Although the term expatriation is traditionally used for international assignments initiated by the employing company, there are a lot of so-called self-initiated expatriates as well (see my Expatriation close-up – Calling things by their right names blog entry).
Self-initiated assignees, as the term already highlights, are people that make their own arrangements to find a job abroad (usually with a local contract) and relocate without any expatriate packages. Compared to company-backed assignments, voluntary transferees may have more personal motivation to move abroad as well as more freedom in terms of choice of the country, their length of stay, and time of relocation and return. Therefore, one may argue that self-initiated expatriates will be happier while staying abroad than company-initiated expatriates.
Fact or Fiction?
Have a look at some evidence.