An expat survey carried out by the UK Medical insurance company Medibroker has reported that the majority of expats are satisfied with their new life overseas. Of those surveyed, 80% of participants were satisfied with their new life overseas (stating that they were either enjoying it or really enjoying it). Only a very small percentage (2%) of the sample reported that they were not enjoying it. The list of benefits cited as to why they were happy included climate and an overall better quality of life.
It was noted that cultural differences and integration is often the most difficult part of relocating abroad. Many expats experience culture shock, which can range from a few days to a much longer period of time depending on how quickly the person goes through the stages. Culture shock is defined as the disorientation due to an unfamiliar place. The phases include the honeymoon phase, the negotiation phase, the adjustment phases and the mastery phase.
In order to minimise culture shock, it is usually advised to research extensively the cultural differences between your host country and your home country. Being prepared can reduce the initial impact in some cases. It is also a good idea to learn the local language or some key phrases at least if possible. Other ways to reduce culture shock include making an effort to meet new people and try new activities, this should help with adaptation.
Homesickness was also noted as a possible reason as to way expats were either indifferent or unhappy with their new life. In this case, it can help to have regular contact with family and friends at home to help you settle in. Skype or other video call services can help to keep in touch. In addition, many expats advise getting involved in local activities and local culture as much as possible to help with adjustment. You could also look into joining new societies, clubs or taking up a new hobby or interest as a way of meeting new people in your host country.
In terms of medical cover, 45% said that they were not covered by an international health insurance scheme yet almost 50% of respondents were concerned about healthcare facilities in their new host country.
The survey was carried out by Medibroker from Dec 2013 – March 2014 in conjunction with the expat forums AngloInfo and ExpatNetwork.com In total, 202 respondents were questioned for the survey.