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How Has Living Abroad Improved Your Life?

According to many different studies and surveys that have been undertaken over the years, spending time overseas living, working or in retirement can improve everything from your creativity to your integration ability.  So, we thought we’d ask Expatra readers how living abroad has improved their lives.

We contacted a handful of readers just before Christmas and invited them to get in touch with us with their tales of how living abroad has made a positive difference to their lives.  We were hoping for some inspiring tales that we could share with would-be expats, and we haven’t been disappointed.

The results of our survey are in, and they show that 100% of our 220 surveyed readers have seen an improvement in at least one area of their life since moving abroad.  We surveyed professionals working overseas on assignment, people who have established a permanent move abroad, as well as those who have retired to another country, to get as broad a perspective as possible – and so if you’re planning a relocation, the good news is, it’s highly likely you will benefit at least in some small way from emigration.

We directly asked all 220 respondents to tell us whether they had seen an improvement in any aspect of their life since relocating abroad, and we received a 100% positive response to this question.  From enjoying better weather to better health, from enjoying improved working conditions to having more time to spend on leisure pursuits or with the family, all of our surveyed readers have seen at least one area of their life get better now that they have expatriated.

Unsurprisingly, every single expat who responded from a Mediterranean or a Middle Eastern country cited the fact that they have seen an improvement in the weather!  It seems that permanently blue skies don’t actually bore you after all!

Perhaps more surprisingly were the 15 retirees who stated that since moving abroad they have seen an improvement in their health.  3 cited better weather as being directly related to this fact, 5 hinted that their lives were less hectic now – and so we assume this has perhaps had a positive effect on their wellbeing – and 2 people (both retired to Cyprus) said that they had access to better healthcare services compared to when they lived in the UK.

Of those of working age who were living abroad, 37% stated that they now enjoy improved working conditions, whilst only 24% mentioned more money having improved their lives.  Interestingly no one stated that they had seen an improvement in their life as a result of moving to a low tax country – but we did have 47 respondents state that they were enjoying a lower cost of living overseas.

However, it’s not all good news I’m afraid – whilst we didn’t specifically ask respondents to tell us which areas of their lives have deteriorated or changed for the worst, a handful of those who took the time to respond to us have shared the less positive aspects of their move.

For example, one couple living in Australia cited the fact that they miss their extended families back in the UK.  Even though this couple stated that they wouldn’t change their life because they have seen so many elements of it improve, (they cited schooling for their children, employment prospects, work/life balance and weather as being specific areas that have improved), they wanted it noted that the move had also been hard on them at times.

Other less positive comments we received related to language and cultural barriers to integration making elements of life more difficult for example, but overall, as stated, all 220 respondents cited at least one aspect of their life that has seen improvement since emigration and expatriation.

We feel that these findings accurately represent the experiences of the majority of expats – i.e., a move abroad can indeed change your life for the better.  However, it’s not a move to be entered into on a whim because it can be challenging.  The grass is never greener, it’s just different – and some of the differences you encounter can indeed enhance and improve your life, but other aspects of your new life abroad may not be perfect.

Be realistic about your move and stay focused on the positive aspects of your new life if you want to succeed…

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