The 3 Biggest Health Risks When Living As An Expat

Living as an expat can be a rewarding and exciting experience, as it allows you to live in a new country and culture and often provides new opportunities for personal and professional growth.

However, it can also be challenging, as you may be far from your friends and family and need to adjust to a new way of life. One of the biggest challenges is staying healthy.

Your health can take a hit when you live in another country for various reasons. There is stress that takes its toll on your immune system as well as other external factors.

The diet, your exercise routine, and even random events can jeopardize your health. In this article, we will go over the essentials to make sure that you stay healthy while living abroad. 

5 Common Health issues experienced by expats in Singapore – The Healthy Expats Ep.22

Poor local healthcare systems

Poor local healthcare systems

As an expat, it is important to have a good health insurance plan to ensure that you have access to quality medical care while living abroad.

Some countries require you to have private coverage to be able to qualify for a visa. Although many countries offer a public healthcare system, you aren’t likely to be able to enroll for quite some time. 

Check to see if the plan has a network of providers in the country where you will be living. It is often more cost-effective to use providers within the network.

It’s important when choosing global health insurance that the company has coverage in the country where you will live as most companies don’t offer universal coverage in every country. 

Consider the cost of the plan, including premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Compare the costs of different plans to find the best fit for your budget. ​​

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure the plan covers treatment for it. Some plans have exclusions or limitations on coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Consider a plan that includes evacuation coverage in case you need to be transported to a different location for medical treatment.

This is especially important to have if you plan on living in a developing country with poor healthcare infrastructure. 

Unsafe food and water

Unsafe food and water

Most countries are safe when it comes to drinking the local water and eating the local foods. In some cases, you may end up with indigestion simply because your body isn’t used to the new diet.

However, in other countries, it is dangerous to drink water, and eating the wrong food can make you very ill. 

In many countries, tap water is not safe to drink. To avoid illness, stick to bottled water for drinking, brushing your teeth, and making ice.

Be cautious of raw fruits and vegetables if you are in a country where the water may not be safe to wash them with.

While street food can be a delicious and inexpensive way to try local cuisine, it can also be a source of food poisoning.

Look for vendors who are using clean utensils and cooking equipment, and be wary of food that has been sitting out in the heat. ​​

To reduce your risk of food poisoning, opt for foods that are cooked and served hot. Avoid raw or undercooked meats.

Mental health issues as an expat

Mental health issues as an expat

By taking care of your mental health, you can help ensure that you can fully enjoy your experiences as an expat. It will also keep you physically healthy since stress plays a big role in your overall health. 

Being away from your friends and family can be isolating, so it is important to make an effort to connect with others in your new community.

Join local clubs or organizations, volunteer, or find an expat group to meet and socialize with. Make time for activities that nourish your mind and body, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. These activities can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Being away from your friends and family can be isolating, so it is essential to make an effort to connect with others in your new community.

Join local clubs or organizations, volunteer, or find an expat group to meet and socialize with. Maintaining connections with your friends and family back home can provide a sense of support and familiarity.

Use video calls, social media, and other forms of communication to stay in touch with loved ones.


Since it is a challenge to be an expat even on a good day, it is important to not let your health get in the way of enjoying the experience to the fullest.

Although random events such as spider bites and car accidents are uncommon, there are several health risks that you should be aware of when living as an expat. 

Be sure to have a good health insurance plan, stay away from unsafe food and water, and take care of your mental health to ensure that your time abroad is as safe and enjoyable as possible. 

Taking care of your health should be your biggest priority as an expat to reduce stress. When you are healthy, you can focus on growing as a person in your new surroundings.