:

Thanks for your comment, Hite.

I agree that inflation has increased over the past decade, though the controversy regarding governmental statistical validity does make it tough to capture a completely accurate economic picture. Higher prices definitely exist, but when compared to countries such as the U.S., or nations in Western Europe, prices are still affordable. Living on a local income alone would be much more difficult, however, expats are not impacted by price fluctuations in the same manner as the local population.

So, with the Argentine economy in question today (as in many countries around the world), let’s hope that other positives in Argentina – rich natural resources, exporting, and a highly literate population – help to bring some stability to this friendly and beautiful country.

Hite Clay says:

Prices in Argentina are skyrocketing. 25% inflation and growing. This should weigh very heavily on anyone’s mind who might be considering a move here. Prices are rising noticeably by the week with no end in sight.