Sunshine and a more relaxed lifestyle make living abroad more satisfying for expats – but most still have worries about their health.
Eight out of 10 expats love their new lives, but half are concerned about what will happen if they suffer a major illness or injury, according to a new survey.
Only 2% of expats were dissatisfied with living overseas.
The figures come from a study by private insurance firm Medibroker.
Nearly two-thirds of expats told researchers that they enjoyed life more because of the warmer climate. Nearly as many felt they had a better standard of living as an expat.
Other happiness factors included an improved social life, earning more money and experiences with a different culture – although many struggled with this aspect and also missed their home.
Healthcare was a major concern for 50% of expats.
Many feared local hospitals and doctors were not as good as those in the National Health Service and 45% had no private medical insurance to cover the costs of treatment.
However, the firm also revealed that 50% of expats approached for the survey had made a claim on their medical cover.
These expats tended to be satisfied with their treatment and their private medical company.
“It’s clear that most expats love their new lives in another country and that one of the most important factors is the weather,” said a spokesman for Medibroker.
Standards vary greatly
“Many expats would probably have a better outcome if they did more research about where they planned to live before leaving the UK.
“This is especially important for private health care as standards can vary greatly in different countries and few offer free treatment like the NHS.”
The firm advised that expats in Europe – where Spain has just been voted the number one expat destination by one in four of the 6 million Brits planning to retire overseas – should not rely on their European Health Insurance Card (EHICS) or travel insurance.
“These give only basic cover and expats may still have to pay and then claim a refund when they get home,” said the spokesman. “Making sure you have the right medical cover should be a top priority for expats.”
Travel insurance will only give cover in an emergency and is designed to last for just 12 months at the most, so is not a long term solution for someone with a serious illness.