Expat News Roundup - week 2, 2013

Posted on 07/01/2013

There’s plenty of positive expat news this week for anyone considering a move to South East Asia. Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia are all continuing their well-publicized efforts to attract newcomers to the region.

On a less positive note, restricted access to healthcare is the subject of two of this week’s news updates. Employers are finding that arranging healthcare provision is more difficult when they send staff to “emerging economy” countries. Meanwhile, many workers in the Middle East are reported to be without access to medical care.

Finally, there are reports that an up and coming region of Hong Kong is attracting expat residents, in advance of a new public transport link to the city center.

Hong Kong’s Kennedy Town Tempts Expats

The imminent launch of a new subway extension in Hong Kong is causing many expats to consider settling in the far West of the city, an area formerly home to industrial units and slaughterhouses.

A new subway station, due to open in 2014, will place coastal Kennedy Town within an easy eight minute journey of Hong Kong’s financial district. As a result, the previously neglected area is being developed intensively, with upscale restaurants and luxurious apartment complexes taking the place of garages and warehouses.

Population figures already reflect a rise in native English speakers in the area.


The Philippines Aim to Attract Expats

Cebu City, in the Philippines, is working hard to attract expat residents. The city, which has already been working to become a hub for foreign businesses, is now turning its attention to retirees, especially those from Japan.

Joel Mari Yu, the managing director of the Cebu Investment and Promotions Center, told the local Sun Star publication that he was keen to promote Cebu as a destination for retirement and recuperation. He highlighted the area’s medical facilities and attractive beaches.

Attracting retired expats will boost the local economy, and keep medical professionals in the country who may otherwise seek opportunities elsewhere.


Brit Expats Choose Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia

Expat initiatives in South East Asia seem to be working. The Telegraph reports this week that “thousands” of new expats have settled in the region in recent years.

Malaysia alone has welcomed 20,000 new migrants since it launched its “My Second Home” scheme in 2002.

These countries clearly recognise the economic benefits of attracting new residents who will spend money on local products and services. They have all made visa and residency processes relatively straightforward for those with money to invest.


Healthcare a Growing Problem for Expats

A steady increase in expat workers going to live in “emerging economy” countries is resulting in healthcare dilemmas for employers.

Comprehensive healthcare is relatively easy to arrange in countries with a well-established expat worker population. Things become more complicated in emerging countries like Azerbaijan and Angola, where insurers and healthcare providers have little experience and may therefore be reluctant to provide cover.

As a result, companies will need to devote more time (and probably more money) to finding effective medical cover for their expat employees.


Healthcare Also a Challenge in the Middle East

Expat healthcare has also hit the news in the news in the Gulf countries this week, with the Economic Times reporting that many expat laborers in the region, including thousands from India, are being left without healthcare.  

Governments have done much to improve access to healthcare for natives in the Middle East in recent years, but medical cover for expats is usually the responsibility of employers. While medical insurance schemes exist for expats, these are sometimes only within the financial reach of affluent companies.

In the United Arab Emirates, Indian expats from Kerala account for 25% of the population.