Relocating abroad boosts expat health

The majority of expats believe their mental and physical health have improved since moving overseas, according to a recent study from AXA PPP International.

AXA PPP moving abroad beneficial for expat health
A recent study by the global health insurer AXA PPP International has shown that most expats believe their overall health has improved since moving abroad. The online survey was completed by 463 expats, 61 per cent of whom stated their physical health was better than it would have been had they stayed in their home country. On top of this, 64 per cent believe their mental health was improved following relocation.AXA’s study highlighted that over half of the respondents’ main reason for moving abroad was the search for a new adventure. Many dream of living abroad but these dreams fall short due to complications with housing, schooling or work. On many occasions, complications in one or more of these areas can result in the decision to stay. A lot of the time it seems following your dreams may be too good to be true.Relocate Global’s resources provide extensive guidance and advice for relocation and HR professionals as well as parents interested in the international schools market to ensure these factors do not cause overseas assignments to fail.

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In recent months, there has been a focus on encouraging health and wellness in the workplace. Many businesses today are encouraged to support employees in any way possible by creating a working environment that facilitates happy and healthy staff. It has previously been reported that moving house is more stressful than getting divorced, which may serve as an indicator of the potentially high level of stress involved in overseas relocation. In addition to moving house, international movers must consider the differences in language and culture, the reality of knowing few people in the area and the lives of their spouse and children post-move. There is a huge amount to consider and, unsurprisingly, many relocatees fall victim to culture shock. Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services for AXA PPP, says, “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.” However, 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 there 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.”

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