Expat News Roundup - week 45, 2012

Posted on 06/11/2012

Tax hikes and price increases are a depressingly common thread worldwide in this week’s expat news. New property taxes in Hong Kong, increased visa application fees in Australia and a state of near-unrest in Portugal due to increasingly severe austerity measures all contribute to a rather glum outlook for many current and future expats.

There are, thankfully, some happier tales. Budget airline, Easyjet, has announced many new routes that will make world travel cheaper and easier for people in numerous destinations. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, economists claim that the country’s employment situation is stable and that there is no sign of an economic slump, despite relentless reports of job cuts in many well-known companies.

Property Tax Rises for expats in Hong Kong

The government in Hong Kong is taking measures to try to prevent an unsustainable property market bubble. This week, it announced a new 15% property purchase tax for overseas buyers.

Stamp duty is also being raised in a bid to prevent speculative property purchases – those trying to “flip” a property within six months will now have to pay 20% stamp duty.

Hong Kong is statistically the most expensive place in the world in which to rent property.

Hong Kong announces property tax for foreigners (telegraph.co.uk)

More New Routes for Easyjet

No shortage of news from Easyjet this week, with a run of announcements about new routes, some of which are sure to provide new travel options for expats.

Easyjet’s new routes include a regular flight from Gatwick to Moscow. Travellers from Gatwick will also be able to reach Kalamata (Greece) and Santiago (Spain) from 2013. These new routes mean that Easyjet will now be flying to more than 100 destinations from its Gatwick base.

Easyjet have also announced new flights from other London airports, hot on the heels of October’s news of six new routes from Edinburgh.

EasyJet launches ten new routes (easyjet.com)

Portugal’s Hard Times Continue

Expats in Portugal have little to be cheerful to about, with news this week that the dreaded 2013 budget, with its shocking tax rises, has been passed by parliament.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has stated that the progress on Portugal’s post-bailout recovery has “entered a challenging phase.” Protests outside parliament in Lisbon are becoming more heated and frequent. Local newspapers have stated that the police are nervous of violence around the forthcoming general strike, and a visit from Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.


Riot fears over Merkel visit (theportugalnews.com)

Australia Visa Fees on the Increase

Individuals planning to move to Australia may need to budget significantly more for visa application fees.

The government is proposing to make significant increases to the fees. The cost of a long-stay temporary business visa could increase to AU$455, a hike of 30%.

Even worse off will be graduates, if the changes are implemented. The cost of applying for a “skilled graduate” visa will increase to AU$1260, from a current cost of just AU$315.

Government Proposes Significant Increases to Visa Application Fees (totallyexpat.com)

Switzerland’s Employment Situation “Stable”

Expats following news in Switzerland will have become used to hearing of job cuts in recent weeks, with large numbers of redundancies announced at companies including UBS, Swisscom and Hewlett Packard.

Economists, however, seem convinced that the general employment situation in the country is stable, with new vacancies in other sectors compensating for the losses.

Residents of Switzerland will be glad that, for now at least, the country seems to be avoiding the rapidly rising unemployment afflicting many other European nations. However, this will be of little comfort to those on the redundancy lists.

Employment is stable despite downsizing wave (swissinfo.ch)