Living Abroad And Your Health

Written by on June 19, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Healthiest CountriesFinding a home from home

People move abroad for a range of different reasons, the most popular among them including things like

  • Career development on an international assignment
  • Pursuing a course of study
  • Volunteering during a career break
  • Accompanying a partner stationed overseas
  • Retirement

And of course with so many different reasons for moving abroad, everyone has their own set of requirements such as the location and character of the neighbourhood they’d like to live in, the general climate of the destination country, the quality of schools, and the opportunities for leisure and socialising.

The universal expat requirement

One requirement that is pretty much universal though is that of healthcare. It isn’t necessarily that the public healthcare system needs to be the same as the one provided in the home nation, but expats generally require the peace of mind that comes from knowing that any medical assistance required will be prompt and good quality – hence the need for comprehensive medical insurance.

Even where there are reciprocal agreements between countries (as exists in the European Economic Area, or EEA for short) it doesn’t mean that eligible medical care will be free of charge.

Many countries in the EEA charge patients towards the cost of treatment, so even if an individual is eligible for treatment, there needs to be measures in place to make up the shortfall.

In addition, medical insurance is important in cases where medical evacuation or repatriation is required. There are occasionally stories in the press of people who are caught short uninsured who have had to pay the costs of medical repatriation – and it’s not cheap.

Expats and mental health

Moving abroad isn’t something that’s without its own pressures and causes of stress – language challenges, settling into a new culture, landing in a city where you don’t know anybody – these are all part of the challenge of becoming an expatriate.

Many happy and successful expats have been through these challenges, and since we’re all only human, many have also found things to be stressful at times too. So if you move abroad and it sometimes feels a little too much – you’re not alone.

Thankfully, the vast majority of people find their feet and transition well into their new life. Some may require assistance along the way, either with support from an employee assistance programme or through the services of a reputable expat counselling service.

Experts in repatriation counselling have identified various things that people should make every effort to do on arrival in a new country – among them making the most of social opportunities offered, and building a new network of friends and colleagues.

Naturally in a new situation we might feel a slight tendency towards staying home and keeping ourselves to ourselves, but by getting out and meeting new people it means that there are more opportunities to get to know people and find out more about the new country of residence.

Staying healthy

Of course, it doesn’t matter where you find yourself in the world – all the usual healthy living rules apply – giving yourself the space and time to adjust to new situations, getting plenty of rest and eating a balanced diet all help to equip anyone to meet the challenges that life gives us.

This article was written by Jen Jones who writes on expat wellbeing on behalf of AXA PPP International. You can find Jen on Google+ here.

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