By Chris Buscombe

PALMA
NINE out of ten expatriates would recommend a life abroad to their friends or family and three in every four say their quality of life has improved since moving to a new country.

These are just some of the findings revealed in a major new survey of expatriates conducted by BUPA International. The world's largest expat insurer polled 1'787 people living outside their home country to try and gain a unique insight into the lives of the global expat community.

When asked what they liked best about their adopted homes, more than two-thirds (68%) of expats said that their way of life had radically improved and six out of ten (60%) said the most enjoyable things was the weather. Living abroad also seems to have a positive psychological impact on expats, with 58% claiming to be more open-minded and nearly half saying that they are happier and more relaxed in their new country.

The survey's findings cannot all be said to paint a perfect picture of life abroad, however, with six in every ten expats admitting to missing their friends and family members back home and nearly half pining for particular foods typical of their homeland. Integrating abroad can also pose significant challenges, with only one in five people spending time to learn the local language of their new country, while even less venture to try the local cuisine.

Tim Slee, Head of European Sales at BUPA International, said: “Moving abroad is a huge life-changing challenge and while our survey shows it's a very successful move for most people, careful planning is essential. “This is particularly the case when it comes to health and financial security, as foreign healthcare systems can be difficult to navigate, especially if you do not speak the local language. State-subsidised healthcare for expats can also be confusing, varying enormously from one country to another.” Slee went on to applaud BUPA International's care of its expat customers, claiming that the medical insurers help relieve much of the pressure involved in moving overseas. He said: “Our expatriate customers have peace of mind from knowing that wherever they are abroad, their private medical insurance will fund not only cancer tests, drugs and consultants' fees, but also serious, costly operations- helping to alleviate the financial strain at what is often a very stressful time, particularly when the individual is outside their home country.” BUPA International's expat survey also revealed that for most people the expat life is a long-term commitment with nearly half (49%) having lived abroad already for ten years or more.

The poll went on to show that more than three-quarters of expats are married or are living with a partner (78%), while six out of ten have children (59%). When it comes to age, half of the expats interviewed were between thirty-five and fifty-five years old, with just one in five below the age of thirty-five.

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