Expat News Roundup - week 52, 2012

Posted on 23/12/2012

As is often the case, employment is a common theme throughout much of this week’s expat news.

There are challenges ahead for expats in China, where local competition is making the job market more challenging. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the new labour laws continue to attract controversy, with the labour minister’s views seemingly at odds with the country’s policies.

Some possible difficulties ahead for those in Dubai this week too, with news of school closures likely to directly affect expats.

Finally, over in Europe, more people will have an opportunity to try the cuisine of Iraq, as a result of the country’s growing expat population.

Expats in China Face Increased Competition for Jobs

The Telegraph reports this week that expats in China are becoming increasingly “squeezed out” of the employment market by native executives. 

Chinese natives who have worked abroad themselves are typically bilingual, and have good experience and first-hand cultural knowledge.

Aside from the high caliber of local candidates, expats are now considered expensive to employ, as companies are required to make considerable social security contributions for their expat employees.

While plenty of opportunities still exist, expats wishing to compete must redouble their efforts to learn about local language and culture.


New Cuisine in the UK due to Growing Iraqi Expat Community

Iraqi cuisine is beginning to arrive in the UK, thanks to the growing Iraqi expat community.

There are now more than half a million Iraqi expats living in the UK, and around five million across the world, with Belgium and Germany also being popular destinations.

The Masgouf restaurant now has two branches in London - in Knightsbridge and Paddington. Up to 40-percent of patrons are non-Arabs, but the chef comments that some potential diners are deterred by an absence of alcoholic drinks, which are not available in the restaurants for religious reasons.


Good Expat Opportunities Still Exist in Emerging Markets

A survey of international human resources professionals has revealed that the market for expat executives in emerging economies is still strong.

While some typically strong expat job markets in the Middle and Far East come under pressure from local talent, companies moving into countrie... (keep reading)


Expat News Roundup - week 51, 2012

Posted on 17/12/2012

There’s no shortage of employment-related expat news this week - some good and some less so.

Starting with the bad news, job opportunities are likely to be more scare in Russia in the coming year due to quota changes. Meanwhile, the controversial new expat labor laws in Saudi Arabia may result in reduced income for expat employees, as companies try to pass on their extra costs.

Good employment news comes from Canada this week, with the announcement of a new residency initiative to attract skilled expats.

Finally, we have interesting information to report as a result of two recent expat surveys: one concentrating on investments, and another on the life of expats in the USA.

Expats Continue to Favor Traditional Investments

UK newspaper The Telegraph reports this week that expats continue to concentrate on traditional investments such as property and shares. “Alternative” investments such as antiques and fine art are only of interest to 13-percent of individuals.

The figures come from a recent survey of “Internationally Mobile Wealthy Individuals.” These are expats with investible assets in excess of $1 million.

Amongst an array of interesting findings, the report discovered that real estate investment is far more popular in Asia than in the US and Europe, and that wealthy expats residing in Singapore and the UK often have three or more personal properties.


Canada Aiming to Attract Skilled Individuals

Prospective expats considering Canada as a potential destination will be pleased to hear of a relaxation to immigration rules, due to a shortage of skilled tradespeople.

From January 2013, there will be a new permanent residency initiative aimed at tradespeople, including welders, electricians and mechanics.

The Canadian authorities plan to grant permanent residency to 3000 new expats in the first year alone. Qualification requirements include the need for a confirmed job offer in Canada or competency certificate, and a minimum of two years relevant experience.


New Saudi Expat Law Still Under Fire

The new expat labor laws in Saudi Arabia continue to attract controversy.

Recently introduced laws are intended to reduce unemployment amongst natives by financially penalizing

... (keep reading)


A tale of two (stereotypical) expats

Posted on 17/12/2012

In many countries, there is a rigid order within society when it comes to its’ hierarchy. In other words, “Where do you sit on the social scale?” In some areas, expats are not considered that special and can be a “statistical anomaly”. This is particularly true if you’re not wealthy. Wealthy people, it seems, have a culture all their own, no matter where they come from. The “culture” basically says, “I have money. Give me what I want and I will pay you.” Pretty simple. A rich person in one country will tend to get along with a rich person from somewhere else, even though in truth they’re each living in their own world.

But in the world of the less than wealthy expat who is tooling down the road in a used car, things are not that simplistic. A combination of homesickness and confusion can create a situation where the new expat attempts to create their own environment that is out of sync with the rest of the community. Here’s an example:

The middle-class hermit

This particular expat acts as if they are being hunted by Interpol and/or Mossad. You’ll see them make an appearance at a restaurant or in a duty free store. It’s only after repeated viewings that it dawns on you that they’re actually your neighbor and they live just down the road (behind the barbed wire and 9-foot vegetation). They will have a very small, select group of friends who come from the same country that they do. Unfortunately, they and their friends have little in common other than keeping up with what’s going on in the motherland and how ridiculous the local culture happens to be. There may be one who will open up a bar where the other expats like to congregate. This works out well, since their wives (if from the local population) don’t really feel like hearing them go on about how things are not as good as where they originally came from.

The world traveller

This particular expat has lived in a number of different locations, throughout the world and enjoys collecting as many experiences as they can. They’ll learn the local language, learn to appreciate the local cuisine and document their experiences better than National Geographic. This happy individual truly delights the locals who are usually surprised that they’re not over in the expat bar describing the latest “atrocity” that they have been subject to. 

These are the two extreme points of the scale of the common expats that you may run into. There are many intermediate points in this scale as well, of course. But the most interesting thing is they way they tend ... (keep reading)


Not All Expats Are Created Equal

Posted on 16/12/2012

One thing that you need to understand is that all expats are definitely not the same. Oddly enough, this flies in the face of how we are perceived by the locals of any given country. However, in Southeast Asia, it’s particularly true. I thought long and hard about this and the answer to this conundrum became clearer as I got to know the locals, in my own adopted country, a little better. But to be honest, I had a bit of an advantage. Rather than renting a condo in a secluded area populated by other expats, I decided to live out in the town area inhabited by the natives.
The first thing that I noticed is that folks on the street stared at me, as if Tom Cruise (or the Elephant Man) had decided to take a stroll in their neighborhood. It was less than “subtle”, to say the least. It was kind of odd when a number of these guys would wave and shout “Hey Joe”! I’m thinking – “Hey, World War 2 was back in the 40s”. Then it hit me. Places that tend to have a way of thinking that is alien to Western civilization can create a single stereotype and go with that. In Europe, it’s a bit different since even though you have different countries alongside each other, you and they can understand each other’s way of thinking. Not so with Asia. For example, when I lived in Japan, one of the natives on the island of Okinawa couldn’t wrap her head around a simple concept. The concept that I was trying to explain was that the members of the U.S. Marine Corps., stationed there, did not accurately represent the culture of most Americans. You see, in Japan, people are conformists. The same holds true with more simplistic (read “primitive” societies).
I instantly ran into this, once I let go of the notion of buying a house out in lucrative land and rented a relative’s home in the outlying provinces. The provinces consist of mostly farming communities that lack the sophistication of the major cities (which is really saying something). I think the biggest difference is the fact that while, in Europe, the locals may start off with some preconceived notions, but they can adapt over time. Not so in many parts of Asia. And to be honest, I can’t blame them, because some expats seem to follow certain stereotypes with a vengeance. I’m absolutely sure that this is true no matter where you go, especially for Americans. That’s because humbleness is not the hallmark of American culture(s). This can be especially true in cases where they’re having some difficulty understanding different ways of life.


London, New York and Berlin Top Choices for Spanish Emigrants

Posted on 13/12/2012

The economic crisis in Spain, which has resulted in extreme unemployment, is leading many native citizens to seek new opportunities in other countries.

At the time of writing, 25% of Spanish citizens are unemployed. The figure for youth unemployment, which represents individuals aged from 16 to 25, sits at a disturbing 52%. In a country where more than half of school and college leavers are unable to find work, it is unsurprising to find people looking elsewhere for prospects.

Expatistan has access to some unique data that can provide an insightful indication as to where these native citizens plan to move. Many people use the site to research the cost of living in various destinations. By studying this data, it’s possible to see which cities potential Spanish emigrants are investigating.

The following list shows the top ten cities for which Expatistan users based in Spain have investigated the cost of living:
  1. London (UK)
  2. New York (USA)
  3. Berlin (Germany)
  4. Buenos Aries (Argentina)
  5. Paris (France)
  6. São Paulo (Brazil)
  7. Lisbon (Portugal)
  8. Rome (Italy)
  9. Zurich (Switzerland)
  10. Milan (Italy)
This data allows for some interesting observations:

The presence of London and New York at the top of the list is unsurprising. As well as being huge financial centers, these cities have long been considered places where work, at least of some description, can be easily found. It’s also important to note that these cities are permanently popular holiday destinations, so some price comparisons are likely to have been made for tourism purposes and not by individuals researching a permanent move.

Berlin’s place on the table is understandable. As is well known, Germany is leading Europe from an economic standpoint and, for now at least, has been seemingly immune to the high levels of unemployment being experienced elsewhere in Europe. Back in May 2012, UK newspaper The Guardian reported that Berlin was a popular destination for Spanish job-hunters. Zurich shares some commonality, with unemployment remaining stable in Switzerland at the present time.

Aside from New York, Buenos Aries and São Paulo are the only cities in the top ten that are located outside Europe. Both Argentina and Brazil are considered “emerging economies” by the International Monetary Fund. As such, they are considered to be lands of opportunity, and Argentina has the benefit of being a largely Spanish speaking country.

The fac... (keep reading)