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What’s the reality of expat life in Europe today?

Many of Europe’s 33 million international residents have hit something of a jackpot - at least if recent research is anything to go by.

What’s the reality of expat life in Europe today?
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

From longer parental leave and better educational opportunities to bigger paychecks and career boosters, expats in Europe seem to be enjoying the many perks of living abroad.

One of the greatest appeals of relocating to Europe in particular seems to be the promise of a higher quality of life. A recent survey conducted by Vitreous World on behalf of AXA – Global Healthcare* suggests that expats in Europe are more likely to have packed their bags for better pay and more benefits than for the chance to embark on a new adventure. In France, for example, 31 percent of foreigners say that the French lifestyle is by far the best thing about living there – and about 44 percent benefit from things such as improved pay and learning a new language.

Find out more about AXA’s health insurance packages for expats

Fresh statistics from the world’s longest-running survey of expats* found that, among other things, many European expat hotspots seem to be hitting the high notes on a wide variety of criteria. In Spain, for example, more expats than in any other expat community report that more sun and a slower pace of life has led to significant improvements in both their physical and mental health.** In Switzerland, too, international residents are enthusiastic about their lifestyle upgrade, which includes reaping the benefits of the strong economy (by way of higher-than-global-average salaries) and taking care of their families without having to worry about political instability.*

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Despite digital technologies alleviating some of the problems once experienced by expats, living and working abroad does, like most things, have a flipside – or, at any rate, its own set of hurdles. As AXA – Global Healthcare’s survey indicates, these can include language barriers, making new friends, seasonal depression, and adapting to a change in climate. But if you’re aware of these challenges before you move, downloading a language app or joining an online expat community can help you to prepare yourself.

Learn more about how you can benefit from AXA’s global healthcare plans

Moreover, expats often face bureaucratic obstacles as they navigate everything from banking services to local healthcare systems. According to AXA – Global Healthcare’s survey, almost four out of five expats had concerns when seeking healthcare in their current country, with 63 percent saying they would travel back to their home country if they needed medical treatment. Fortunately, you can make use of services such as the Virtual Doctor Service – which is offered with some of AXA’s global health plans with out-patient cover. This provides a handy solution for healthcare challenges if they do arise, allowing you to speak to a doctor at short notice, in a range of languages, at any time and from anywhere in the world.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

On the whole, it does appear that for international dwellers in Europe, expat life comes with many benefits. Although over half of the expats surveyed did report that being away from friends and family made it harder to integrate, and 43 percent said that making new friends was tough, AXA – Global Healthcare’s research indicates that, overall, the majority of both European and global expats believe that their experience of living abroad has been a positive one. For example, close to a majority of expats globally attest to having a better work-life balance than in their home country, citing better leisure opportunities, an easier commute, more disposable income, and more time to spend with family as main reasons.

With AXA’s global health cover, you and your family are covered at every stage of expat life. Find out more about how AXA’s international health insurance can help you to get the most out of life abroad.

*Research conducted in February 2019 by Vitreous World on behalf of AXA. A total of 1,352 expats were surveyed (250 in the UK, France, UAE, Canada and China, and 100 in Hong Kong).

**HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2019

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

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HEALTH

Ticks in Norway: Do I need to take a vaccine? 

The summer months in Norway mark tick season, where thousands of people are bitten each year. Although most people are usually fine, tick bites come with the risk of Lyme disease. Here's what you need to know about the tick vaccine. 

Ticks in Norway: Do I need to take a vaccine? 

The summer months in Norway mark tick season, where thousands of people are bitten each year. Although most people are usually fine, tick bites come with the risk of Lyme disease. Here’s what you need to know about the tick vaccine. 

Ticks, or flått, in Norway can be found mainly in the southeast and along coastal areas in the west, and as far north as Bodø. However, ticks can also be found further inland. 

They can be found in forests, meadows, and long grass, meaning the biggest risk is when you’re out in nature – especially hiking, camping, or berry-picking.

Ticks are active when the temperature is higher than around 5c, but are most common during summer. Tick season is roughly from April to September in Norway, with most bites occurring in summer.

The two main tick-borne diseases in Norway are Lyme disease and Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

Lyme disease (also called borreliosis) causes no symptoms in around half of all people who catch it. For others, it can cause skin redness, headaches, and pain and can attack the nervous system.

Around 25 percent of all ticks in Southern Norway are carriers infected with the Borrelia bacteria, according to The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Tick-borne Diseases.

TBE is a viral brain infection, which can cause a range of symptoms, usually starting with typical flu-like symptoms and then developing to include nausea, dizziness, and in around a third of cases, severe problems. Symptoms usually appear around a week after the bite but can take longer. There is no cure, but it can be treated, and there is a vaccination too.

While ticks are found across Norway, ticks carrying TBE, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, are mostly concentrated in Rogaland, Vestfold and Telemark, Adger and Viken. Around one percent of ticks in Norway carry TBE. 

Who should get a vaccine? 

Vaccinations are recommended for those living in areas with TBE-infested ticks and/or who spend a lot of time in forests. More specifically, the vaccine should be considered for children and adults in west-Agder, east-Agder, Telemark, Vestfold and Buskerud.

You get three doses within the first year, each one increasing the level of protection, another amount after three years and then will need top-ups every five years, every three years if you are over 60.

Because you need several doses to be fully protected, it’s recommended that you begin the vaccination programme well ahead of tick season. It’s also worth noting that you should receive the third dose before the next tick season starts if you receive your jabs mid-tick season. 

However, the incidence rate of TBE in Norway is low, meaning that in most cases, you won’t need to take a tick vaccine and can instead focus on preventative measures. 

If you are spending time in wooded areas with long grass, especially those with a high tick presence, take precautions like wearing long-sleeved clothing and tucking trousers into socks. Also, avoid brushing against long grasses by walking along the middle of the path where you can.

After returning home from a day out, you should check carefully for ticks and shower shortly after coming inside. This can give you the chance to remove them before they bite, for example, if you spot them on your clothes. Putting clothes in a tumble dryer for one hour should kill ticks.

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