Moving abroad once meant sporadic contact with friends and family. But that's no longer the case - advancements in technology like video calling and social media make it easier than ever to stay in touch with the people back home. You might even speak more than you did before the move!
It's not the only common expat struggle that technology has eased. Simple things, like a visit to the doctor can seem insurmountable when you don't speak the local language or understand the healthcare system. But nowadays a quick Google search can answer nearly any question and you can see a doctor online, in your own language, with virtual doctor services like the one available on some of AXA's global health plans.
With all these advancements facilitating life abroad, it's no wonder that expats are happier than ever. In fact, 52 percent of expats* say they have a better quality of life than they did in their home country. And of those who moved abroad for an adventure, nearly 95 percent* believed it lived up to some or all of their expectations. It seems there's never been a better time to live overseas and the majority of people who do have found happier, more fulfilling lives.
Of course, finding happiness abroad depends on what you're looking for. Happiness looks different to different people; for some it means more money in the bank while others are simply searching for a better quality of life.
Boost your bottom line
If you're keen to increase your personal income then moving to a new country could boost your bottom line. The average expat income is $99,900 (€87,597), a 25 percent* increase since relocating. In fact, more than one in ten expats say their income has doubled since the big move. In Switzerland, where in 2016 the median monthly wage before taxes was 6,502 francs (€5,450), expats earn around 54 percent* more than they had at home.
Money doesn't always mean happiness and expat life can present other opportunities. An increasingly common reason that many people up sticks is to seek better work-life balance. So it comes as no surprise that 53 percent* of expats believe they divide their time more equally between professional and personal activities in their adopted country. In France, that figure rises to 75 percent*, where three quarters of expats say that they have found a better mix of professional and personal life.
Expats in Spain also see significant improvements in their personal lives. With Spain's milder climate, slower pace and community-driven culture, close to three-quarters* (73 percent) of expats believe that their quality of life has improved. In fact, Spain is ranked the number one country for a more active social life compared with an expat's home country.
The great outdoors
The warmer the climate, the more likely you are to spend outdoors, right? Think again. Expats in Norway are the most likely to take part in more outdoor activity, with 59 percent* of those living in the Scandinavian country spending more time than before in the great outdoors. The benefits of being around nature are well touted so moving to Norway could mean a step in the direction of a happier life - and as the Norwegians say: ‘There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing'!
City life, on the other hand, comes with many perks - expats in capitals like Berlin have plenty of opportunities to indulge their every cultural whim. At the same time, they enjoy a more affordable cost of living - 61 percent* of expats find life in Berlin cheaper than back home - while 57 percent* say a reliable and convenient public transport system makes it easier for them to get around.
It could well be that the move abroad is spurred on by wanting a better life for your family as a whole. In Sweden, where family life is highly valued, 36 percent* of expats have children compared with 29 percent* of expats overall. Expat parents in Sweden are unsurprisingly satisfied with the country's subsidised daycare and public school system with 72 percent* saying the quality of childcare is better than it was at home.
Perhaps most tellingly, just 15 percent* of expats around the world are planning to leave their adopted country ahead of schedule and only 23 percent* have been through a repatriation process. With increased mobility, technology that enables you to speak to friends, family or even a doctor wherever you are in the world plus the financial and lifestyle benefits, 2019 is undoubtedly the year of the expat.
With AXA's global health cover, you and your family are protected at every stage of expat life. Find out more about AXA's international health insurance and start living the expat life you'd always hoped for.
*Reference: HSBC Expat Explorer Global Report 2017