But the reality is more expats than ever are moving around the world to work.
During the past two decades, the number of expats on assignment has steadily increased, according to consultancy ECA International.
The expat job world is also more complicated.
Multinational companies have expanded to manage expats from up to six different countries at the same time as Asia has stepped up as a source of talent as well as a destination for international workers.
The profile of expats has changed little except for the rise of Asia and that contracts are more likely to last for six months rather three years.
Shorter contracts are now around fifth of all assignments, while a third are commuter or other types. Together these are 55% of all contracts now, compared with 37% two decades ago.
Other than that, the typical expat is a man, aged 35 to 50 years old from Western Europe, North America and now Asian as well.
Women make up 12% of the expat workforce – up from 7% 20 years ago.
The report also suggests that a change in the time a contract lasts is also affecting expat families.
Many expats are unlikely to relocate their families on short contracts, so these assignments are attracting younger professionals.