Five ways to maintain the bond with friends and family ‘back home’

Moving abroad can be daunting, especially if you’re used to regularly seeing close friends and family. It might not be as easy to drop in for a cup of coffee but with a bit of effort you can maintain and even strengthen your relationships.

Five ways to maintain the bond with friends and family 'back home'
Photo credit: Pexels

If you’re planning a long distance move, you’re probably feeling a wave of different emotions. Starting a new life is scary and exciting but it also doesn’t need to mean leaving the old one behind.

Find out how AXA’s Global Health Plans makes your move abroad much easier

Technology helps people to stay in touch despite the distance and can even act as a safety net following the move. For instance, when you take out a global health plan with AXA you can manage your international health insurance online and, with some of the plans, speak to a doctor by video. Anyone who has previously relocated will know how reassuring it can be to speak to a doctor in your own language, especially when you have children.

Perhaps best of all, technology allows you to easily keep in touch with friends and family, wherever you are in the world. So there’s no need to sit down and pen a five-page letter which takes three weeks to arrive!

Here are five ways to stay in touch with friends and family after the big move.

Video calling

There are plenty of apps which allow you to speak face to face (via video call, not teleportation). If you’re in different timezones, it can help to schedule a regular time to talk – ideally when the whole family is together and there are no tired or hungry children to contend with.

Click here to get support with your international health plan

Some of the most popular video calling apps include Skype, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp. If you’re connected to wifi the video call is totally free, otherwise you’ll be charged for the data you use. So there really is no excuse to not call your mum more often!

Send a letter

Expats no longer need to rely on snail mail to stay in touch with friends and family back home. That said, it’s still much more of an experience to send or receive letter. There’s something more personal about sitting down to read a letter someone has taken the time to write. If you have children, you could also ask them to draw pictures or write short stories to send with the letter – it’s a great way to get them to really think about the person they’re writing to.

…or a message

If you’re worried about things going missing in the post, send what you can over social media or email instead. You may already be speaking regularly by video call but so much happens throughout the day that you might want to share. Especially if you have young children! So get snap happy: take tonnes of photos and share them with friends and family on social media.

Everyday rituals

If you’ve moved abroad with your children, it’s up to you to make sure they feel connected to the people back home. Find ways to make grandparents part of your children’s everyday lives; set up a daily video call so they can read the bedtime story, tell your children stories about their family members or create a photo album that they help to organise. Distance doesn’t need to get in the way of closeness, you might just have to work a little harder.

Reconnect in person

Nothing beats a visit home but it can end up being quite tiring if you try to fit everyone in. Prioritise who you want to see and if you can, get them to come to you. Consider renting a holiday home somewhere central and inviting anyone who wants to see you to come there – it will save you driving up and down the country and tuckering the whole family out.

Find out more about AXA’s global health plans for wherever life takes you

AXA’s global health cover can help you stay in touch with friends and family, but they can protect you and your loved ones every step of the big move. Find out more about AXA’s international health insurance and tick one major relocation task off your list.

Presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

For members


How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

An European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides EU residents with access to public healthcare across the bloc. Here’s what you need to know about getting an EHIC in Austria.

How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

A big advantage of living in Europe is the ability to travel to so many different countries.

But sometimes accidents or illness can happen while on holiday or a work trip, which can mean an unplanned visit to a doctor.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Thankfully, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides some protection against expensive medical bills in the form of reciprocal healthcare. 

Here’s what you need to know about the EHIC and how to get the card in Austria.

What is an EHIC?

An EHIC is a form of medical insurance cover and replaces the international health insurance voucher (form E111). It is issued free of charge and allows holders to access state-provided medical care while temporarily in another EU country. 

It works on a reciprocal basis through a country’s social security system and care is provided at the same cost as those insured in the country (which means it can be free, in some cases).

This means that if you have an e-card and are insured with one of the public health insurances in Austria, such as ÖGK, for example, you are entitled to the EHIC and to access public health services (to a certain extent) in other countries.

FOR MEMBERS: What is Austria’s e-card and what do you need to know about it?

The EHIC is valid in all 27 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK.

However, the EHIC is not an alternative to comprehensive travel insurance as it doesn’t cover any private healthcare costs, a flight home or lost/stolen property.

Why do I need an EHIC in Austria?

The main advantage of having an EHIC is if you need medical treatment while briefly travelling in another country.

While the coverage is limited to state-provided healthcare, it does mean you will be treated by a doctor and not liable to pay non-resident medical fees.

READ NEXT: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Austria’s e-card – the national insurance card – is needed for almost all medical procedures. On the back, it contains the EHIC Ecard image: Wikicommons

How do I get an EHIC?

EHICs are issued by the national health country provider of the country where you live. This could be, for example, the ÖGK or SVA, depending on which provider you use in Austria.

In Austria, every e-card (the health insurance card that is used to visit a doctor) already contains an EHIC on the reverse of the card, so there is no need to apply for it separately. 

However, if the data fields on the EHIC on the back of your e-card contains stars (***) instead of personal information such as name and date of birth, further documentation is required to access healthcare in another EU country.

In this case, you need to contact your social security provider in Austria to receive a replacement card before you travel.

The EHIC is only valid on the condition that you are insured or co-insured in Austria.

Useful words 

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Travel insurance – Reiseversicherung

Healthcare – Gesundheitspflege

Useful links

European Commission

Austrian social insurance