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Tips for Staying Healthy as an Expat

Staying Healthy

Moving abroad comes with many challenges and obstacles that require lots of planning and resilience.Despite being difficult to organize, relocating to another country and becoming an ex-pat is an incredible opportunity. You won’t regret doing it, and it opens the door to a world of new possibilities you’d have missed otherwise. One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re planning and executing a move abroad is your health. Staying happy and healthy is vital to a smooth and enjoyable transition into life as an ex-pat. Below, we have covered some top tips for maintaining optimal health and well-being when you move to a foreign country and transition into life as an ex-pat.

Invest in a Great Expat Health Insurance Policy

As an ex-pat, your health is of the utmost importance, and organizing expat healthcare insurance should be at the top of your to-do list. When you move to another country, you will need health insurance coverage to access the healthcare services in your new location. Even countries with free public healthcare systems require you to have insurance to access medical check-ups and treatments when you first move there.

Staying Healthy
Credit: Jair Lazaro

With health insurance, you will be able to obtain appointments with your local doctor, obtain prescriptions and medications, and get emergency medical treatments. If you fail to get health insurance before you move, you might be denied medical care if you are ill or injured, whether your injury occurs in a hotel indoor pool, in a national park, or on public transportation.

Basic health insurance policies cover general treatments and therapies for common medical conditions and injuries. However, if you have a rare medical condition that requires ongoing specialist treatments, you will need to ensure you choose a policy that covers your unique needs. Investing in health insurance enables you to get treatment if your health declines while you’re living in another country. You can manage your chronic health conditions and resolve acute health issues quickly.

Maintain a Regular Exercise Routine

Admittedly, the process of moving to another country is physically demanding in and of itself, especially if you’re lifting heavy boxes into your new home. However, it’s easy to neglect your physical health when you’re busy moving house.

It’s important to set aside some time for exercise during the chaos of moving to another country. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day for gentle yoga or a more intense interval training workout, staying physically active will support your long-term health.

If you usually work out in a public gym, you might find it helpful to switch to home workouts temporarily until you find a great gym in your new hometown or city. Home workouts are convenient and time-saving, so you can squeeze them into your daily routine, even when you’re busy organizing your big move.

Get the Necessary Vaccinations

Different countries require you to have different vaccinations, depending on the diseases that are most prevalent locally. You will need to research which vaccinations are required in your chosen ex-pat destination and arrange to get them before you move. Make sure your general vaccinations are up to date, too. Consider scheduling a check-up with your current doctor to run through your immunization history and arrange the necessary booster injections.

Vaccinations when abroad
Credit: Steven Cornfield

Develop Healthy Stress Management Techniques

Moving countries is stressful. There’s no doubt about this, but there are ways around it. By developing healthy stress management techniques, you can keep your cortisol levels down and avoid burnout during the demanding process of relocating to another country.

Stress management looks different for everybody. Find the techniques that work best for you and enable you to ‘get into your zen’. You might find that regular yoga practice, daily deep breathing, or outdoor activities are the things that make you feel relaxed and content.

Even with daily stress management, you might still find that your stress levels remain relatively high during the transition into becoming an ex-pat. This is to be expected, and it’s likely that your cortisol levels will return to normal in the weeks following your move. Be prepared to feel a little more wound up than usual but remember that it’s temporary.

Gather a List of Essential Emergency Contacts

You never know when you might end up in an emergency situation and require help from local medical services or legal authorities. Creating a list of emergency contacts, saving them to your mobile phone, and memorizing them means you won’t need to waste time finding these numbers in the middle of a difficult situation.

You should also keep your loved one’s contact numbers in your phone in case you need to call them for support and advice in an emergency. Whilst they may be unable to physically help you due to living miles away from you, they can offer emotional support and guidance during times of adversity.

Keep Two Copies of Your Medical Records

Every country has a unique system for maintaining medical records. Therefore, the healthcare staff in your chosen ex-pat country may be unable to access any information about your current or previous medical treatments, surgeries, and medications.

The lack of cohesion between the medical record systems of different countries can make it difficult for healthcare professionals to provide the best care for your needs and may cause delays in your receiving treatments.

We recommend keeping two copies of your medical records – one digital copy and one physical copy. By keeping a digital and physical copy of your medical records, you can avoid issues and delays when accessing medical care as an ex-pat.

You will be able to get a copy of your full medical history from your registered doctor, which will include your current medications, prescriptions, and treatments, as well as your vaccination history and previous surgeries. Having this information to hand when you’re in need of quick medical treatment abroad.


 So, there you have it.  You now have a variety of top tips for staying healthy as an ex-pat as you move abroad.  Thinking about things and creating this list prior to taking the flight into another part of your life will make your transition so much easier.  And no matter where you head, always remember to Travel Till You Drop!

About Jill

Hi, Jill Here

Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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