Posted on 11/01/2013
Some folks move to a
new country in order to be with a spouse in the land of his or her
birth. That’s understandable because, if you can afford it (or have
a steady income from somewhere), it’s a great opportunity to
experience a different part of the world. And the best part is that
you’re being escorted by someone who cares for your well-being –we
hope. (Just kidding). But there are those who would care to do some
business in that foreign land, as well. I don’t intend on handing
out specific business advice here. But there are a few principles
that you can observe that may make your life a lot easier, if you
believe that “business is your thing”.
First of all, unless you’re a successful business person already, you will be in for quite a few surprises should you attempt to do business in a foreign country. In reality, that may also hold true if you are a successful business person. Things are remarkably different from one culture to the next. So, here are some items that you will need to consider, in just about any culture:
In any business venture, never assume that you know anything about that business as it pertains to a foreign environment. This means that if you know how to run a successful restaurant in the U.S., that knowledge may not translate into your new surroundings. Approach business as if you are a newbie.
Gather up as much reading material associated with business, in your future home, as possible and take the time to study it. Make it your hobby to learn about those things before you try to make it your livelihood.
Remember this hugely important fact – rules are made by people who can either obey them or alter them at will. If it is in the mindset of a culture to block the business venture of a foreigner, then that’s what will happen. No matter what pieces of paper detailing “regulations” you happen to have sticking out of your pocket. But don’t despair – because there’s good news.
Since the world of business is controlled by people (as opposed to androids), it’s possible to skirt past many of the anticipated obstacles. In some cases, your spouse might be able to assist with that. I knew of one case where an expat was assisted to a bizarre degree by the local government, because they wanted his wife to be comfortable and the guy had proven himself to be a good husband. This, of course, is not always the case – just food for thought.
Posted on 09/01/2013
One of the more difficult
adaptations that an expat may encounter has to do with unfamiliar
food. The reason for this is relatively simple. As we’re growing
up, there are several things that we learn to take comfort in. It
might be a favorite stuffed toy at bedtime, the sound of a
caretaker’s voice or even a favorite television show. But ranking
high on the list is our favorite food. When you keep hearing that a
fine restaurant may be good, but it doesn’t compare to the “home
cooking from mom”, the quality of the food has little or nothing to
do with it (unless mom is a gourmet chef). It’s the psychological
comfort that the food (and surroundings) impart.
This, of course, is something that extends into our adolescent and adult years. The places, where we live, each has its own regional specialties that we associate with “home”. This all can change when we become expats. When you consider how difficult it is to make adjustments, later in our lives, you can see why adapting to a new cuisine can be rather difficult. Especially if you are going to live in another part of the world that has a completely different set of taste buds (or so it appears). For example, going from the United States to Canada is not such a big leap. But moving from the United States to China is a different story altogether.
In western cultures, caviar is considered a delicacy. In the Philippines, balut is considered a delicacy. For the uninitiated, “balut” is a fertilized duck egg with an almost complete duck fetus inside – feathers, beak and all the rest. In Japan, soups made with extra large cockroaches may be served to a guest of honor. Fortunately, most folks in foreign countries understand what is and what is not appealing to outsiders. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to get you “initiated” to their form of specialty foods. In my time in the Philippines, I have eaten six balut and I remember each one of them, even though I “had a few (the local rum)” during each occasion. I expect that number seven will elude me till the end of my days. Hopefully.
The best way for most of us to adapt to a different type of food is to isolate what foods are actually our “comfort foods” and find a way to secure them. Me, I’m fortunate enough to live near a large city and a couple of duty free supermarkets. In any case, as you’re adapting to the new cuisine, you may wish to consider not making a 100% change all at once. This will allow you to discover what... (keep reading)
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
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 a... (keep reading)
Posted on 03/01/2013
Saudi Arabia is in the expat news again
this week, with proposed new employment laws set to improve working
arrangements and reduce working hours for expats. Meanwhile, there
are reports that the country’s housing market is struggling to meet
demand from foreign workers.
The UAE Central Bank’s mortgage cap has also made the headlines, with expats now needing to find 50 percent of a property’s value themselves before they can buy.
India has been in focus as well, as its
expanding economy attracts its own nationals home from their work
overseas, as well as expats from Europe and the US seeking to flee
their own struggling economies.
Expat working hours likely to reduce in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi government has proposed plans to reduce working hours at private firms to 40 hours per week, in a move that may attract even greater numbers of expat workers to the area.
The reduction from 48 to 40 working hours per week would effectively mean a 30 percent salary increase for expats, according to the head of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s manpower committee, Mansour Al-Shatri.
Al-Shatri has opposed the government’s proposal, which he believes will deny private sector work to Saudi nationals.
The proposed plans would also provide expats with further stability, by requiring them to give written assent prior to any move away from their original employment location.http://arabnews.com/private-sector-2-day-weekend-%E2%80%98will-raise-expat-salary-30%E2%80%99
Expat demands lead to predicted housing boom in Saudi Arabia
The continual arrival of expat workers in Saudi Arabia has driven a sharp rise in the price of rental accommodation. Demand is high, and some newcomers are struggling to find suitable premises.
The Telegraph reports that Westerners’ preference for compound-style living accommodation, which provides some relief from the country’s strict Islamic laws, is predicted to drive a rise of 50 percent in this type of development by 2015.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/expat-money/9765216/Expat-housing-shortage-in-Saudi-Arabia.html
UAE Central Bank’s mortgage cap set to impact negatively on expats
Expats looking to buy property in the UAE will now have to put down 50 percent of the property’s value as a deposit, after the UAE Central Bank directed the country’s banks to cap expat mortgages.
The move is aimed at restoring stability to the fragile banking sector by reducing the aggressive len... (keep reading)
Posted on 26/12/2012
You may be easily fooled by pricing customs
If you come from a country that primarily deals in retail outlets, supermarkets and shopping malls, then the concept of “pricing” is a relatively obvious affair. For example, you don’t walk into a supermarket, grab a can of string beans and then ask the person at the checkout counter, “What can you do on the price?” That type of question will only get you the type of look meant for those who have somehow made their way outside the grounds of the local mental institution. But this isn’t always the case. Sure, you can visit a flea market and haggle to your heart’s content and usually get some decent bargains. But the computer shop, in the mall, can only work within the salesperson’s commission. So, you might be able to secure a free printer to go along with the expensive PC that you’re purchasing.But that’s about it.
But here’s something interesting, the same concepts that got you the free printer may actually work to an even greater degree in the country that you’re going to visit. But the last thing that a shop owner wants you to realize is that haggling may be an integral part of their business procedures. If you’re shopping in a different country, and you are perceived to be a foreigner, the first thing that the seller wants to do is to get you to think that the prices are set in stone. This tactic actually cost me a bunch of money when I initially tried to do some shopping on my own in my new expat environment. And forget about taxis. There was no way I was going to get an honest rate when travelling without my wife, local friend or relative.
How to deal with shopping in places that you’re unfamiliar with
Here are a few tips from lessons that I learned the hard way. First of all, if you’re going to explore some territory on your own for the first time – stay close to home. In addition, find out from a trusted local source as to what you’ll be expecting to pay for transportation. Before you get into a taxi, or any other means of transportation, that isn’t strictly regulated (trains, buses, etc.), get the driver to agree with you on a quote – and stick with it (no extra “fees”).
If you’re in a marketplace, stand around and look at the merchandise for a bit. This will give you the opportunity to view a transaction or two performed by some of the locals. When you have ascertained the amount that people are expected to pay, then get what you want and hand the seller the exact chan... (keep reading)