Lifestyle is now top priority for expats when considering moving abroad, survey finds

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In addition, living closer to family, access to better health care and work-life balance are also key considerations.

Faced with stress and burnout, expats are now looking for a better lifestyle, flexibility and health care when considering moving and working abroad, a recent survey found. of Cigna.

With a sample of 11,922 expats worldwide, the report Burnt Out Overseas – The State of Expat Life 2022 identified several results of concern:

  • 90% of expatriates are stressed;
  • 98% experienced symptoms of burnout for not being able to disconnect from work;
  • 87% feel helpless, trapped or defeated;
  • 86% feel detached or alone;
  • 38% are worried or unsure about their financial situation.

Breaking down the results by region, almost a quarter (24%) of Hong Kong respondents rated their health and well-being as “excellent” or “very good”, but 30% rated it as “fair” or ” mediocre”, higher. than the Asia-Pacific average of 24%.

More than four in ten APAC respondents (41%) reported having “very good” or “excellent” health and wellbeing, while 71% considered themselves “stressed but manageable”.

In Singapore, 95% of Global Mobiles (GMs) reported experiencing symptoms of burnout.

Why aredid they stress?

These feelings can be attributed to a mix of lifestyle, opportunity, and work culture factors. In Hong Kong, the biggest source of stress is uncertainty about the future (40%), followed by personal finances (34%) and global politics (26%).

For current CEOs in Singapore, the top causes of stress are cost of living (36%), personal finances (29%) and overwork (29%).

Changing employee priorities

According to the study, the pandemic has caused 73% of current expats and 75% of those planning to move abroad in the next two years to spend more time reassessing their life and work priorities.

The report says lifestyle is now replacing finances as the top priority for those considering moving abroad, as people now focus more on flexibility or being close to family and friends.

For those looking to move from Hong Kong, the most cited reasons are lifestyle issues (48.5%), to be closer to family (18%) and COVID-19 restrictions (17% ). On the other hand, in Singapore, a better lifestyle is the main driver of relocation for existing expats (36%), followed by a better financial situation (32%), being closer to family (30%), a better climate (20%) and job prospects (18%).

Respondents in APAC are among those who place the highest importance on lifestyle considerations, with 41% citing this as contributing to relocation – the highest of any region. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds (69%) of APAC respondents said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that being close to family and friends is become more important to them lately.

Health care and work-life balance are also critical factors. Nearly a quarter (23%) of existing expats were considering moving to gain access to better healthcare, while more than a quarter of aspiring expats said flexible hours were essential and 16% said that they wanted to be able to work from anywhere in the world.

“The exciting, rewarding and globally mobile lifestyle that epitomized the ‘expat dream’ has changed and more and more people are now prioritizing lifestyle, family and friends when relocation planning,” said Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International Markets.

He highlighted the need for employers to rethink the expat value proposition and reassess how they structure expat assignments to meet new expat needs.

The age profiles of expats are also changing

Shifting employee priorities have also changed the age demographics of expats, with older employees now more likely to want to return or stay in their home country, while younger employees are looking for overseas moves. The survey found that only 13% of people over 50 said they wanted to move abroad, compared to 37% of people aged 18-24 and 34% of those aged 25-34.

“The last two years during the pandemic have been particularly difficult for existing and long-term expats,” said Dr. Stella George, Chief Medical Officer, Cigna International Markets. “So while many will move closer to home, many ambitious young professionals will also begin to take advantage of the opportunities overseas assignments provide, such as rapid promotion, flexible working and other incentives. These benefits are particularly attractive to people at the start of their careers.

So where do expats want to go?

According to the survey, Canada is the number one destination for current expats, with 11% wanting to settle there. Australia and the United States are tied for second place.

By region, of those likely to move from Hong Kong, 47% intend to return to their country of citizenship. The top destinations for current expats in Hong Kong who would relocate are Canada (20%), Australia (18%), Japan (12%) and Mainland China (12%).

In Singapore, 32% of GMs are likely to move in the next 24 months and 38% of them are likely to return to their home country. Among non-GMs wishing to move, the main destination countries are Australia (30%), Malaysia (20%) and New Zealand (13%).

Nearly half (47%) of current GMs in Asia Pacific are likely to move to another country within 24 months. Australia (21%) is also the first destination where they settle, followed by the United Kingdom (17%) and Canada (16%).

The vast majority of those living in Europe and Australia are confident they will stay abroad, but the same cannot be said for Asia, with just 5% of those in India and 16% of those in Mainland China confident that they will stay.

This eighth edition of the survey was conducted in May this year by Cigna International Markets in partnership with Kantar, including respondents from Australia, Belgium, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. It looked at five key elements – family, financial, physical, social and work – among expats.


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