It’s obvious that getting vaccinated and being wary of illnesses before moving abroad is important. After all, knowing what infectious animals or contagious diseases you are likely to come into contact with in your destination country is important to know.
The problem is that many expats tend to forget the less obvious risks that can occur when moving abroad that affect anyone, regardless of where you move.
So what are the risks that go beyond malaria, the flu or finding scorpions or snakes in your backyard? We have compiled a list of specific risks for expats to prepare you for any unforeseen circumstances.
We’ve heard enough about Ebola, malaria and the yellow fever. We know exactly where there have been outbreaks, how many lives they have claimed and even how they are transmitted between one human and other. But what about the much less common illnesses that are still around? Just because they don’t take a massive amount of lives does not mean they are not a threat to locals and expats alike. Take the black plague, for example. It’s been around for centuries, yet no one mentions it.
Being aware of what other illnesses are found in your destination country in order to keep safe against them as well is important if you don’t want to end up in the hospital not knowing what you’ve got. It’s a good idea to visit a travel nurse or check the CDC website.
Food and water-borne illnesses
Seasoned travellers, or people who have been expats for a long time, tend to forget the risk of not properly washing hands, or eating street food without thinking it could cause damage to your health. Remember that, no matter where you come from, your stomach isn’t built to take everything and it’s likely to take a while to adjust to new germs, surroundings and cuisine.
If you are moving abroad with your children, it is also important to teach them about the importance of hygiene.
When natural disaster strikes…
Despite the technological advancements in our modern world, we are still vulnerable to natural disasters. Although this is probably the last thing on your mind when moving to a foreign country, especially if you have lived in a relatively safe country for the majority of your life, it’s time to face reality.
How polluted is your new home?
Unfortunately, world pollution is a serious problem and one you will encounter if you move to a big city. Often overlooked, air pollution can cause serious health problems for you and your family especially if you spend a great deal of time outdoors . It always helps to know what you can do to avoid inhaling too much polluted air.
The expat blues
Ask anyone living abroad and they will tell you that they experience the highs and lows of life that everyone experiences. Just because you are in another country does not mean you are immune to the bad days.
For some reason there is an added pressure to feel happy as an expat. You feel the need to prove to family and friends that moving abroad was the right decision and that you are having the best time, all the time. This level of happiness is exhausting to maintain, and it’s unrealistic.
When you’re support network are so far away, it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated from everyone. Don’t underestimate how overwhelming it can be. As important as it is to be aware of these issues in order to keep the blues at bay, it is also important not to be too hard on yourself. If you need support, it’s in your hands to ask for it.
Ensuring your safety in a medical emergency
When it comes to your health care, there is no point putting your life at risk in any way. Living in another country is not a holiday, therefore you need to be sensible and find out the best health care option for you, whether you plan to use the public healthcare services or take out health insurance tailored to the expat lifestyle.
You should also decide what you and your family will do if a medical emergency does occur. You may end up including repatriation coverage in your health insurance policy if you decide that you would prefer to be treated at home; despite the additional costs, this option is always preferable than paying with your life.