Does Moving Abroad Boost Health Of Expats?

Research suggests that most expats believe that, since moving overseas, their physical health (61%) and mental health (64%) are better than they would have been if they had stayed at home.

While there is a lot to consider in terms of housing, schooling and work when you head off abroad, the search for a new adventure is a huge draw for expats, with over half saying this was the main reason for deciding to move abroad in the first place. And they are not let down by the health benefits there either, according to research by AXA PPP International – 86% of those who moved abroad for better healthcare said that all their expectations had been filled.

Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services for AXA PPP, said, “Following your dream can be very good for mental health and wellbeing. If you’ve always imagined you would one day go and live abroad, chances are you are likely to get a great sense of satisfaction and happiness on achieving this. What’s more, a lot of countries experience better weather than here in the UK. This leads to a more active and outdoor lifestyle, which as we know contributes greatly to overall better health.”

But there can be downsides. Dr Winwood warns that you need to make sure you are prepared: “A lot of people get caught up in the adventure of living overseas and don’t realistically consider the everyday practicalities of living somewhere new. It’s good to be excited about your new life but also really important to think about how that will play out in reality. Make sure you do your research and carefully consider where you want to live – not just the country but the location too; how connected are you to main transport routes, where are the local amenities, what schools are nearby, how will you access healthcare and are their social or expat groups you can join to meet new people?

“You don’t want to get caught out and be in a vulnerable situation in an unknown country such as a feeling of isolation for you or your family as this may well have the opposite intended effect on your health and wellbeing.”

There is a lot to think about when moving abroad: tackling a new language, making friends and settling into a new job in a different culture. The research showed that a quarter of people found learning the local language the most difficult part of working abroad.