Top 5 most livable cities in the world for expatriates

In many surveys of the quality of living over the years, there are five that are often viewed top global cities for expats and locals alike. There are many factors are taken into account when considering a top city for expats: drinkable water, electricity, transportation, housing, safety, pollution levels, city infrastructure and much more. They are all important considerations when determining the allowance for expatriate workers in expat assignment and creating an effective relocation policy for organizations. While what makes a top city is open to debate and is quite subjective, in this article, we will introduce five extremely livable cities in the world for expatriates take into consideration when assessing an expat destination or on assignment. Since the cities note below change in their rankings on various studies, we have included them below in no particular order.

5. Vancouver, Canada 

In the Economist’s August 2016 report, Vancouver, Canada ranked the 3rd best cities of the world. The ranking was based on a series of factors related to healthcare, safety, and security, infrastructure, environment, etc. Vancouver is a multicultural cosmopolitan city with natural beauty, attracts many expats every year. Living in Vancouver, you will have the chance to access to many leisure activities, a much more favourable climate with mild winters and exciting events and festivals. While real estate prices are extremely high in Vancouver, the city remains an excellent place for expatriates to live, work or retire. To learn more, please read our Vancouver expat city guide.

4. Munich, Germany

Munich is an attractive city with rich culture and cultural heritage ranked 3rd most populous city in Germany. Also, as a major international business centre and expatriate destination, Munich owns headquarters of many multinational companies and advanced technology organizations. It has repeatedly ranked into the top 10 most livable cities of the world. It is the most populated city in Bavaria and lies on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. The city is well known for the Oktoberfest, especially at the famed Hofbräuhaus beer hall. This great city is a favored tourist and expat location where modern and traditional coexist.

3. Auckland, New Zealand 

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and economic centre. It is the most populous city in New Zealand. Living in such a multicultural and diverse city, expatriates will enjoy vibrant outdoor sporty life and relaxing weekend beach life. As one of the business and industrial centre of New Zealand, many international companies and organizations have offices in Auckland. The climate is usually warm and humid.

 

2. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich has consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the world, according to many expatriate surveys. Zurich is considered as an important financial centre in the world with many banks, financial institutions, and the world’s 4th largest stock exchange centre. The city is clean, safe and there are generally no language barriers for expatriates. English is widely spoken, especially in the workplace. The standard of healthcare in Zurich is high. Expatriates should obtain compulsory private medical insurance before moving to Zurich.

1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna is recognized as home to famous operas, stunning architectures, art galleries and beautiful streets. In addition to the best coffee shops, this excellent expat city has consistently ranked as a  top destination by many well-known magazines. Vienna is also a center for many big international organizations such as the United Nations and Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe.

Bring International Health Insurance with You 

It is critical for expatriates to obtain international health insurance before relocating to a new city abroad. An international health insurance plan will provide international citizens and their families worldwide coverage (except in the USA unless you add it as an optional benefit). Whether you are residing the countryside or the city, it is vital that you purchase a plan that allows you to seek medical care internationally. Expatriates living and working abroad will benefit from a global medical policy with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation and repatriation.

Expat Financial offers excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. 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.

Source: Mercer recently releases a list of the top cities to live in based on a study that they make every year.

2017 Travel Destinations: Best of China for Expats & Visitors

Top Travel Destinations for Visitors & Expats in China

With roughly 5000 years of history, China has a very rich heritage to see and explore. In this article, we have listed for you the top 10 travel destinations of 2017 for expats and short-term visitors to China:

1. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the longest wall in the world. It across several provinces such as Beijing, Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This is because the Great Wall is built at different dynasties by different emperors. The Great Wall has earned “the New Seven Wonders of the World” and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. Having visited the Great Wall of China in 1982, this is the most impressive structure in China and definitely worth a visit.

2.The Forbidden City in Beijing

The famous Forbidden City, was a palace from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty, crossing the years 1420 to 1921. It served as the home of kings and their queens, as well as the political and ceremonial center of Chinese government. You will see a wide range of artwork collections in the museum. The palace was built with whole logs of precious wood. If you are in Beijing, you should definitely visit this important site.

3. Taishan Mountain 

Taishan Mountain is one of the most famous mountains of China, and is considered an exceptional historic and cultural value. Also, the ancient Taoist tradition started there. Located in Shandong to the west, Taishan Mountain covers an area of 426 square kilometers and it 5,029 ft high above sea level. From ancient dynasties, many famous poems were based on the beautiful scenery of Taishan.

4. West Lake in Hangzhou

There is an old saying in Chinese “Paradise in Heaven; Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth”. Many famous traditional love stories took place in West Lake, Hangzhou. It has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a must visit for expatriates in China. It owns many garden-style parks, traditional bridges, and hills.

Recent years, Hangzhou has become a technology and economic center of China. Also as one of the most important tourist cities in China, Hangzhou is attracting more and more visitors and expats all over the world.

5. Guilin – Li River 

In North Guangxi, Guilin is one of the best-known tourist destinations in China. There are a lot of rivers in Guilin, including the most famous Li River. Its length is around 437 kilometers. America’s National Geographic magazine has rated Li river as one of the world’s top 10 watery wonders. Visitors and expats can cruise in boats on the Li river. Despite the beautiful sights, there is a small but wonderful town called Yangshuo near Guilin city. A lot of expats and tourists residing there. It is not surprising to see western cafes and restaurants on West Street of Yangshuo. Also, this is a great place for hiking and cycling.

6. The Terracotta Army

Also known as The Terracotta Warriors, it is a collection of terracotta sculptures of Qin Dynasty, the very first emperor in Chinese history. During ancient China, funerary burry with the emperor is very popular. The army is served to protect the king in his afterlife. There are also horses and chariots included in the army, as well as musicians and officials. Estimates show that there are approximately 8,000 soldiers, 520 horses contain in the Terracotta Army. Experts estimate that there could be more buried inside Qin’s tomb. Visitors and expats can go to the exhibition constructed right above the Terracotta Army.

7. Luoyang

Luoyang is one of the oldest imperial capital cities in China and is quite popular with tourists in China. There are many important historical sites in Luoyang: Shaolin Temple, the origin and home to Kung Fu; And the Longmen Grottoes, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in China. Other popular travel destinations include White Horse Pagoda, Museum of Ancient Tombs, etc. Luoyang has a very pleasant weather all year round.

8. Danxia landscape 

The Danxia national park is located in northwestern Gansu Province in China. The landscape has numerous red rocks, most of which are several hundreds of meters high. The best time to visit Danxia landscape is from June to September. Expats and visitors may want to contact local tour guides to make sure you get the most beautiful scenes.

9. Zhangjiajie 

Zhangjiajie is well-known for its towering sandstone pillars, very suitable for outdoor activity lovers and adventurous people. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a good place for mountain hiking and photography. The park has different areas to explore: Tianzi Mountain is famous for its mists and clouds; Gold Whip Stream is good for a relaxing walking; Natural villages, undeveloped and quiet. Zhangjiajie has a humid climate all year round. Expats and travelers may want to avoid traveling to this region in the winter.

Bring International Health Insurance With You

As you can see from our list above, there are lots of excellent natural and cultural sites for expats and tourists in China. However, medical care can be very expensive in China. It is strongly suggested that you should obtain quality expat health insurance before departure or travel medical insurance for short visits. Medical facilities in many areas are very basic, especially in the countryside. Even in many major cities that satisfactory healthcare in public hospitals for expats are available, the method of payment and the quality of medical treatment may be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals.

For long-term stays in China, it is recommended that you obtain a comprehensive expat health insurance plan, which should cover you for medical expenses, hospitalization and treatments, medicines and emergency evacuations – which are all you need to stay in China. Some Chinese embassies require proof of health insurance before issuing visas especially if you are a foreign student.

Expat Financial offers excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our dynamic firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in China.

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments – Language Tips for Expats

According to a recent survey that was carried out by Rosetta Stone, approximately three-fifths of global mobility experts believe that learning the local language is crucial to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, if an expat employee is able to communicate with the local business team and partners, then it definitely helps when building the bridge between local business leaders, expats, and the head office. In this article, we will discuss how more easily speak or learn your host country’s language as an expat. This may help you have a more successful and happy expat assignment.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

Out of the most popular languages, Chinese Mandarin is often seen as the most important language for expat employees, especially if residing in China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. Other popular languages including Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian and Japanese. Spanish is the primary language of Central America and  South America, not to mention Cuba and parts of the U.S..  French is also widely spoken in varies countries, including Canada, Belgium, Haiti, etc. Arabic is mostly spoken in the Middle East and Egypt. It is the sixth official language of the United Nations. For expatriates planning to live and work abroad, it is recommended to have a working knowledge of your destination’s foreign language. Learning the local language will help you have a much better chance to start a conversation with local people, employees and better integrate. It can definitely also advance your career in your new assignment country.

How to Learn a Foreign Language

  • Join a language learning group or attending a course: There are usually many language learning groups available in major cities in popular expat destination countries. Try to find a local colleague or friend who would be willing to help you learn the language. If you can not find anyone who speaks the language or there are no language learning groups, try to apply and attend a language learning course. Many language learning schools provide modern language teaching techniques and updated learning materials in a small class size. Some of them even offer expat students to take part in the local cultural activities. For busy expats, taking private language lessons are more suitable than taking group lessons. Private language lessons are flexible, with options on the certain fields, such as business communication. Another popular option would be taking an online language learning course. It is flexible and location independent.
  • Employer-Sponsored: It is recommended that the expat employer provide some language courses both before and during the expat assignment. Even just learning a few words and phrases can help your expat employees better integrate into their new surroundings.
  • Self-studying: Some expats will try to learn a new language themselves through spending a couple of hours each week and using a dictionary to enlarge your vocabulary at any time during the day. According to scientific research, language learning is based on repetition. If you spend some time every day to study the foreign language, you are likely to learn it well within a few months. A dictionary is a very useful tool for you to consult when you are finding the necessary words. Expats can use either an actual dictionary or a translator app. There are also lots of great online courses, such as ones offered by Babel and Rosetta Stone.

  • Immerse yourself in the language: Being immersed in a foreign language means that you are interacting, listening and speaking in the language daily. There are many conversation examples and lessons on Youtube and live stream radio on websites. And these are all free to access. Reading the local language can be very difficult for expats, but try to start from local magazines or newspapers, read a short article at the beginning, look up any words that you don’t understand. This will allow you to recognize commonly used words and phrases.
  • Embrace making mistakes: The best way to learn a new language is practicing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Focus on the practicing process other than on perfection. The more you speak, the better chance you will get to the ideal level.
  • Learn important vocabulary: One of the most important things about learning a new language is vocabulary. Even if you don’t understand a whole paragraph or a sentence, knowledge about some keywords will help you to understand the general meaning of a conversation. It is better for expats to focus on learning the most common words, and figure out which category of vocabulary is most relevant to you. Another important vocabulary is about health care. In case there is a medical emergency, you are able to talk about your medical condition to medical staff.
  • Don’t Forget About Dependents: If you are an expat with a partner or children living abroad, it is also critical to assist them in their new language endeavors. Check if the local school will provide lessons in the local language and suggest that your spouse enrolls in some courses as well.

Don’t Forget Your International Health Insurance 

Learning a new language and living abroad is a wonderful experience within the reach of you and your family. That new language will assit you should you require medical care from a facility or doctor who doesn’t speak your language. A great medical plan will also provide medical insurance support in all the major languages. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world who are about to move abroad or already there. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan – we are your advocate. 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.

5 Tips for expats to live like a local when moving abroad

In this article, you will learn about how expatriates can adjust to their new county by learning about the local culture, make friends and adapt to their new surroundings. We have put together five tips for expatriates who want to learn how to live abroad like the locals.

  • Learn the Language

Expatriates will find that learning the local language is crucial when trying to immerse themselves in another country and culture. Once you start to speak the local language, the locals will start to open up to you. It is not just a way of communication, it shows your respect to the local culture. Don’t struggle to become fluent. Try to start with some basic greeting expressions – as long as you try, that’s all that counts. You can get assistance with learning a language from a variety of online resources, such as Babel. Others will take language classes before and after moving abroad. However, there is no substitute for diving right in when you move to your new location. The less you use your native language, the faster it will be before you are conversing with the locals over a cup of espresso. Finally, it is important to learn the local customs of your destination country to avoid embarrassment and better integrate into the culture.

  • Making Connections

Many expatriates may tend to make friends with other expats of similar background, especially if they are going to local expat pubs and gatherings. However, it is a good idea to try to make some local friends as well. It may be difficult at first, but having a few trusted local friends will enrich your expat experience and will help you adapt the cultural differences. Don’t expect to feel immediately accepted and comfortable in your new environment, but try to be open and friendly.

  • Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture

There could be many elements to make you feel that you are a foreigner, no matter in your daily life or at work. In order to get involved in the local culture, expatriates are encouraged to go out and attend local events such as colleagues’ party, high tea with your new neighbor, etc. These important social interactions will make you want to explore the new culture and keep the curiosity about the destination country.

  • Integrate Into Local Community

Some expat experts recommend that you try to live like the locals and integrate into local communities. As an expatriate, you have a lot to contribute such as volunteering and sharing your skills and experience at local educational institutions. It is also encouraged for expats to keep their hobbies while living abroad. If you are fond of painting, then join a local artist club; If you love sports, you can join a sports team. Once you obtain local connections and a group of friends, you will start to enjoy the expat life.

  • Eat Like the Locals 

Enjoying food with new friends is one of the best ways to break the ice. That’s why we recommend that you try the authentic local cuisine at restaurants. If possible, avoid the familiar chain restaurants that you visit in your home country. When shopping at local grocery stores, try to imitate the shopping list locals make and buy locally produced food.

How to Handle Health Care When Living Abroad

To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. To better plan and prepare a safe and rewarding journey before departure, one of the most important considerations is international health insuranceExpat 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.

Six tips for planning an international relocation

Moving abroad requires a great deal of planning, especially for those who are planning for a long-term assignment, travel or retiring abroad. If you are planning an international move, you will find the pocess can longer than you think it will. To better assist you during the transition, we will discuss 6 quick tips on how to plan an international relocation for future expatriates.

  • Making Decision and Check All Important Documentations

It is critical that future expatriates should make a decision as early as possible. Once you have firmly decided to relocate overseas, you are able to move forward and make plans. Getting started a year or 10 months in advance will provide you with enough time to plan and react.

Another important reason for making an early decision is due to the processing time of work permit or visas required in your destination country. In some countries, it can take up to a year to process and approve a visa. Therefore, it is suggested that future expatriates apply and submit the required documentation as soon as possible. Make sure that your official documents, such as passport, birth certificate, ID card, driver’s license, etc… are all valid. Please check to see if your family member’s documents are in order as well if they are moving with you. In general, entry into any countries for tourism or business trip requires that your passport be valid for at least three months. If you are planning a long-term relocation abroad, it is better to have your passport with at least 6 months’ validity remaining.

Obtain other required documentation such as your children’s school report card, which is vital if enrolling in a new school in your destination country; and all legal documents that you plan to take with you: birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical records, bank drafts, medical insurance documents, etc.

  • Arrange for Necessary Vaccinations 

As international travelers, they may face many potential health risks and diseases. According to a new study published recently on Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the international travelers in the USA did not get vaccinated between 2009 and 2014. This may result in severe infection in countries where many diseases are prevalent. It is critical to arrange for necessary vaccinations before departure. For example, if you are moving to Hong Kong, suggested vaccines to consider are: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Measles and Yellow Fever.

It is important to note that each country may have different vaccination entry requirements. It is recommended that future expatriates contact their doctors to verify additional vaccinations requirements of the destination country or region.

  • Job Search 

Another consideration is obtaining a job overseas. Most expats will want to start researching employment opportunities in your destination country long before leaving. It is important to know whether you need any additional certifications or training, such as TOEFL/IELTS certification of English proficiency, research abstract (for early-stage researchers), teaching portfolio, a complete list of publications, second language skills, etc. We encourage future expatriates to apply for a job as soon as possible due to the processing time of work permit application.

For younger people who haven’t found a job but decided to move abroad, many countries offer special programme to provide them with work opportunities. For example, in Canada, The International Experience Canada provides young people aged 18 – 35 from all over the world to work and travel in Canada. Future expatriates should try to do research and participate in this kind of programs and gain valuable working experience. Please keep in mind that in some countries there might be age restrictions. Please check carefully before you apply.

  • Financial Assessment

Before moving overseas, it is suggested that expats have a full financial accounting and take into account the cost of living in your destination country, including apartment rental rates, property purchase cost, school tuition fees, meals and more. Try not to forget any moving expenses such as boxes and packing materials fees, transportation of furniture. If you are lucky, your employer may provide some assistance and subsidies for your expat assignment. All future expats should also look into your expat tax obligations in both your home country and your destination country. Check out our links page for some great expat tax accountants. Contact your bank and get a global account for internet banking. If you have mortgage or loan payments in your home country, please also set up a direct payment account with your bank while you are away.

  • Language Training 

Communication is crucial for expatriates who want to live and work overseas. If expats are relocating to a destination country with language barriers, the interaction could be very difficult for their integration and even career. This is especially true if expats are in dangerous situations or medical emergencies. Therefore, it is recommended that future expats receive basic local language training before departure. It will also accelerate the adjustment of foreign expatriates.

expat healthcare if critical

  • Obtain International Health Insurance 

International health insurance coverage is obviously a necessity and should be future expats’ top consideration. Make sure you and your family are covered by a comprehensive medical plan in your destination country. Expat Financial offers a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for any expatriates of any nationality around much of the world. With expat health insurance plans, you and your family’s health are protected through an appropriate level of expat insurance. It is quite easy for expats to obtain a quote for one of our comprehensive international health plans. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. You can still purchase global medical coverage if you have already moved abroad.

6 Reasons to become an expatriate in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan metropolis located in Asia. As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, it has a thriving economy with easy access to all major cities in East and Southeast Asia, including Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul.  As a critical and influential business center in Southeast Asia, fully 115 countries have consulates in Hong Kong, surpassing any other city in the world. The official languages in Hong Kong are Chinese and English. Hong Kong has attracted international visitors and talents from across the world. In this article, we will discuss 5 reasons to become an expatriate in Hong Kong.

Convenience 

If you ask expatriates who are already living in Hong Kong about what their impression of the city, they would tell you that Hong Kong is a vibrant city with the highest efficiency and convenience. According to CNN Travel, Hong Kong has the highest density of convenience stores such as 7-Elevens in the world. Most of them operate 24/7. Some restaurants offer late-night meal till 3 am in the morning. Hong Kong also has a very well established public transportation system. In addition to speed train and bus, Hong Kong has more than 18,000 taxies serving the public. Anytime you want to get around Hong Kong, choose a taxi or train or a combination of all, you’ll have an efficient and convenient trip.

It is important for expatriates to note that taxi fare information will be listed on the inside of the taxi. If encounter any problems, please take down the taxi driver’s name and licence plate number for future references.

Healthcare 

The medical facilities in Hong Kong are considered as high standards of medical practice. There are 11 private hospitals and 42 public hospitals in Hong Kong. Both public and private hospitals are equipped with the most advanced medical technology. Most of the medical staff and doctors can speak English. The public medical system delivers a comprehensive range of medical services including emergency medical treatment. Private hospitals in Hong Kong have partnered with the United Kingdom under international healthcare accreditation. Most expatriates in Hong Kong would want to use the private medical system due to the long waiting period in public system.

The medical cost in the region is very high. Expatriates living and working in Hong Kong would want to obtain international health insurance before departure. Many expats in Hong Kong will add optional dental care for their family. For more information regarding Hong Kong international health insurance options, please click here. The Allianz plan can offer excellent health coverage in Hong Kong.

Education 

Universities in Hong Kong are recognized as top schools of education in Asia, according to many global surveys. The education sector in Hong Kong is based on the British model, even primary school is highly competitive. There are also many private international schools span from grade one to grade twelve. Most international schools use English-based curriculum and IB (International Baccalaureate) program. Expatriates who want to enroll their children in private schools should start the application process as early as possible to secure the limited number of spaces available.

Expat Community

As an international business centre in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong is known as a city with a large expat population. According to research, the majority of expatriates who are living in Hong kong mainly come from the United States, Britain, and Australia. In addition, foreign residents include Malaysian, Portuguese, Japanese, Canadian, Indonesian, etc. living and working in the city are also quite common.

Safety 

While Hong Kong is a large city and with any metropolis of this size, crime will be more common, but in our opinion, we would consider it a very safe city. As a traveler there, I have never felt unsafe. The city has an excellent police force and is a great place to live for an expat family. You should be careful to avoid doing a foreign exchange on the street and also be aware that some goods offered to you may be fake. You should keep your ID on you at all times just in case you are asked for it by local authorities.

A Great City of Business

Without a doubt, Hong Kong is a great city to become an expatriate. This bustling city is home to hundreds of corporate and branch offices of large global companies that are operating in Asia and around the world. An expat career in Hong Kong should be a highlight of any resume and should also allow you to move forward in your company. It is one of the most business-friendly cities in the world and government red tape is at a minimum. If you are an expat searching or a great place to work or a business wanting to explore opportunities in Asia, Hong Kong should probably be your first stop.

7 Reasons to become an expat in Vietnam

Vietnam is the eighth most populous Asian country. It is located in Southeast Asia, bordering China, Cambodia, and Laos. Tourism in Vietnam is a major component of its vibrant economy. According to reports, the number of international visitors has increased from 7 million to 10 million in 2016. And tourist arrivals in Vietnam have continued to rise in 2017. For expats, Vietnam has become a popular expat destination in Asia. In this article, we will discuss top 7 reasons to become an expat in Vietnam.

Attractive Natural and Cultural Experiences

Vietnam has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi, Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, Complex of Hue Monuments, as well as natural sites such as Ha Long Bay. There are many wonderful culture and history heritage sites to enrich your expat experience in Vietnam. You can start a day by visiting the ancient civilizations in Hoi An, enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the region, and explore the night market and try local delicacies.

Lower Cost of Living 

According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Vietnam is about 43% lower than in Canada. For US expats, the country is a great place to return as a three course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant would cost $17.61 USD. A bottle of imported beer costs $1.32 USD. Groceries are generally much less expensive than those in North America. Though prices range among different cities, the average rent fee in Vietnam is almost 50% cheaper than in North America, according to Numbeo. For expatriates coming from a Western country, they will be pleased to discover that the cost of living in Vietnam is a great value.

Friendly Expat Community in Vietnam 

There are many expatriates working and living in Vietnam. You can either reside in a typical expat neighbourhood or choose to fully immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture. For expatriates relocating with family and children, there are great areas that will cater to your requirements along with some excellent foreign schools. It would be a great idea to connect and become friends with the expats community and join a sport team.

Teaching English in Vietnam 

Education is very important in Vietnamese culture and expats can find many ESL teaching opportunities in Vietnam. The government of Vietnam implemented a National Foreign languages Project, aiming for most of Vietnam’s students to be using English confidently for work and study by 2020. There are numerous international schools, state owned universities, private owned education institutions, language centres. Many of these schools are looking for hiring the qualified ESL teachers who come from overseas.

Friendly People 

Like many other countries in Asia, everywhere you go, local residents in Vietnam are friendly to foreign visitors. The overall culture and tradition in Vietnam is easy-going and hospitable. Most expats will find that the traditional culture and hospitality are quite welcoming.

Vietnam Cuisine 

The Vietnamese diet is quite attractive to expats living there and is also quite varied. Often, food there will include influences from the Chinese and Indian, and the French cuisine. Common Vietnamese dishes include fish sauce, lemongrass, fresh herbs (basil leaves), shrimp paste and mint. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is mostly using fresh ingredients, such as the use of fresh lime instead of vinegar. One of the most classic Vietnamese dish is the well-known pho. It is a rice noodle soup with either beef or chicken, served with Vietnamese lime, bean sprouts, mint and fresh chilies. Expats living and working in Vietnam will have the chance to try different traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

Convenient Travel from Vietnam

Another benefit of relocating to Vietnam is that, you can have easy and inexpensive access to other Asian countries. Starting in Ho Chi Min, you can plan your travel itinerary as VietnamLaosCambodiaThailandChina. Generally speaking, Vietnam serves as a gateway to Southeast Asia and other Asian countries such as Japan. There are also excellent beaches and tourist opportunities for expats in Vietnam.

Don’t Forget to Bring your International Health Insurance 

The government of Vietnam is working to develop a universal healthcare system for its citizens. Although the standard of medical care is considered good in major cities, in rural areas it is still insufficient and not readily available. The standard of care in private hospitals in Vietnam is usually quite good. Most private clinics have doctors from the US, Japan and Europe. The cost of private medical care can vary considerably.

At present, most expats will usually opt to use private hospitals as these are usually equipped with English-speaking medical staff. Expats should ensure that they obtain international health insurance before moving to Vietnam. Many expats may want to seek medical treatment in Bangkok or Singapore for specialist and medical emergencies.

For expat health insurance in Vietnam, it is important that you obtain plan that will provide reimbursement for medical expenses via a large network of hospitals. Many expats should also obtain global life and disability insurance coverage while residing in Vietnam. If you require a quote for insurance coverage in Vietnam, contact Expat Financial today for a quote and to discuss your Vietnamese expatriate insurance requirements.

Five tips for a successful study abroad

Students from all over the world want to experience traveling and studying abroad – to visit a new place, try the authentic local cuisine, meet new people and become fluent in another language. Others want to take advantage of education opportunities, course and experiences that only a foreign university can offer. But how do you make the most of your overseas experience and integrate yourself into the local culture? In this article, we will discuss five quick tips for a successful study abroad to make the most out of it.

  • Find a Balance Between School and Your Spare Time 

The primary reason for international students to study abroad is to learn skills and obtain a degree. Therefore, having a study schedule with all the important dates is a good idea. It will help you to prioritize your study time and stay organized. However, it is also very important to give your brain a bit of break and do something that you enjoy. The best suggestion is to make the most of your study time, while avoid cramming yourself during the exam period. Give yourself some time to study every day. That doesn’t mean partying every night – pace yourself.

  • Continue Your Hobbies and Join Clubs

It is encouraged for international students to try different things and join clubs while studying abroad. Many universities have plenty of student clubs, athletic activities and groups available to new students. From there, you may have a chance to continue your hobbies or discover some new interests. You just might meet some new friends who may be from your home country or those from the local region. Immerse yourself in your new country as this should help you integrate into your new offshore student life. And the priceless relationships you developed with your friends at university can be a lifelong connection – and it may just help your career.

  • Experience the Local Culture 

One of the advantages of being an international student is to experience the local culture that a tourist can’t. Many universities have home stay programs, either short-term or longer period. This may give you a chance to experience the day-to-day life of the local people, learn cultural differences, overcome language barrier, etc. A home stay arrangement may also save you money as local residences and apartments will probably be quite expensive. Home cooking from a local home stay house may also be a great feature.

  • Ask for Help if you Experience Stress While Studying Abroad

Facing challenges and stress when studying abroad is quite normal. However, if you don’t handle it well, it can have negative effects on your performance. If you need certain support and help, it is encouraged to ask your teachers or supervisors and talk to them about your stress. Keep regular breaks and exercise daily, and spend time with your friends. You should check if your health coverage will pay for claims associated with mental illness.

  • Obtain Health Insurance When You Study Abroad

If you are studying abroad and traveling often, it is very important to obtain appropriate health insurance plan. Although many colleges, universities and educational institutions will offer some international health insurance plan, the coverage may be very basic or only cover you in your destination country (not back home). And the university plan may not cover your overseas travel. To learn more about international student health insurance, please click here to learn more about the great plans that we can offer students.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your student health insurance requirements so we can make a recommendation that will fit your needs. If your overseas education facility would like to discuss offering a plan for its students or even the expatriate staff, please contact us to discuss a group plan. For more information, please click here and obtain our one page international student health insurance brochure.

Top 10 tips for expat women living abroad

Many expat women living and working in a foreign country face unique challenges that include physical well-being, common illness and health care issues. In this article, we will discuss ten health & safety tips to prepare for your new life abroad. At Expat Financial, we are want to share our expat knowledge that includes providing expat health advice before and after relocating abroad.

Know General Medical Standards in Your Destination Country Before You Go

It is recommended to do some research on general medical standards in your destination country before relocating. In most countries, the healthcare system is divided into two categories: public and private medical care. In some countries, the healthcare standard is very high. Government funded hospitals are well equipped and staffed, with excellent services to patients. However, in other countries, hospitals may only provide basic medical treatment and lack of specialist care. In order to better prepare for your life abroad, it is recommended to do some research on general medical standards in your destination country before relocating.

Get Immunizations 

Many expat adults are not up to date with their vaccines. The specific vaccines you need as an expat are determined by many factors such as age, job, relocation plans, health condition, etc. To prevent yourself from getting new and difference diseases, it is critical to visit your doctor and get immunizations before departure. You can even get some great vaccination information from the CDC.

Bring Travel Medications

If you are under certain medical condition and require regular medication, then you should pack at least three months’ supply with you when relocating abroad. Many medical experts suggest that you have access to your medication in your expat destination and that bottles are clearly marked with your prescription. Expat women should also bring birth control pills if required. For long term relocation abroad, expat women should also prepare a good first aid kit with everything you need. Always pack an extra pair of contact lenses or eyeglasses wherever you go.

Try to Avoid the Expat Blues

Whether you are moving abroad for retirement or travel, you may face a series of challenges as an expat woman. The term “trailing spouse” is refer to a person who follows his or her partner overseas because of work arrangement. Due to a recent survey of more than 14,000 overseas expats, the 84% of trailing spouses are female and most of them are highly educated. However, according to the survey, only 24% of them have jobs. Others are staying at home and not working. This mainly because of work visa restrictions or family needs, taking care of children, etc. Even though they are highly educated, they could often not find any adequate job assignments with an appropriate payment range. This can be very difficult when adapting an international move.

When you move abroad and leave behind you career, your life is entering a new stage. Don’t be afraid to loose your sense of self-worth. Rather, take some time and allow yourself to redefine your identity in the new country. Embracing these potential differences will make your life overseas more enjoyable. Your mental health is a crucial part of your overall healthcare while living abroad. 

Build a Supportive Network

It is important that trailing spouses and expat women find a way to counteract frustration. Go out and join a social groups, participate in volunteer groups, sports classes or language lessons. For expats who are very busy, you can expand your network online. There are many expat supportive forums and websites which provide a sense of community. This will eliminate doubts, negative thoughts and uncertainty.

Connect Yourself to Local Community

It is not a good idea for expat women to isolate themselves from their new culture. Indeed, it is vital to find ways to get involved in the local community. It is strongly recommended that expats go out and engage locals and other expatriates alike. No matter you are meeting local friends or expat friends, they will help you to overcome communication barriers and culture shock. This kind of interaction will immerse yourself in local living, the earlier you start, the quicker you will eliminate the uncomfortable feeling about an unfamiliar country.

Take Steps to Secure Your Safety and Security While Living Abroad

According to the Government of Canada, expat women are facing greater challenges such as petty and violent crime, the dangers of international cyber-dating, etc. Therefore, it is critical for expat women to plan carefully in order to minimize your risks while living and working abroad.

Before going to your destination country, it is recommended to do a risk assessment that includes safety and security, healthcare, political environment, and culture customs. During your travel, try to avoid displaying expensive-looking jewelry and other devices that may indicate you as a wealthy expat. Beware of strangers, including locals, fellow travelers, use only legal and reputable taxis. Pay attention to fraudulent ads that recruit foreign women for work as models, maids, nannies, etc… Unfortunately, expat women have to pay extra attention to their safety while working and living abroad.

Eating Healthy & Exercise is Critical for Expat Women

When you are moving to a new country, it is critical to maintain healthy eating habits. 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 be aware that local sanitary conditions can vary in third world countries. It always makes sense for expatriates work out often, though it can be more difficult while living overseas. Jogging around a park, exercising yoga, hiking, running and golf are all popular options. If you prefer treadmill and gyms, or in some circumstances when the weather is unfavourable, go to local gym clubs near you.

Don’t Skip Medical Check-ups

Wherever you are traveling to, it is vital to ensure that you make sure you don’t forget to manage your health status and monitor changes. 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. 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). Such plans can allows you to seek medical care internationally and is critical for expatriates residing in less developed countries where medical care facilities are below standard. Expat women living and working abroad will benefit from an international insurance plan that will cover medical check-ups. with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation and repatriation.

Obtain International Health Insurance

The peace of mind of knowing that you and your family access to the best healthcare is very important for expatriates of any gender, including expatriate women. A tailored expatriate health insurance that meets your unique requirements is important and you should also consider life and disability coverage, especially for expat women. 

Expat Financial offers several different global health insurance plans for expatriates. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. 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

The impact of global disease outbreaks on expats and tips on prevention

With people traveling from all over the world and relocating overseas, expatriates should take extra precautions when it comes to health and safety. In the last few years, public health experts were on high alert due to rapid spread of diseases threat such as the Zika virus, Dengue fever, SARS, Ebola virus, plague and more.  In this article, we will discuss several pandemic disease threats and tips for expatriates to protect themselves from those diseases while working and living overseas.

Should Expatriates Worry About Disease Outbreaks? 

It is difficult to give a definitive answer to an expatriate’s chances of getting a disease if relocating to a regions that has reported a disease outbreak. However, if there are a lot of people have already been infected, then expatriates should pay close attention if visiting specific area or region. One should note that diseases can travel vast distances because of increased travel and mobility – it just takes a plane ride of an infected person to bring an outbreak to a new location.

According to the Public Health Watch Report, cholera, yellow fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are the potential health threat given recent pandemic report in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There have also been reports of plague disease in Madagascar, where over 20 lives have recently been lost.

Five Disease Outbreaks that Put Expats at Risk

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, and even death if untreated. Cholera is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio Cholerae in contaminated food and water. It is a serious medical problem in many parts of the world. According to the latest report on Africa News, World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), claiming that 17,000 treated in DRC.

Yellow fever was declared outbreak in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda between 2016 and 2017, according to WHO. It was transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The outbreak caused 962 confirmed cases across the three countries. Yellow fever is a disease with symptoms of fever, jaundice, muscle pain, vomiting, headache and nausea. Large outbreaks of yellow fever occur within heavily populated areas, with high mosquito density but lack of vaccination. The virus can be transmitted by infected mosquitoes from person to person.

Zika Virus has become a fairly widespread disease that have cause great concern for expatriates and locals alike. While Zika is not a new disease as it was earlier found in Africa in the 1950s, the disease that is spread by mosquitoes has spread to many regions around the world, including South America, Asia and even in the USA. In most cases those infected will not show any symptoms, but some can experience paralysis or in pregnant women, it may cause birth defects in their children. There is no vaccine at this time along with no effective treatment.

Pneumonic Plague was recently declared as an outbreak in Madagascar. The Plague is a highly infectious disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and is often found in the fleas of small mammals.  People can be infected by the flea bites or direct contact with infected persons or inhalation.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection ranges from no symptoms to severe respiratory disease and death. According to WHO, the outbreaks have occurred in several countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Korea. And no vaccine or specific treatment is currently available for MERS-CoV. It has been reported that MERS is caused by Coronaviruses, which is a large family of viruses that can cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The typical MERS symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath. The virus can pass from person to person through close contact.

Disease Outbreak Prevention Tips for Expatriates Living Abroad 

  • As a general precaution, expatriates visiting markets, farms, jungles, or other rural region with animals are present should practice high caution with hygiene, including hand washing before and after contacting animals, especially sick animals;
  • Avoid consuming raw or under cooked animal products or produce in developing countries, including unpasteurized milk or vegetables;
  • Based on infected cases reported, some people are considered to be at high risk of disease infection. Consult your doctor about your medical history before relocating abroad;
  • For diseases that haven’t been determined response priorities by health authorities, expatriates should maintain a high level of vigilance;
  • Avoid crowded areas if there is a disease outbreak
  • Avoid direct contact with animals and wild life, especially in regions where outbreaks often occur;
  • Do some research on the potential health risks in your destination country’s travel advisory page and obtain required vaccinations before departure – there’s a wealth of information from the CDC and WHO.

To ensure you and your family are protected from costly medical bills outside the home country, it is strongly recommended to obtain international medical insurance. Most medical insurance plans will include coverage for sicknesses caused by most disease outbreaks. It will be important to make sure your global medical plan includes medical evacuation coverage and will cover you for treatment outside your country of residence. 

Bring International Health Insurance with You

If you fear that you may have been exposed to an infection or virus no matter how many precautions you have taken, consult with a medical doctor as soon as possible as only your medical provider can provide definitive medical advice and treatment . Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. 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