5 Tips for expats to stay healthy and fit while working and living abroad

For many expatriates, working and living abroad opens the doors to new adventures and challenges. However, it is very important to stay healthy and fit while experiencing your new expat assignment. There are many potential health risks that you will definitely want to avoid, especially in some third world countries. In this article, we will discuss five tips on how to stay healthy while living in a new country.

1. Eat Healthy and Drink Clean Water 

Clean water is critical for staying healthy, whether it is used for food production, drinking or domestic purposes. According to a recent report retrieved from World Health Organization (WHO), contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Expatriates living and working abroad should be aware of the potential health risks of contaminated water and should take steps to secure clean water at work and at home. This is especially the case in water-stressed areas where drinking-water without improved sanitation. Contaminated water is a major transmission source of many diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, etc. It is strongly recommended expatriates to boil water before drinking if you are not 100% sure that the water is safe. In the end, maintaining hydration is critical both home and abroad, especially in hot climates.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), developing a healthy diet helps protect against leading noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Expatriates living and working abroad should avoid fast food or street food stands. Always go to local grocery stores or markets to find some fresh fruits and vegetables – but you should be careful eating raw vegetables in some developed countries. It is suggested to avoid unhealthy weight gain through consuming excess calories, sugar and salt.

2. Build an Exercise Routine

Physical activity has significant benefits for your health while living abroad as an expatriate. It has been reported by the WHO that physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for mortality causing 3.2 million deaths globally. Expatriates should exercise regularly through cycling, walking or sports while living and working abroad. Some expatriates may find it hard to rebuild an exercising routine in their destination country due to security risks or extreme climates. One suggestion is to purchase an exercise machine at home or join a gym. A healthy exercise routine will help expatriates to stay active and energetic.

3. Obtain International Health Insurance 

In many countries where local public healthcare facilities may not up to western standards, expatriates will want to use private medical care. However, these private facilities are usually very expensive, especially in emergency situations. Without appropriate international health insurance plan, expatriates could end up with receiving large medical bills and putting your financial status at risk. A global medical plan can not only cover large medical expenses, but it can also cover you for preventative health and medical tests that can help you maintain you and your family’s health. This can even include vaccinations and health monitoring.

An international health insurance plan will provide expatriates and their families worldwide coverage (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). It allows you to seek medical care internationally and is critical for expatriates residing in less developed countries where medical care facilities are below standard. Expatriates living and working abroad will benefit from an international insurance plan with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation and repatriation.

4. Be Aware of the Potential Health Risks 

Expatriates living and working abroad may travel frequently. There are many potential health risks such as tropical diseases, respiratory illness, open wounds, etc. These diseases may not make people feel too bad at first, however, they can get deteriorate very fast and become life threatening. If you feel sick in your destination country, seek medical help as soon as possible. Don’t postpone treatment. To stay healthy, it is often important to update routine vaccinations and avoid any potential health risks. Expatriates should always consult a medical professional about vaccination requirements before traveling.

5. Stay Socially Active and Maintain your Mental Health

Expatriates may find not as easy to socialize as they did back in their home country. However, researches have shown that staying socially active can help people maintain good emotional and physical health – especially when you are living abroad and living in a new country and experiencing culture shock. It is important for expatriates to join a group of trusted friends they can socialize with and plan some activities together in their destination country – most cities have active expat social scenes and clubs. These kinds of social interaction offer many benefits to expatriates. For example, global relocation and stresses may have negative impact and cause mental health challenges such as depression. Being socially active will minimize the stress level, monitor signs of depression and prevent other mental health issues.

Also, don’t forget to help your expat spouse and children as their new life abroad can be exciting, but also stressful and isolating. If your spouse is unable to obtain a work permit, maybe he or she can work remotely or volunteer. For expat kids who are experiencing difficulties living abroad, making friends and getting used to the new school – maybe consult a psychologist if required. Many expat health plans will cover mental health and counselling.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and excellent service and support to clients around the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers worldwide. For expats who may have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or  expatriate group insurance plans, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

6 Tips on How to Become an Expat

An expatriate, or expat, is a person who lives outside of their native country, according to the definition of  Oxford dictionary. Today, more and more people are willing to leave their home country and experience a brand new job or lifestyle abroad. To better prepare you for life overseas, we will discuss six simple tips on how to become an expatriate.

  • Find a job abroad

If you are interested in living abroad, the first step you would want to take is to find a job in your desired destination country. According to research, one of the reasons why people want to become expat is that expatriate employers often offer relatively higher salaries. Therefore, expat employees are more likely to experience a higher standard of living while working abroad.

In order to succeed in an international job, Expat resource centre offer excellent information on job hunting. Practical suggestions such as prepare CV and research the job market before you move, ensure that you have work permits or visa at hand, etc. to help future expats realize their dreams. To learn more, please view Expat employment – Job hunting tips.

  • Study abroad

Another option to become an expat is through studying abroad. And it is very popular among teens. According to NAFSA study, the number of American students studying abroad  during 2015 grew from 304,467 to 313,415. Studying overseas can be a great way to get a global perspective and the chance to learn a new language. The cost of studying abroad can be expensive, but in some less developed countries the tuition costs can sometimes be lower. However, more and more universities and colleges offer scholarships and bursaries. It is worth the time to research online for tuition funds to support foreign students.

  • Understand your destination’s culture

When moving overseas, one of the most unexpected events would be culture shock. And sometimes it can be quite frustrating depending on where you are moving to. For example, tipping in restaurants is common and considered normal in the U.S. and Canada. You are expected to add a 15% – 20% mark up to the bill in any restaurant; while in China or Japan, tipping in local restaurants is not required and can be considered insulting. There might be exceptions for some high-end western style cafes. However, even in these cafes, tipping is already included in the bill. It is suggested that future expats should do some research about your destination’s culture to avoid any embarrassment. The more research you can do on the customs and practices in your destination country the more successful your expat experience will become.

  • Travel abroad

It is always suggested if you travel to your destination country before relocating for a short trip. Through traveling, you will get to know its culture, food, people, etc. You will have a general idea whether the country that you are moving to will be suitable or not.

If you are traveling abroad for a short term trip up to one year, it is critical to obtain medical coverage for your entire trip that will cover emergency illnesses or injuries abroad. Our firm offers several travel medical plans from various insurers and providers. With IMG Patriot travel insurance coverage, you are covered with trip cancellation, lost baggage, emergency evacuation & repatriation, covering from as short as 15 days to 24 months. To learn more, please view the brochure below. 

  • Retiring Abroad

Retiring overseas is becoming more and more popular for citizens around the world and is a great way to become an expat. Generally speaking, South America, Asia and Europe are among the most popular expat retirement destinations. This is not only because of its favourable weather and beaches, but also its relatively low cost of living. For example, if retiring in Thailand, the cost of living is much lower than in the western countries. It’s possible to buy a one-bedroom home in Chiang Mai for around $50,000, according to several sources. Expats can pay around $500 per month to rent a home in Chiang Mai. According to International Living Magazine, Thailand is a very inexpensive country for expatriates. You will want to obtain tax and legal advice before retiring abroad as this can greatly impact your finances. 

  • Bring International Health Insurance with You

If you want to become an expatriate, it is critical for you to obtain an international health insurance plan that will not only cover medical treatment in your destination country, but also globally. Medical expenses while living abroad can be extremely expensive and local medical care in your new country may not be up to Western standards, especially if you are moving to a developing country. In some Asian countries such as China and Singapore, the cost of medical assistance can be surprisingly expensive for expats living there.

If you are an American citizen, you will want to include cover for the United States as most Americans will want to obtain treatment back home. Expats should make sure that their plan includes medical evacuation and repatriation coveragePlease contact us today for a quote and to discuss your expatriate insurance requirements. We would be delighted to be of assistance as we are expat insurance specialists. 

The impact of noncommunicable chronic diseases for expats

How the Global Impact of Chronic Conditions is Impacting Expatriates

Recently, Cigna has released a study on the global epidemic of noncommunicable chronic diseases and held a seminar for their brokers and clients. The study examined the situation of noncommunicable chronic diseases around the world and provided excellent suggestions for prevention. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a noncommunicable chronic disease is characterized by long duration and generally slow progression – these conditions are becoming more commonplace for local nationals and even expats. The wide spread of chronic diseases are putting expatriates’ health at risk. In this article, we will discuss the main types of chronic diseases based on Cigna’s research and advice for expatriate communities from expatriate health insurance professional perspective.

The Global Epidemic of Chronic Disease is Increasing 

As stated by Cigna’s study, noncommunicable diseases account for six in ten deaths worldwide. Major noncommunicable chronic diseases usually refer to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. According to Cigna’s report, approximately 19% of the American have diabetes, the figure rises up to 30% in Middle East; Just over 30% of Chinese have some form of diabetes. This is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, heart diseases, stroke and death.

The rates of obesity in adults and children are increasing globally. And in some parts of the world, the situation is getting worse. Obesity is another cause of cardiovascular diseases due to the force of the heart to push around a greater volume of blood, which easily causes high blood pressure. Scientists predict by 2025, one in five of the population will suffer from obesity; 36.5% of adults are considered obese, according to Cigna’s report.

How to Prevent from Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases as an Expat? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most chronic diseases are caused by three major risk factors: an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and tobacco. Many expats working abroad often do not have the time to eat healthy foods or exercise and may be surrounded by fast food restaurants, vending machines and food trucks. However, building a healthy diet is crucial for your health when living and working abroad. When shopping at grocery stores, make sure to cut the high-sugar and high-carbohydrate food from your shopping list. Replace them with vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and other healthy choices based on your eating schedule.

Regular exercise is good for your body, both physically and mentally. However, expats may find hard to rebuild an exercise routing when working and living abroad. Many expat may live in cities with few exercise options or in very extreme climates or in areas with bad security. Often the easiest way to start exercising is practicing yoga at home or purchase an exercise machine. Expats should develop a personal exercise routine and live an active lifestyle.

International Health Insurance is Critical for Expats Worldwide 

Most expat employers may not aware of the cost of the treatment of chronic diseases for expatriate employees overseas can be very high. It usually requires a specific plan to cover ongoing health needs. If an expat develops an illness later on it may be recognized as a pre-existing condition when trying to obtain health coverage. A global benefit plan can offer full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions to avoid claims being denied or coverage being restricted for expat employees. 

Expat Financial is able to offer flexible international expat group insurance plans  in most regions around the globe:  Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, South America, Caribbean, Oceania, Central America, and all major cities in the world. Expat Financial can also offer international health insurance plans for individual expatriates that may be able to cover some existing chronic conditions depending on their severity and subject to underwriter approval. International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

If you have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or your company requires a global expatriate group insurance plan, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

The benefits of taking an expat mining job in Africa

Expat Mining Assignments in Africa – A Great Opportunity

In the past 10 or 20 years, there has been a mining boom in Africa as more and more global mining firms have been searching for minerals and setting up producing mines, most in very remote regions of the continent. As companies have increased exploration, especially in Central Africa, they have had to recruit expatriate talent from around the world to fill vital management and executive functions at mine exploration and development sites.

According to several reports, in 2015, almost 65% of  international mining companies claimed to increase investment on explosives as the market environment continue to improve. This means a shortage in local mining job market, especially for expat mining professionals.

With the recent improvements in metal prices, especially for gold, we are confident that the mining industry will continue to grow in Africa. There will be benefits for both local nationals and expatriates. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of expat mining jobs in Africa.

Excellent Career Opportunities for Expats in Africa Mining Industry

According to 2016 Ernst & Young Africa Attractiveness Survey, the long term outlook for economic growth & investment in Africa remains positive. Many major and minor mining firms are actively looking experienced and talented people from around the world. Positions such as mine engineering, electrical technicians, structural engineering, geologists are required for various mine operations. Other skilled expat positions in mining are available. Working overseas, especially in remote mine sites, can be quite challenging, but can also boost your mining industry career.

Explore Africa’s Culture

There are 54 countries in Africa today. Each country has a diverse culture, unique art and music representing regions. For example, Ghana, the second biggest producer of gold in Africa, has over 100 ethnic groups residents inside the country. In history, Ghana is the place of the great Ashanti empire during the late 17th century. Kumasi, served as capital of the empire, is one of the most advanced cities in Africa. The Ghanaian people are friendly to expat community. For expatriates working in Africa, Ghana has much to offer. There are also many other countries in Africa that can offer expatriates excellent cultural activities, resorts and tourist spots to explore.

Attractive Expatriate Salaries Available in Africa

Expatriates looking for mining jobs in Africa will find that the remuneration package is usually quite competitive. Many major mining firms will offer excellent accommodations with laundry services, expatriate community facilities such as basketball courts, fitness centre, satellite TV, etc. Mining companies are often willing to provide lucrative expatriate salary to attract and retain mining professionals. This can include schooling for your children posted abroad with families. Expatriates who are proficient in English and a second language are often highly preferred employees. If you have experience in working in Africa, this can be a great asset.

Working in Africa Can be an Adventure 

Africa is a land full of adventures and wonders: safaris, camping, diving, etc. Working in Africa is a way to get a completely different adventurous experience. You are working with local people during day time and spend weekend with them together. You will not only experience adventure travel and outdoor exploration, but also a chance to learn local language and lead an intercultural lifestyle. It is worth noting that some parts of Africa can be unsafe, so you should make sure that you and your employer will be taking steps to insure your safety.

Don’t Forget International Insurance Coverage for Expat Mining Assignments in Africa

Future expatriates need to keep in mind that working & living in Africa will have challenges. For example, the water supply and electricity in some countries is unreliable and there are often danger roads and more exotic illnesses in the region. South Africa, one of the richest country in Africa, has very good medical facilities and many expats working in the region will travel or be evacuated there to receive treatment. However, in some other poor African countries, the healthcare facilities is often far below standard. It is vital that expatriate mining professionals obtain excellent expat insurance coverage from their employer or on their own.

Many mining companies will offer health insurance plans for expat mining staff that they employ. It is crucial for expat employers and employees to obtain international health insurance with global life and accident coverage, dental and long term disability coverage. Some mining executives working in Africa will have to source their own coverage, especially if they are working as consultants – luckily our firm has a wide range of individual plans available. Evacuation coverage is obviously critical for mining employees residing in most Africa countries as more serious illnesses and injuries will often require medical care in another country or even in another continent, such as Europe. Another concern is civil strife, war and terrorism – which can be quite common in certain African nations. Thus, it is critical that your corporate policy for your expats in Africa have full war and terrorism coverage.

If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.  We have extensive experience in sourcing global mining insurance coverage. For more information, please view our Global Mining Brochure. A quality expat benefit plan is critical if your resource company wants to protect & cover its employees, cover its risks and help retain and and attract the top mining employee talent to operations in Africa.