Friday, 30 April 2010

Greek woes - will expats stay or go?

Greece has continued to dominate the headlines this week as it struggles to resolve its debt crisis. Today the Financial Times reported that the country "has agreed the outline of a €24bn austerity package in return for a multibillion-euro loan from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund, according to people familiar with the talks."

Greece's troubles have also affected the wider Eurozone, driving down the value of the Euro and causing concern among other nations, particularly France, where some organisations have a large exposure to Greek bonds. Adding to this has been the downgrading of Spain's debt to AA by Standard and Poor's.

With these ongoing issues surrounding Greece and the fallout for the Eurozone, how has expat life been affected? Clearly it may make some think about potentially making a move away however for others it may have little effect on their day to day lives. If there are any expats in Greece or the Eurozone amongst our readership, it would be great to know what the crisis means for you. Share your thoughts in the Expat Explorer 2010 survey which has opened this week here.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The evolving expat life

There's no doubt that expats' lives around the world have been fundamentally shaped as a result of recent shifts in the global economy. It's also true to say that some have felt it far more than others. A recent Telegraph article reveals that indeed not all expats - and in this case British expats - lead a better life abroad. Although for many an expat life does bring its own rewards, it's clear that the impact of things like the recession has turned a number of expats' dreams into nightmares.

It's something we have touched on before but as the article says, the fall in the value of the pound has meant that some expats have lost "about 30 percent of their income", something that is not easy when their problems are compounded with rising food and fuel bills. In addition to currency fluctuations, job markets have also taken a battering, making finding work a much more difficult task.

Even as we now move into recovery mode, it is clear that expats around the world still face a number of challenges as they deal with changes to their own personal situations. A year on from Expat Explorer 2009, we are keen to find out how expats have fared over the past 12 months - what's changed and what hasn't? As an expat, how have you been affected? Are you still considering a move home or is your current country's economy strong enough to keep you where you are. Take part in Expat Explorer 2010 now by clicking here.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Expat Explorer 2010 now live!

We are very excited to announce the launch of this year’s Expat Explorer survey to the worldwide expat community. When you have the chance please visit the survey here.

It should take around 10 minutes to complete. The survey will be open from now until the 31st May.

Make sure your country doesn’t miss out on getting in to the survey – we’d really appreciate everyone sending this to their friends, family, colleagues, and anybody else as long as they are an expat. If you live away from your country of origin, your insight will be incredibly valuable and all responses will allow you, us and others to draw those interesting comparisons about life, money, challenges, opportunities and more across a range of different countries. We would love to get the many expat networks and communities out there involved, particularly in some of the smaller expat destinations, as this sort of support helps us to ensure your country is represented and allows us to take a truly global view.

If you’re on twitter then you can help us out by retweeting us to your followers.

Friday, 23 April 2010

3 days until launch

At the start of next week we will be opening the HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer 2010 survey to you, the expat population. Some of the feedback we got last year was on why certain countries didn’t make it into the final reports – this was down to the fact that we didn’t have enough respondents from these locations to meet our statistical criteria. The more responses that we get from various countries, the more countries we can report on and the more comparisons we can make. Therefore make sure you not only fill in the report yourself but share it around with as many expats as possible!

Although we featured 26 countries in the reports last year and had some really interesting findings from these comparisons, we are really looking to expand further again this year. We’ve tweaked the survey on the basis of lots of the feedback we had so hopefully this year it will be even more insightful. We really appreciate your contribution in helping to make this project a success so check back here (or on the Expat Zone site) after the weekend.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

How life can differ

5 days until the launch of Expat Explorer 2010.

We read a really interesting article recently that serves to highlight how different standard procedures can be from one country to another – in this case, applying for a job. Apparently in Peru, conciseness of a CV is less important than making sure every single detail of your experience is covered, and submitted in person along with copies of qualification transcripts when making an application.

According to the author, Russian Victoria Lugovskaya, this is quite the opposite to how applications are done in her home country. Does anybody else who has tried looking for work in another country have stories on how different it can be? Let us know by posting on here or tweeting us.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Eruption disruption

As many around the world already know, much of the airspace over Europe has been shut down over the last few days due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano is Iceland, which has left a cloud of ash that remains dangerous for all aircraft. With flights suspended, trains and ferries are fully booked and many peoples’ travel plans have been ruined. The BBC recently reported that Royal Navy ships are being brought in to help return Britons stranded overseas. With flight restrictions extended to at least Tuesday morning (with a high possibility of a further extension), people across the world are being told that there is nothing they can do and asked to just make do where they are until there is further news.

For the expat population, flight disruptions like this can also mean that important occasions also have the potential of being ruined, such as flying home for a friend’s wedding or finally making a long overdue visit to friends and family. There is no doubt that there are many expats in the affected locations who would be biting their nails this week as their respective trips loom ever closer.

Has the eruption affected you? Send in your stories – we’d be interested in hearing from any expats that have had their travel plans affected.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Expat Explorer 2010 survey launch just 10 days away

In just 10 days time we’ll be opening this year’s HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer survey to you, allowing expats from all around the world to submit their views on life, money, relationships and what it’s like to lead a life abroad.

The survey will be following a similar format to last year's and can be filled in by anybody so long as you currently reside in a different country to your country of origin and are over the age of 18. We want to hear from all expats, whether you’re a broker in Bahrain, a student in Spain, a journalist in Japan, a teacher in Thailand or even a marine biologist in the Maldives!

We have taken on board your feedback from last year’s Expat Explorer survey and made a few additional tweaks to make sure we touch on the areas that you wanted to see covered.

Last time round we received over 3,100 responses from people in over 50 countries in total, and overall 26 countries made the final comparative reports. For those of you that didn’t see your country included, it’s even more important to share this with as many friends, family and colleagues as possible to ensure there are enough respondents for your individual country analysis.

Check back here or visit the Expat Zone site on Monday 26th for details of how you can participate.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Expat nights out

The entertainment and nightlife scenes of different countries can be for many one of the perks of being an expat. Particularly in large cities, the amount on offer will be eye-opening and exciting, yet at the same time it may be confusing for a newcomer to an area. When discovering the social scene, having someone to show you round can be very handy (which is why keeping those contacts can be so valuable!)

However for many it will be a case of trial and error. Written guides can be useful if they’re written by someone with first-hand experience of the area. A recent post on Live Mint Expat Blog was a short and sweet guide to nights out in Delhi, which makes for fun reading. Even if you don’t live there, you’ll probably be able to relate with some of the descriptions of the crowd and “how the night ends”.
The internet has all sorts of guides and information allowing you to thoroughly research an area before heading out. We enjoyed reading the Live Mint blog as it has a real sense of personality – an important part of describing any social scene! We’d be very interested to hear your own experiences or guides and in promoting them on this blog so let us know by posting here, emailing us at, or getting in touch via twitter.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Further reports of expats hurt by currency rates

British newspaper The Times is the latest publication to look at how British expats – and in particular, pensioners – are being hurt by the worsening performance of the pound. It suggests that things could get even worse due to political uncertainty in advance of the election, which would weigh on hopes for economic recovery.

The Times says that “of the estimated 1.1m British pensioners living overseas, one in five claims a sterling pension”, and that the majority, that live in Europe, face significant hardships due to the flattening Sterling-Euro exchange rate.

Outside of Europe, generally the situation is less severe. Although it would not be down under, where the Australian dollar has made extremely strong ground on the pound in the last couple of years. Do any of our readers have first-hand experience of being hurt by (or benefitting) from currency rates or anecdotes on what you’ve done to beat the crunch?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Expats face challenges in India

An article in Indian publication The Economic Times describes a recent survey’s findings that the country is the second most challenging location in the world for expats. China was first and Russia was third. The article describes how “these countries have emerged as the most challenging locations for expatriates due to the issues related to housing, schooling, immigration challenges and healthcare costs among others”.

These findings on China and Russia reflect the findings of our Expat Experience report which looked at lifestyle and found it generally to be poorer in emerging markets than in established markets.

On this blog we looked recently at a surge in expat recruitment in India, as the highly mobile flock to areas of economic growth and personal opportunity. It seems that they do this in the face of significant lifestyle challenges. Hopefully, we will be able to include India in this year’s survey and if the evidence is anything to go by, we should be able to see very interesting findings from the country. Make sure you are heard when the survey goes live!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Expats in the UK election

As many of you may know the UK government yesterday confirmed the general election date as the 6th May 2010. The race is now on between Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and it looks like voting will be tight, with polls even suggesting a hung parliament, if one side does not gain enough of a majority over another to be declared outright winner of the election.

A recent article from the United Arab Emirates looked at poll results that suggested as few as 15 per cent of British expatriates living in the UAE may vote in the upcoming election. It is interesting to see how the distance from their homeland has caused a lack of interest in the political situation back home. We wonder if this is typical amongst expats, or reflective of the sentiment of either British expats, or the expat community in the UAE or Middle East.

We’d be interested to hear your views on politics in countries you no longer live in. Are you still eligible to vote in your home country and if so do you exercise this right? If you are British, what are your thoughts on the election and do you see any way that it will affect you, living abroad? Let us know by posting here or tweeting us @expatexplorer.

Expat Easter

We found it interesting reading a recent blog post from an expat in Morocco – Mary Mimouna – which details how she adapts traditional Easter celebrations in her new country.

Any holiday, which people traditionally celebrate with their friends, family and loved ones, can be a bit daunting as an expatriate, far away from home. On the other hand, where you are now may be where your new friends or even new family are.

We’d love to hear your experiences of Easter as an expat, or any insight into holidays generally. Let us know your stories by commenting here or tweeting @expatexplorer.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tribulations of sterling hurts expats

Expats with income paid in sterling have been hit badly by the currency’s weakness in the past months. They typically spend more money on day-to-day living costs simply because they get less for their sterling once they convert it to the local currency.

British charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service says has it has seen a third more calls than usual from people overseas having difficulties paying UK debts. The majority of these originated from people living in Eurozone countries, where the near-parity between the euro and the pound has left many struggling.

The full story can be read here.

While the opportunities of living overseas can be great, there are risks associated with them. Have any of our readers had their lifestyle affected by fluctuating currency rates?



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