Thursday, 31 December 2009

End of a decade...

The “noughties” will end as the clock strikes 00:00 on 1st January 2010. But for expats living away from home, when exactly is this? GMT? EST? NZST? Or do you have a thought for when it’s New Year back in your home country? We would imagine most to stick to the time zone they are in but it’s always nice to have an extra excuse to break out the champagne and have a sing song. There are undoubtedly some expats and travellers out there who take advantage and celebrate twice (or more…).

Apparently roughly 450 planes were in the sky for the millennium celebrations 10 years ago. Does anybody know of anyone, expat or otherwise, welcoming 2010 in in-flight?

As always we’d love to hear your stories. It’s been a very interesting year for most and one that has set us up for another interesting year in 2010. We wish everyone the very best and here’s to a prosperous New Year!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Festive celebrations around the world

Last year British paper the Daily Mail took a look at how the British were celebrating Christmas around the world, including in Australia, Thailand and Canada – coincidentally our top 3 countries featured in Expat Experience! The article contains some really interesting (and some hilarious) photos that show just a few of the different takes on traditional celebrations.

So this year does anybody have any stories of enjoying a Christmas barbeque instead of a Christmas roast? Of falling asleep under the beating sun instead of in front of the crackling fire? Or did you for the first time experience a white Christmas? How has Christmas been different for you as an expat?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

An Expat Xmas

Wherever you are, we want to wish our readers and expats around the world all the best for Christmas and the festive season.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Native tongues

The second report from this year’s HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer report has revealed to us some interesting trends about the language barriers expats face as they move from country to country.

Not surprisingly, expats living in English speaking countries have no trouble with language barriers, regardless of their origins. Hong Kong’s language barrier is the biggest hurdle, with 50% finding that learning the language is very difficult.

But despite this, our research indicates that expats living in Hong Kong have one of the best social lives of anywhere else in the world. It just goes to show, language doesn’t have to be a limiting factor when it comes to enjoying the experience of a new country.

Expats are pretty good at picking up languages it seems. Of all those surveyed, 68% could speak more than one language with German, Sinhala, French and Chinese Mandarin being the most widely spoken. Collectively, our selection of expats could speak a total of 57 languages. A pretty diverse bunch no?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Wall Street Journal comments on opportunities for expats in the US

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal looks at how our research offers insight into the job situation in the United States. According to Expat Explorer survey, there is a higher percentage of expats based in the US who are considering returning home (than the global average), citing limited career opportunities.

The unemployment picture in the US is grim, with the rate at 10%, and it seems companies are taking advantage of this to lure workers to other regions around the world. The article has triggered an interesting discussion by readers on the WSJ site. Are there any expats in the US that have a view on this? Would love to hear your thoughts here or via our Twitter.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

In the lap of luxury

A staggering one in four expats (24%) reveal they’re living the high life, splashing out on their own pool, according to our research.

It also revealed that male expats need more help around the home when they’re living abroad, with 41% of men (and just 37% of female expats), admitting to having household staff. If you’re fortunate enough to be an expat in Vietnam, chances are you’ll have a slew of staff – some 91% of expats in Vietnam have a number of household staff at hand. Lucky for some eh?

Almost a quarter of expats own a boat/yacht (23%), with those in Qatar most likely to have some kind of recreational floatation device – some 59% in fact. Those living in the UK are one of the least likely to own a boat – just 12%, closely followed by US based expats (18%). A canal boat on the Thames doesn’t really have the same appeal as a motor yacht in the Med…

When it comes to holiday, 47% of expats like to take them regularly. Those living in the US are least likely to take them regularly (33%), closely followed by those living in Australia (37%) and UK (42%).

We’ve delved into luxurious lifestyles a lot more in the latest HSBC Expat Explorer report – Expat Experience – which might give you a little insight into how your life could be if you take the plunge and move abroad...

Monday, 14 December 2009

UK expats driven home by weak pound

Saw this recent article in the Financial Times, which shows how exchange rates are affecting many expats and serves to underline how exposed some expats can be to global trends.

Is the exchange rate affecting any of our readers in such a dramatic way? We're always interested to heard first-hand experiences and comments!

Quality of life

Although the expat life varies greatly from country to country and region to region, the expats that we talked to often share a similar perspective and outlook towards life. These are some words from expats that took part in our survey on how they find their new lifestyle (these are from expats in countries all around the world):

“No regrets and I will never look back. It's a great chance to develop - personally and professionally. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have some fun, work and see the world at the same time.”

“Best thing that I ever did and a lifestyle that I would like to continue as long as possible!”

“It’s been a great experience to live abroad and be able to learn from other people with different customs and culture. It opens your mind and make you wiser!”

“Its a life that most people can't hack, yet if you can it opens the door to tremendous opportunity.”

“There's only so much planning that you can do in advance. In the end, it's all about taking the leap into the unknown.”

“I have no idea how this happened and I live in a different country... I'm a small town girl, this wasn't supposed to happen... but I am so happy it did.”

These were only a minute fraction of the responses that we received and it is always fascinating to see how others find themselves adjusting to expat life, so keep those comments coming!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Hannah Beecham on expat adjustment

We have the third and final podcast from Hannah Beecham, editor of Expat Investor, available to listen to.

In this recording Hannah discusses how the findings of the Expat Experience survey can be used by expats facing adjustment to another culture and/or society, and the issues they may face. As she describes, this may prove useful for some, as “to be forewarned, is to be forearmed”

Listen to it here .

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Your views

There has been some really interesting feedback to the Expat Experience survey in the past week or so since launch, particularly via our Twitter feed, and it is great to know that our research has reached so many people and given them something to think about. We just wanted to give a quick thanks to everyone who has read and commented on the story so far.

As you’d expect there has been a good deal of noise by expats living in Canada and Australia happy with their position at the top of the survey – and no doubt generally happy about their quality of life too!

‘Canada: The lifestyle choice’ CBC.ca http://tiny.cc/OZUGp

‘Is Canada the best place in the world for expats to live?’ Shelter Offshore http://tiny.cc/9RVVi

‘Australia a top place to live’ News.com.au http://tiny.cc/So4Pv

We also wanted to extend our appreciation again to those that filled out the survey in the first place, without whom this would not have been possible. It would be interesting to know how many of you that completed the survey have since read the report(s) and whether you feel your contribution was in line with the overall findings or in contrast to them.

We are keen to have even more of you take part in next year’s survey so please keep checking back here to find details on how to participate in next year’s HSBC Expat Explorer!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Expat Christmas ‘09

This article looks at how hotels in Beijing are preparing to cater for expats celebrating Christmas where they are rather than returning home for the festivities. This just one example of the global downturn affecting expats – causing them to budget more carefully this year.

So there should be some pretty exciting parties taking place for expats and maybe the opportunity to link up with some others that are in the same boat, far from home, this year! And this won’t only be happening in Beijing – there are many other non-western expat destinations where this situation will be common. So if you’re an expat used to a traditional Christmas, but not planning to return home, how are you planning to do things differently this year? Let us know of any really interesting ideas or stories!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Australians have the world’s biggest homes

Quality of accommodation makes a large difference to overall quality of life and this is represented in the Expat Experience country rankings.

A recent study by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia looked at home size in locations around the world and interestingly found that Australia has recently overtaken the United States to boast the highest world average for house size, at 214.6 square metres. The United States now comes in second at 201.5 square metres.

Now this figure might not mean an awful lot by itself unless you are in real estate or own your own home. But when you compare to the average size in Britain – a paltry 76 square metres – it gives some insight into why expats living in the UK and responding to our survey find accommodation a particularly sore point, resulting in its position of 26th out of 26 countries for accommodation. Upon moving to the UK it appears you have to get used to a lot less space!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Top 10 country rankings

The Expat Experience report compared quality of life for expats in the various countries around the world – over 26 in fact. The countries were ranked according to a series of criterion including quality of life, work/life balance, food, and of course, general lifestyle.

The top three positions for expats’ quality of life are occupied by Canada, Australia and Thailand. The aspects of Canada that propel it to the top of the rankings are the standard of accommodation, the ease of making local friends and the enjoyment of family life.

The highest quality of life in Europe is to be found in France, which comes 7th overall and unsurprisingly, the quality of food in France surpasses that in all other countries, helping it rise up the overall rankings. The best healthcare is also deemed to be in France.

The UK ranks first of all the countries for the quality of entertainment, and second for fashion, although it ranks bottom on a number of factors including as quality of healthcare and work/life balance.

Top 10 places to live:

1 Canada
2 Australia
3 Thailand
4 Singapore
5 Bahrain
6 South Africa
7 France
8 USA
9 Spain
10 Hong Kong

If you want a good work/life balance, head to... Bahrain

The latest Expat Experience report has found that working experiences vary dramatically depending on which country people live in. Some places scored amazingly well in terms of work/life balance... but others scored incredibly poorly.

Bahrain and the Netherlands tied in offering its expat residents the greatest improvement in working hours, but it was the India and Hong Kong based expats that admitted they had the worst working hours.

More than half (53%) of expats living in the UK said that their morning commute had deteriorated since moving to this country, whereas just 15% of expats living in Australia complained about their daily commute

Not surprisingly, the report has revealed that there is a clear correlation between poor working hours and a decreased quality of family life. Over half of all expats moving to India (60%) and Hong Kong (52%) noted a worsening of their working hours created deterioration in the quality of their family life.

Expats - a social bunch

This year’s Expat Experience report has taken a comparative look at quality of life for expats around the world. Social and integration aspects that affect expats trying to settle into new countries and communities have all been studied hard and a number of interesting results have been revealed.

For example, expats living in the UK were less satisfied with their quality of life than the majority of their counterparts elsewhere, resulting in it coming in 23rd out of 26 countries in the survey.

Expats in the UK are also younger than most expats around the world, with just under half of the expats aged between 25 and 34. On average, expats living in other countries around the world are older, with only a quarter fitting into in this age bracket and the vast majority (72%) aged 35 and over.

The UK scored highly when it came to entertainment – the top destination for expats in fact. Out of all the countries, Thailand is rated second, United States third, Hong Kong fourth and Australia fifth.

And randomly, almost half of expats in Thailand have married or found a life partner since moving there, making it the country where more expats find love than anywhere else – so if you’re single and looking for love, you can find it in Thailand.

UK scores poorly in this year's Expat Experience report

According to the latest findings from the Expat Experience survey the UK has ranked as one of the lower performing locations for overall expat lifestyle based on both an expat’s quality of life and the ease at which they can integrate into their new country of residence. It has shown that the UK scores low on a number of factors including quality of accommodation, commuting and even their own personal health.

What is interesting that despite this, anecdotal feedback would suggest that the UK and in particular London is one of the most sought after expat locations so it is interesting to see that expats are still coming to the UK despite admitting a poorer quality of life than their home country. Figures compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have also suggested that immigration into the UK remains high compared with the rest of Europe.

Let us know what you think about this – the UK scored well for entertainment and also for career. What are some of the other things that you love about the UK?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

How long can you expect to live abroad - Hannah Beecham finds out...

Please have a listen to a podcast from Hannah Beecham, the editor of Expat Investor, where she discusses the report and its findings.

Click here to hear what she has to say.

In the second installment, Hannah talks about the lifestyles of expats around the world and discovers just how long you can expect to be enjoying the expatriate lifestyle for.

Hannah also has her own blog - check out what she has to say here.

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