Expatriates find better quality outside of the UK

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Despite what Victoria Beckham may think, Spain has come out on top in a poll of people living and working abroad. Research carried out by BUPA International found that nine out of 10 expats they questioned claimed that their quality of life is better, or very much better, in Spain than in their home country.

BUPA International insures over a million people who live and work abroad and set up the web-based research to find out what their members really think of their expatriate assignments. Questions looked at what is living or working in another country really like? Do expats miss the sport scene of their home land more than friends and family, and how much of a concern is the language barrier?

Nearly all the expatriates, particularly those from the UK, consider their quality of life to be better, or very much better, since moving to their new country. According to the research, BUPA International members report that life is better, or very much better, in Spain. People also rated the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Africa, Italy and Australia very highly with four out of five people very much enjoying their time there.

When asked what they liked best about their new country of residence, nearly half agreed that it was the way of life that they liked the most, as well as citing the climate, the people and the scenery. The Netherlands was the highest scoring country for way of life with nearly three quarters of those living there agreeing that they like the way of life the best. Again the UAE and Australia also scored highly in this category.

BUPA International also asked what concerned people before they moved overseas. Sixty five percent of respondents’ main concern was the standard of health facilities such as the hospitals and doctors in their new country of residence. Over a third expressed concerns over standards of accommodation. While nearly a fifth of respondents felt that political risks associated with their new country of residence were an important consideration. Any potential language barriers only bothered about a quarter of those questioned, and access to good schools was not surprisingly, only a worry to the 22 percent who were travelling with school age children.

Overall, respondents missed their family (68 percent) and friends (60 percent) most from their home country. Expats are clearly a cultured group with nearly a third of respondents saying that they miss the arts and entertainment scene. Interestingly, expatriates from the UK were more likely to miss arts and entertainment than respondents from other countries.

A quarter said that they missed the shops and their native cuisine but many also pined for their national sense of humour and the scenery of their home country. Sport and the weather are neck and neck in the most missed elements of the home country, both attracted 15 percent of respondents citing them.

Paula Covey, head of marketing for BUPA International said: "The results of this research are very useful to keep abreast of some of the emotional and cultural issues, and anxieties of our expatriate members spread over 180 countries around the world. Despite the increasingly transient nature of the world’s workforce, it is important to be mindful that there is no such thing as a typical expat. Individuals have a different sense of belonging whether it be to their home or host country."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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