Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Despite pandemic, expats are generally confident to continue their way of life in Singapore, UAE, and more

Despite pandemic, expats are generally confident to continue their way of life in Singapore, UAE, and more

Expats consider work-life balance one factor for moving abroad. Another would be family health and wellbeing benefits – more than the financial package or the host country, a survey has noted.

In Aetna International’s latest survey, it reached out to expats in Singapore, Germany, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Mexico to hear their sentiments about their way of life, in relation to the pandemic. Of these, over two-thirds of expats remain confident about living and working abroad.

According to the survey results, 75% of expats shared that they are still “very confident” or “fairly confident” about continuing their way of life – regardless of whether COVID-19 social restrictions and isolation are involved when travelling to and fro another country, or when living there for that matter.

Further, the more confident expats are in Singapore (88%) and UAE (87%); with those in Mexico and Germany coming behind respectively at 70% and 64%.

Such confidence, in fact, comes from how the pandemic is handled and addressed by the country they are working in – which the survey classifies as “perceived safety”. Results revealed that although 54% of expats returned to their home country due to the pandemic, a smaller percentage of expats left the four aforementioned countries; much fewer especially among those in Singapore and UAE.


Putting the pandemic situation aside, it was revealed in the survey that workers, in general, choose to become an expat and move abroad because they want to “improve their work-life balance and adopt a healthier lifestyle.”

“Due to the pandemic, considerations around wellbeing have become even more of a focus, allowing existing expats to further enhance their lifestyle,” the survey noted.

It was also found that expats have successfully improved their health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the following ways:

  • 60% are eating more healthily;
  • 27% are drinking less alcohol, and
  • 43% are exercising more

Drawing reference from its previous survey, Expat Experiences Survey 2020, Aetna reported that expats feel happy (43.7%), safe (42.2%) and welcomed (37.1%) while living abroad; and see locals as friendly (49.4%) and welcoming (42.5%).

These positive emotions are present – even when the pandemic was at its peak.

“The combination of feeling happy and safe while living abroad, along with improved health and lifestyle, has contributed to the feeling of confidence - with 75% of those surveyed saying they were confident in their decision to continue living as an expat,” the survey explained.

Related newsAsia cities dominate the top 10 ranking of the most expensive cities for expats


Be that as it may, the survey highlighted an interesting point - that 87% of expats prioritise family health and wellbeing benefits most when considering a job opportunity abroad – 2% higher than the financial package (85%) or the host country (85%).

“Protection of both family and individual health is a key consideration for employees.

“By acknowledging this and adapting to support these expectations with revised employee packages, that extend to protecting the health of their family, businesses can reassure expats that their families will have support available if it is needed,” the survey added.

Image / 123RF

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window