How do expats adapt to a new climate?

Published 2019-10-01 12:27

Climate is often a decisive factor when it comes to choosing an expatriation destination. Who would not want to move to a sunny, tropical island? Circumstances, however, often mean that you are most likely to end up in a country with harsher weather conditions than that. Here are some tips for choosing your destination and preparing for your new life.

The different factors to take into account

Countries differ in how they deal with their climate either mild or harsh. In the West, for example, it is easy to equip with efficient air conditioners and radiators. On the other hand, in some developing countries, these may be difficult to find. In other countries, it is common to experience power cuts. You may be deprived of fresh air or heating for a few hours.

Before settling in a new country, one of the first reflexes is to check the weather (...especially if you’re English!). In addition to the temperature and the different seasons, it is also important to take into account the humidity, the wind force and the presence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes or winter storms. For example, the cities of Dubai and Ho Chi Minh have an average annual temperature roughly equivalent, although there is much more rainfall in Vietnam than in the United Arab Emirates.

In cold countries, the quality of snow removal services must be taken into account. In countries prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, one should focus on the responsiveness of relief and public infrastructure. Even within the same country, there may be disparities between regions and cities.

Weather-sensitive, are you?

Some people are more sensitive to weather than others. This is the case for young children, pregnant women and the elderly, but also people who suffer from certain health conditions such as asthma, hypertension, pollen allergy or rheumatism. Nevertheless, in reality, we would all be more or less weather-sensitive.

Quebec-based bio-meteorologist Gilles Brien explains that several studies have demonstrated the impact of the weather on certain elements such as violence or the suicide rate. "People do not kill themselves more because of the lousy weather that goes on, but rather because of some abnormal atmospheric patterns. These situations would trigger internal physiological and psychological processes leading to suicidal ideation," he wrote on his blog.

Hot or cold: what to choose and how to survive?

According to the GEO travel magazine, the world's hottest destinations are in Tunisia, Mali, the United States, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Ethiopia and Israel. Conversely, according to the Meteomedia website, the five coldest cities in the world are in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Russia and Finland. Of course, in each of these countries, some regions are more liveable than others: for example, no one will decide to settle in the middle of the Death Valley!

Whether you are hot or cold, both situations have several advantages and disadvantages. Studies have confirmed that cold stimulates the immune system, while heat tends to weaken it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to generalize: for example, people who have osteoarthritis feel much better in a country with a hot and dry climate. In addition, living in a warm country would be better for the mood, especially as these countries have a higher brightness. The exposure to the sun would, indeed, several benefits such as the strengthening of the bones, the regulation of our internal clock and the improvement of general morale.

The good news is that the human body is full of resources. With a little patience, we can get used to everything! In an article in the Journal de Montreal, Gilles Brien writes, for example, that a Quebecer who arrives in a tropical country in winter will need 48 hours to acclimatize and regain his appetite, while a person from a warm country who settles in Quebec in winter will need three to four weeks to get his body used to cold weather and regulate his metabolism.

At first, of course, it's better not to play with fire. When you settle in a cold country, you must think of bringing with you adequate equipment such as a proper coat, gloves, a hat and boots stuffed and waterproof. Conversely, in a warm country, you will avoid trekking for hours in the first days or jogging in full sun. In both cases, hot or cold, it is important to hydrate well.