5 challenges that every new expat faces

Contributed by Cigna Global, 24 May, 2017

5 challenges that every new expat faces

You've travelled thousands of miles; the bags are unpacked and you may even have already started your new job. Yet in many ways, your journey as an expat is just beginning.

International healthcare insurance experts, Cigna Global have plenty of experience in helping expats to settle in. So, courtesy of Cigna, here's what to expect in the way of challenges – and how to overcome them.

Loss of support network

Sometimes we're looking for advice; at other times we just need a sounding board for a satisfying rant. In times of disruption or upheaval, the natural response for most of us is to turn to our closest friends and family. But, of course, in the list of significant life changes, there's no denying that relocation abroad comes at or close to the top; yet moving away means not having this support network around the corner.

Two strategies can help you deal with this. Firstly, prioritise getting an internet connection as soon as possible after arrival; that way, you can get into the habit of Skyping your nearest and dearest right from the beginning. Second, while video calling is great, don't underestimate the value of face-to-face contact. Look for support networks in your destination (ideally before you arrive); something that can be especially valuable for "trailing spouses" and retirees who don't have work colleagues to turn to.


From making friends at work or at the school gates, through to trying to explain your problem to a GP receptionist, language can be the number one barrier to an easy transition.

But there is good news on this front; the more you immerse yourself in the language, the easier it becomes. Armed with an app such as iTranslate for iPhone or Google translate to call upon if you get into difficulty, the most effective way of overcoming the barrier is often simply to get out there and hone your skills through everyday interaction. At the same time, consider getting a valuable head start through a language school course before you arrive.


If you are moving for work purposes and are lucky enough to be able to negotiate a relocation package, be sure to do your research before you agree to a sum. What's on the table might seem generous – but is perhaps less so, once you factor in market rents, travel and all other essentials.

Draw up a spreadsheet before you arrive. On it, list all items of expenditure you are likely to incur, along with costings. This should help to tell you what level of income you will need to achieve to meet your desired standard of living.

Culture shock

You already know that negotiating a business deal in the U.S. and in Japan can involve very different experiences. Likewise, you will appreciate that the options for an evening's entertainment are going to look very different in U.A.E. compared to what you are used to in somewhere like London.

Did you know, that for U.S. expats, the country with one of the highest instances of unsuccessful relocations is actually the UK? The big changes you can see coming – and you can prepare for them. But it's often the “little differences” that can catch you off guard. This sometimes means that new arrivals experience as much of a culture shock when moving somewhere that is culturally very similar than to a location that might be regarded as quite alien.

The lesson is to assume that there are going to be differences – no matter what culture you are moving to. This infographic will help you prepare for some of the different workplace customs around the world.

Health and wellbeing

Adjusting to different ways of doing things and living new experiences: this is all part of the adventure of moving abroad. But if there's one area where you can't afford to take chances and "see what happens', it's your health; something that's especially true if the whole family are moving. This helps to explain why so many expats opt for International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI).

Even if you are moving to a country with relatively strong public health provision, accessing health services can be problematic. For one thing, as an expat, there may be restrictions on what you are entitled to and it can be hard going to make sense of the rules. What's more, depending on the country – not to mention where in that country you will be based – the standard of public health services might fall short of what you are used to. The right IPMI cover can help you to access the best services that country has to offer in a hassle-free way.

Thanks to a welcome level of flexibility, IPMI from Cigna Global can also be ideal for filling in any gaps that might be present in your existing work or personal health cover – especially when it comes to children, maternity care and dental treatment.

To find out more about how IPMI can ease your transition to foreign shores, and for a quote, visit Cigna Global today.

Tags: business | Insurance | Japan | court | services | public health | insurance | internet |



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