Around 75% of expats to continue living abroad post-pandemic, survey finds

Around 87% of those surveyed in the UAE felt confident in maintaining their expat status

Around 75 per cent of expats living in the UAE, Singapore, Germany and Mexico are likely to continue living in their host countries in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey by international health insurer Aetna has found.

The study, conducted from May 8-16, surveyed 1,000 expats living in the four countries, which were affected by the pandemic in varying degrees.

Expats living in countries where deaths attributed to Covid-19 were low reported greater satisfaction with their living situation in the host nations.

Around 87 per cent of those surveyed in the UAE felt confident in maintaining their expat status, while the figure was 88 per cent in Singapore.

In both countries, Covid19-related deaths per million population remain low. The UAE recorded 194 deaths per 1 million, while the figure was only six in Singapore as of Friday, according to Worldometer, which tracks the pandemic.

Expats living in Germany and Mexico, which were more adversely affected by Covid-19, were less confident. Around 69 per cent of expats in Germany were confident about maintaining their expat status, while 70 per cent in Mexico felt the same.

In both countries, deaths per 1 million of the population were comparatively higher at 1,096 for Germany and 1,841 for Mexico.

Germany has struggled with Covid-19 with vaccination efforts off to a slow start in comparison with countries such as the UAE, were inoculation drives were more robust.

“In what has been a difficult and uncertain time, confidence is key. Especially for those planning and trying to build a life in another country," said Damian Lenihan, executive director of Europe at Aetna International.

"Returning to some sort of ‘normality’ is what everyone is hoping for but feeling safe with access to quality health care is paramount to this becoming a reality. Wherever we are in the world," he added.

A key deciding factor for expats considering whether to move or stay is the quality of healthcare and insurance provided by their host countries.

The Aetna survey found that 70 per cent of expats cited access to quality healthcare as a key concern during the pandemic.

Around 38 per cent of those surveyed said they were concerned enough to consider moving back to their home countries in order to have access to better health care.

Around 32 per cent remained concerned about quality of healthcare but did not consider moving home as a consequence.

In spite of international travel restrictions, around 54 per cent of those surveyed moved back to their home countries temporarily during the pandemic. Most of those were from countries where the pandemic had a bigger impact. Around 65 per cent of expats surveyed in Germany, which has over 3.7 million cases returned home at some point during the pandemic.

The figure was 67 per cent for those living Mexico, which has a total case count of over 2.8 million.

In comparison, only 37 per cent and 34 per cent of expats living in Singapore and UAE, respectively returned to their home countries during the pandemic. The total case counts in Singapore and the UAE are 64,861 and 679,321, respectively as of Friday, according to Worldometer.

Updated: July 31st 2021, 9:34 AM
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