The biggest challenges of global mobility

  • Business woman
Published last year

For the three-quarter of those who have chosen to move overseas for better prospects, healthcare, education, and well-being, global mobility seems to be a good thing. But does moving abroad mean that your life will be a cinch? The 2017 Cigna 360 ° Well-being Survey gives an insight into the main concerns of people living abroad.

Personal health and well-being


Personal health depends on the various individual, professional, and macroeconomic criteria. According to the global health index, expatriates are more likely to enjoy a better personal health in their home country than abroad. For those moving abroad with their family, health, education, and overall well-being are the key concerns. There's a difference of 9.4 points only between the perception of well-being by expats and those who are in their home country. Well-being also takes into account the amount of family time spent as well as family support. The overall expats' well-being score is therefore 1.8 points lower than that of people living in their home country.

Your employer's contribution

Employers are required to make sure their foreign employees have the appropriate insurance coverage to guarantee not only access to better healthcare services but also their overall well-being abroad. But is this the case? While more than 53% of the expats believe a health insurance is essential during their stay overseas, 40% of them have received no support in this regard from their employer. Also, 15% of them have no medical insurance coverage at all – which is especially the case in African countries – increasing pressure both on companies and NGOs.

Access to healthcare abroad


If you ever happen to get ill abroad, would you rather go back home or seek healthcare services in your home country? It goes without saying that access to healthcare remains one of the main concerns of expatriates worldwide. The fear of accidents or diseases such as cancer is usually highlighted. In general, 25% of people living abroad worry about risks of accidents, mental illnesses, as well as complications relating to alcohol consumption.

You will perhaps be surprised to learn that nearly half of those living abroad would choose to go back to their home country for treatment in case of a severe illness. Of course, the numbers are likely to vary from one country to another. For 26% of the expatriates in Europe and the USA who prefer to remain in their host country for treatment, the cost and quality of healthcare are their biggest concern. Precisely, 92% of expats in the USA argue that the high cost of healthcare in the country is a serious issue.

Expats living in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East would rather move back to their home country not only due to the high costs of healthcare in their host country but also for being close to their family and friends.

Loneliness abroad

Moving abroad often means saying goodbye to your friends and family. You're obviously going to feel lonely at some point in time, but you have to keep calm because there are ways to expand your social network. One in five expats admits suffering from loneliness abroad – with most of them being single or having moved overseas alone. Most of them agree that it's not easy to adapt to their new environment on their own and to make new friends outside of work.

Job security

Job security

Have you ever wondered about your job security abroad? What might seem insignificant to you at first is a great concern for one in five expats, most of whom wish to stay permanently in their host country. In the USA, for instance, more than half of expatriates having stayed there for over over years and 64% of the total number of foreign professionals are looking to become permanent residents in their host country. In case they lose their job, they will most likely have to leave the country.

Safety and security

Political turmoil, changes in migration policies, economic instability, and public health issues have led expats to worry more about their safety and security abroad. One-third of expats now feel less safe in their host country than they were two years ago. Forty-two percent of expats in the USA feel more uncertain about their safety and security since Donald Trump's election in November 2016, and 31% of those in Africa live in fear due to political instability.