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Cost Of Living Would Prompt A Fifth of Expats To Return Home

Independent research by AXA – Global Healthcare has shown that many expats find life abroad to be surprisingly expensive, with one-in-six (17%) saying that the cost of living is the thing they miss most from their home country and one-in-five (21%) going so far as to say that it would prompt them to return. This is despite three-in-five (58%) saying that they actually enjoy a higher salary since moving abroad.

The greatest source of pressure on expats’ wallets was found to be rent and housing, with more than half (51%) of expats saying this was surprisingly expensive in their new home country. Two-fifths (40%) of those surveyed also said that higher education was more costly than expected, while one-in-three (35%) found that childcare costs put pressure on their purse strings.

Having spoken with people in a number of popular expat destinations, AXA found that life is most expensive for those living in the United Arab Emirates. Almost three-quarters of expats in the UAE said that rent and house prices (71%) and higher education (72%) are surprisingly costly, while two thirds (65%) found schooling to be more expensive than expected.

Tom Wilkinson, CEO, AXA – Global Healthcare commented: “The cost of living varies massively around the world, and even across different regions in the same country, so it’s important on any international secondment to be aware of your spending and manage your finances appropriately. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources online – and even apps available – that could help make managing your money a little easier.”

An expense that expats seem to be particularly concerned about is healthcare, with a quarter (24%) of those living abroad worried about the cost of treatment locally. A fifth (18%) of expats said that they would even travel to another country to receive healthcare because the cost of treatment in their new home is too high.

Tom Wilkinson concluded: “The key to being prepared for healthcare costs abroad – especially if you have a pre-existing condition – is to ensure that you have a good grasp of the services and facilities available in your new home. The standard and cost of healthcare will vary around the world, so it’s important to prepare yourself for the different circumstances you might come across. In countries where certain treatments are difficult to come by or particularly expensive, it may even be worth considering how international health insurance could help you to manage your healthcare needs.”


Working Hours Aren't Key To Expats' Improved Work-Life Balance

New research suggests that for many expats, the way in which they spend their downtime has more impact on their work-life balance than the prospect of working shorter hours.

Tom Wilkinson, CEO, AXA – Global Healthcare commented, “A clearly defined work-life balance is pivotal to the health and happiness of all workers, and expats are no different. An international assignment can be an intense experience, so it’s important for employers to make sure they give access to appropriate support services throughout a secondment abroad.”

“A healthy work-life balance doesn’t lie solely in the number of hours worked though, and it’s encouraging to see that for many, the expat lifestyle is paying off. Whether it be simply spending more time with family or even exploring new surroundings, being able to enjoy and make the most of some well-earned downtime is essential.”

The new research* by AXA – Global Healthcare reveals that nearly half (46%) of expats feel their work-life balance is better than in their home country, despite only a fifth (22%) of those claiming to work shorter hours since moving abroad.

Indeed, despite a third (34%) of all expats surveyed working between 40 and 45 hours per week and nearly a quarter (22%) claiming to work in excess of 46 hours per week, a fifth (21%) would say that they actually moved abroad specifically for a better work-life balance.

It would appear, therefore, that shorter working hours are not crucial to an expats’ improved work-life balance. Instead, a range of alternative reasons were cited, with the most common including having better leisure opportunities (35%), more disposable income (32%) and an easier commute (31%). A third (32%) also said that they are able to spend more time with their family.

Respondents in the UAE were among the most likely to say that their work-life balance is better than that in their home country (61%). This put them ahead of those in France (52%), the UK (46%) and Canada (44%) by some margin.

However, the number of hours worked varied by region. Four-fifths (79%) of expats in the UAE, for example, reported working in excess of 40 hours per week. This was in comparison with two-thirds of those in the UK (64%) and Canada (66%), and just two-fifths of those (43%) in France.

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



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