Thursday, 31 October 2013

The rise of the Emerging and Frontier ‘expat hotspots’ markets

Image Source: Wikicommons
This year’s 2013 Expat Explorer survey has given many insights in to expat life around the globe. One of the trends that continue to be highlighted in the 2013 survey, as in previous years, is the growing economic confidence of the emerging and frontier markets where expats are able to enjoy the benefits of growing economies that have performed well since the 2008 financial crises. 
To help further investigate this trend of expat satisfaction outside of developed countries, this year’s Expat Explorer survey looked at emerging markets which have been grouped as the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) whilst using the acronym VITM (Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico) to signify the young and dynamic frontier economies which is a variation on the widely used acronyms CIVETS and MIKTs.
The 2013 survey found that expats in both emerging and frontier markets are upbeat about the state of their host country economy with nine in ten (93%) expats in BRIC countries and 68% in VITM countries satisfied with the local economy against a global average of 56%. This economic confidence is reflected in job opportunities with expats generally less concerned about job security (only 26% of expats in BRIC countries and 29% of expats in VITM countries are concerned about job security compared to a global average of 39%).  

Many expats in these growing markets tend to move for a short period of time and often for career opportunities, as reflected in the higher number of expats looking to move home - 19% of those in BRIC countries are looking to move home against a global average of 11%. This short termism means that expats generally have less concern about local economic factors such as house pricing. The VITMs in particular are presenting expats with exciting opportunities for career progression and development. Over half (53%) of the expats living there agree that these countries are getting better as a place for expats to live and work, almost twice the global average of 32%; possibly a reflection of stronger confidence in the local economy influencing business decisions to relocate staff.

Lower prices along with increased job opportunities for expats combine to give expats in emerging markets greater disposable income. Nearly six in ten (59%) of expats in BRIC countries and 55% in VITM countries have more disposable income against a global average of 49%. Despite the positive view of their economies and more disposable income, expats positive economic outlook does not always translate in to personal earnings, particularly in the VITM countries where only 39% of expats agree that they earn more than they could in their home country against a global average of 53% and a BRIC average of 56%.  

Overall the growth experienced in emerging and frontier economies has meant that these countries all score well in the Expat Economics league tables, particularly for disposable income with Russia, Vietnam and Indonesia all scoring in the top 10 for disposable income. 

Find out more about the 2013 Expat Explorer Survey and look at data for specific countries here.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

New Expat Explorer 2013 findings launches today!

We’re thrilled to reveal the latest findings of our biggest and most insightful survey yet. This is the sixth consecutive year we’ve run the survey and more than 7,000 of you - our biggest ever sample to date – told us all about what it’s like to live and work abroad. We would like to say a huge thank you for sharing your experiences and making the survey a truly valuable resource for expats all over the world.

For those of you who are new to Expat Explorer, the survey covers a huge range of aspects of life abroad, from expat earning hotspots, quality of life indicators to raising children abroad. You can see the findings of this year’s survey on our newly designed Expat Explorer Interactive tool, which is now fully optimised for mobile and tablet devices for expats on the go.

Over the next few days we’ll be blogging and tweeting about our findings too but to give a taster of what the results show in 140 tweetable characters…

·         Five Asian destinations top the Expat Experience league table #EE13
·         Switzerland, China and Qatar rank in top 3 for expat earning potential #EE13
·         Germany is a top destination for expat parents #EE13

If you fancy checking out how your country fares, check out the league tables on our interactive tool and our infographic of all the findings from this year’s survey.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s findings – let us know using the comment box below or tweet us @expatexplorer.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing… Mike Lince (Part 1)

In the first of an upcoming series outlining his retired expat adventures, our latest guest blogger, Mike Lince sums up the experience of moving to a new country every six months.

Retired and Moving to a New Country Every Six Months 

I took a page out of my father’s playbook when I decided to retire early. At the age of 61, I also decided my time would be better spent traveling than working. I told my wife, Florence, “I want to travel like you did before we met.”  She said, “Then get a passport!”  And so I did.

Sailing along the Dalmatian Coast on a replica galleon near Dubrovnik, Croatia
Once my passport arrived in the mail, Florence asked me, “Where do you want to go first?”  That was easy.  I had always dreamed of seeing the mountains of Patagonia, so she began putting together the vacation of a lifetime.  It took three months to plan, and we ended up with a four month trip through five countries in Latin America:  Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. The objective was to decide in which country we would prefer to live on my $1,500/month income, and all of these countries were affordable.

Harvesting cacao near Bocas del Toro, Panama
Argentina was not under serious consideration as a living destination. We just wanted to take advantage of the spectacular scenery, and we were not disappointed. From Iguazu Falls in the north to Ushuaia in the south and all of Patagonia and the interior in between, Argentina was stunning in its beauty. 

Igazu Falls from the Argentina side
Even though we found something special in each country we visited, we loved Chile the most.  It was so diverse going from one end of the country to the other that we found many special places we loved – isolated coves along the coast, crystal clear lakes and rivers in the south, eerily desolate but captivating beauty in the Atacama Desert in the north, and towering mountains just about everywhere we looked. I am glad we took six weeks to drive the length of the country and to experience most of Chile. 

Mike at Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile
After our dream vacation we decided to move to Boquete, Panama. Geography played a part in our decision. We anticipated regular trips back to the United States to visit family, and so Panama won out over Chile as our new home. We accomplished our move by downsizing. We sold our house, both cars, and whatever would not fit into a couple of suitcases.  What our families did not want we donated. 

Temples along the Avenue of the Dead - Teotihuacan, Mexico
The notion of living in a different country every six months just kind of happened. We decided a unique way to see the world affordably was to find a base in a new country every six months from which we could venture out to explore.  So we purchased The 6 Monthers web domain and that is how we now live.  
The iconic El Mano sculpture on the beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay
Our current home is in Perth, Scotland, and we plan to move to Alicante, Spain, in January. We have tentatively mapped out the next ten years of countries where we want to live (see our website).  We think in about ten years we will be ready to move back to the United States and settle down… maybe.

About the Author

Mike and Florence met on an Alaska cruise in 2005 and they have been together ever since.  Mike retired in 2011, and that is when their traveling began. They have spent over a year in Latin America.  They have taken a Caribbean cruise, a Mediterranean cruise, and most recently they worked for a month as travel journalists in Croatia.  You can follow their travels on Mike’s blog, Applecore, and view photos on The 6 Monthers.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Retiring Abroad (Part One)

After years of working, the prospect of retirement is, for many, eagerly anticipated. With more and more people choosing to head abroad to enjoy later life, we’re taking a look at the ‘retirement expat’ in this two-part series. Where would you move to?

Where to?

When it comes to moving abroad, it’s all about location, location, location. Hot or cold? City or country? Coast, rivers or lakes? The amount of choice can be overwhelming, so if you’re thinking of retiring abroad, it’s best to consider exactly what you’re looking for and doing some research to make sure you’re making the right move. 

We’ll soon be launching the results of our 2013 Expat Explorer report, but findings from the 2012 survey revealed that some of the most popular retirement destinations for expats are India, Australia and the USA, with Canada topping the list.

Image Source: Jared Wong

Having worked and saved for a longer period of time, retirees often have more financial security and greater resources than their younger counterparts. Relocating can be an expensive process and, although it’s often tempting to take cheaper options to cut costs, this doesn't always pay off in the longer term – speak to like-minded expats via social media might be a useful way of finding some good recommendations.

If you’re looking for a slower pace of life in a warmer country, Europe is arguably one of the safest bets. With excellent transport links – which may be particularly useful if you’re keen to travel around or plan to spend part of your time at home – and dozens of countries to explore, Europe could quite literally be your oyster. Lots of expats flock to areas like Spain and France, forming large expat communities which can sometimes verge on the insular side. However, if your priority is a warmer climate and you’re not keen on changing your lifestyle too drastically, this might be the perfect option for you. For those looking to embrace a more native way of life, take a look at more remote regions or bigger cities which might offer a richer culture.
Image Source: The Guardian

The USA and Canada are still seen by many as the lands of opportunity, offering a high standard of living for expats from all over the globe. Although these are extremely popular locations, the red tape can be tricky.

Why retire abroad?

One of the main reasons that expats retire abroad is to join their families. Moving abroad or moving home to join others can throw up lots of questions and will affect where you live. Moving in with close or extended family could be one way to make your move easier – but there are limitations. What’s worked well as a holiday or part-time arrangement before can change in the longer-term, so unless you’re all happy with the arrangement and there’s enough room for everyone, you might like to consider finding your own space. Given that some retirees are more mobile than others, it’s worth checking out local transport options, as well as accessibility to local amenities and healthcare.   

Friday, 18 October 2013

Drinks from around the world

For many expats, and depending whereabouts you happen to be in the world, sharing a few drinks can be a great way to make new friends. It can also, quite literally, help you to get a taste for your new surroundings and uncover any number of interesting local traditions or customs which relate to your new home. With that in mind, here’s a round-up of some things you might not know about drinks around the world. 

In many warm countries, particularly places like Italy and Greece, it’s fashionable to indulge in an aperitif, or a pre-evening drink, before sitting down to enjoy a meal. The word is French, derived from the Latin verb, ‘aperire’ with means ‘to open’. Typically, an aperitif might be a type of cocktail, champagne or spirit, often served with a light snack such as nuts, crisps, olives or Pâté. As the aperitif is usually served prior to a meal, the drink tends to be dry rather than sweet – in Greece, many expats will have come across ouzo, an alcoholic shot which often contains flavours of aniseed and is drunk quickly before a meal with the proclamation “Yammas!”, the Greek equivalent of “cheers”. 

Image source: Google
Tea is perhaps one of the world’s most popular hot drinks, with different varieties brewing all over the world. Reading tea leaves historically was seen as a way to predict fortunes, good and bad, and this remains an enigmatic hobby for tea-fans everywhere. For many expats, the move abroad may at some stage include a desperate search to track down a particular brand of favourite tea or coffee, which can never quite be matched by its foreign counterparts. In more popular expat destinations, you might strike lucky at the local supermarket but others living in more remote locations might not be as lucky. As the availability varies widely, the most fail-safe way to get your hands on a favourite brand is to ask a friend or relative to take pity on you and send supplies, or bring them as a gift when they come to stay.

Image source: Google
For anyone who’s living in a hot climate, it’s important to stay hydrated – and many will agree there’s very little that can beat an ice cold drink on a warm day! Australia is a country widely renowned for its love of cold beer, more commonly known locally as a ‘stubby’. Many pubs and restaurants take a slightly unusual approach, often serving up three quarters of a pint, rather than the usual half or whole measure. Known as a ‘scooner’, Aussies are keen on this particular measure as it means the beer is less likely to become warm throughout drinking. 

Image source: Google
It’s also important to become familiar with the different customs or rules around drinks in your new country. Drinking etiquette varies hugely from country-to-country, particularly when it comes to alcohol. In some places, drinking to excess is the norm, and may even be encouraged, whereas in other countries it’s the kind of behaviour that can get you into real trouble. For instance, in Dubai there is a strong culture for drinking alcohol and ‘all you can drink’ brunches, but any rowdiness or drinking without the required licence could result in a prison stay. Take the time to suss out local laws and guidelines about certain areas where drinking may or may not be permitted, for example in parks or on beaches, and observe others’ behaviour at the local watering holes to get a better idea of what’s acceptable. In other areas, watching how much you’re drinking might be more difficult than you’d expect; for instance, in China, you’ll often find that an empty glass is always re-filled – whether you’re thirsty or not! It may take two or three refusals before your host is willing to take no for an answer, so if you’ve had enough, it might be a good idea to keep your glass full to avoid any awkwardness.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Around the world in nine food festivals

A major part of the excitement of being an expat in a new place is sampling the diverse range of food that their new home has to offer. This can be experienced at food festivals, many of which showcase local ingredients and dishes. Food festivals held around the world range from the weird and wonderful to the delicious and decadent.

Some food festivals are world famous for celebrating a diverse array of scrumptious food. Foodies should head to Singapore to experience the World Gourmet Summit which has it all. Singapore hosts the most sought after flavours in the world, from fine wines to ethnic specialities. There are also celebrity cooking demonstrations and workshops taught by master chefs. 

One of Australia’s most popular food festivals is the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival which started in 1993 but has over 200 events 20 years later. The two week festival presents gourmet dishes and is renowned for showcasing the best of Victoria’s wine and food.  

Visitors to the paradise of the Cayman Islands can take part in the Caribbean’s biggest culinary event, the Cayman Cookout. The food festival on Grand Cayman Island celebrates all the fantastic flavours of the islands and is all prepared outdoors in the sun. You’ll find cooking showcases by famous chefs, culinary tours of the island, catamaran cookouts and more. 

San Francisco Street Food festival will experience a festival like no other, attracting 50,000 to taste what the Bay Area has to offer. Street food is growing rapidly as a business and the high-quality stalls in San Francisco serve delicious, gourmet food at this Bohemian style feast.

Image Source: Flickr

There are many festivals around the world which champion a local ingredient and can be a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about native culture. For instance, New Mexico’s Hatch Valley is well known for its prolific production of spicy ‘Hatch’ chilies and these take centre stage at a summer festival. Diners can sample these firecrackers in a huge range of spicy food and enjoy chilli eating competitions, cook-offs, and carnival rides. Lovers of seafood can head to Maine Lobster Fest held in Rockland, New England. The state is famous for this crustacean and locals celebrate with live music, rides and a floating lobster crate race. Foodies can enjoy lobster prepared in more ways you can ever imagine, with the highlight of a 20,000 pound lobster cooker to feast on. Galway in Ireland also celebrates the seafood it is acclaimed for, with its annual Oyster festival. The locals and visitors see off the summer sipping champagne and shucking oysters. The festival includes a Mardi Gras-style carnival with live bands and a seafood feast to cap it off.


Image Source: Flickr
Some of the strangest festivals in the world revolve around food. The now world-famous Spanish festival, La Tomatina, is a party that celebrates the tomato and has taken place every year since 1945. The crazy party starts with a rush to climb a ham-topped greasy pole. Once the ham is grabbed, trucks unload tonnes of tomatoes and the crowd have a huge food fight creating a massive marinara mess.  

Another strange festival is held in Gloucestershire, Britain. Cooper’s Hill has become famous for the annual Cheese Rolling Festival where competitors run after a nine pound wheel of cheese down a steep incline. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. This used to be a local event but in recent years, people have travelled from around the world to compete. 

Chinchilla in Queensland, Australia celebrates its melon production with a festival devoted to the fruit. Revellers can enjoy melon skiing, melon bungee and pip spitting competitions!

Image Source: Wikimedia
Food festivals are a great way for expats to learn about local produce, customs and culture. From the gourmet to the unusual , expats can meet and engage with local people and try delicacies from their new home. Food festivals have become about more than the food they are championing, with live music and carnival rides, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Monday, 7 October 2013

How to make friends abroad

It can be very daunting making the big move overseas. Leaving your social networks in your home town can be difficult and it can take a while to make new friends as an expat.

Firstly, it is useful to seek out connections before you leave that you can meet up with when you arrive in your new home. It is a great comfort to expats to know that there is someone they have a link with when they arrive in an alien country. Chat to other expats on forums and websites while you are preparing to move and make notes of their tips, advice and contacts since this can be the start of some great adventures. Tell all your friends and neighbours at home where you are planning to move to as they might have a contact they can put you in touch with. Then, when you arrive you can organise to meet with them and start to build connections. You never know where meeting one new person can take you!

Image Source: Flickr
One thing that helps when trying to make friends as an expat is learning the local language so you can talk to local people. This is especially important if the people in your new country do not tend to speak the same language as they did at home as it is the key to communicating. However, if you don’t manage to pick up the lingo before you arrive in your new home, even just knowing how to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ can be a great start. By engaging with locals in their native tongue you can immediately begin to get acquainted with your neighbours. They might even speak a bit of your language, or be able to introduce you to someone who does. Plus, you could always join a language class to meet some fellow expats who you can practice your new language with!

Image Source: Wikicommons

A great way to make friends is to find out whether there is an international network in your town, or a meeting forum for expats as there often is in expat hotspots. This is a great way to meet people who you will have a lot in common with. Moving abroad can be a great opportunity to take up a new hobby. This can help you to immerse yourself in the local community and to enjoy spending time with other people. There may be some unusual activities that are practiced in your destination. You can engage in the local activities such as dragon boating in Hong Kong or surfing in Sydney as a way to meet other expats doing the same, or a local who is doing what they love.

Image Source: Flickr
One of the main ways expats meet people is through their daily activities. If you have children, invite other kids their age round to play together. You will inevitably end up getting to know their parents.  Attend school events such as fairs, sport games and meetings and you will start chatting to other parents and members of the local community. You can also make friends through work. Joining in team meetings, training group and going for drinks after work can result in you making a new friend. It can take time to build relationships with people from work but if you put some effort in you can meet some great people that you share common interests with.
Image Source: Flickr
For new expats, the most important thing to remember is that you will make friends, it just might take a bit of time and effort. Say ‘yes’ to all the invites and opportunities that come your way as participation is key and getting involved is the first step to meeting people and making friends.

Do you have a great tip on making friends abroad? Add yours to our hints & tips tool here.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Country in Review: Australia

When expats move to Australia, they can expect wide variety combined with an all-round laidback lifestyle and atmosphere. The beautiful beaches of the Whitsundays on the east coast are a stark contrast to the tropical rainforests in Cape Tribulation, Queensland, or the dry landscapes of the Kimberley. Wherever you’re heading to, ‘Down Under’ is sure to have something to offer adventurous expats.

Image Source: Wikicommons
The Australian map is scattered with amazing and diverse cities, each claiming a different character. In fact, more than 90% of Australia’s population live in coastal cities. Sydney is home to the iconic Port Jackson harbour, which is one of the most identifiable city landscapes in the world. Visitors flock there to view the spectacular sights and landmarks. The Opera House which was designed to look like an orange, has become a symbol synonymous with Australia, and the huge Harbour Bridge frames the city, nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’, links the Central Business District to the North Shore of the city.

One of the most enjoyable things for expats to do as they settle into Sydney is take the ferry out of the CBD to one of the northern islands. Not only is this a great way to travel, but it provides a great view of the city with its famous landmarks and allows you to take in the grand natural harbour.

On the other side of Australia, the city of Perth has become increasingly popular with expats.  The growing prosperity of the city and the modern CBD which sits on the Swan River has drawn people away from the traditional eastern hotspots. Perth is home to a trendy nightlife and close to beautiful Indian Ocean beaches and Swan Valley vineyards. It is also a great place to enjoy the favourite Australian sports - Aussie Rules football and cricket.

Image Source: Wikicommons
The sunny climate and laidback Aussie attitude means that even city dwellers head to the beach at weekends. Australia has over 10,000 beautiful beaches to enjoy. Classic Aussie activities happen at the beach with people regularly surfing, diving, sunbathing and enjoying barbeques- it has become quite a tradition for expats to get a photo at the beach wearing a Santa hat on Christmas Day!

However, when visiting the beach, you must be careful to only swim in safe waters and take precautions. Australia has the second highest number of shark attacks in the world, and is also home to poisonous creatures like the box jellyfish.

Despite this, Australia is a great place to enjoy the marvel of the ocean. The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and as the world’s largest coral reef system, it can be seen from outer space. Turtles, dolphins, mantarays and tropical fish make their home here and snorkelers and divers can swim amongst the sea life.

Image Source: Wikicommons
Australia does not just draw people to the beaches. The ‘outback’ also attracts tourists and expats alike. The outback is one of the best places to find the native animals that Australia is famous for. It may be fluffy and appealing, but some Aussies take a dim view of what might be its most famous breed of wildlife; the kangaroo. Although a herd can cause damage to crops and fields, they still provide enjoyment to visitors. The endangered koala bear has suffered from massive urbanisation in Oz, but plans to protect the eucalyptus loving animal have been quite successful. Many living in Australia enjoy the opportunity to take a trip to the outback to see Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock near Alice Springs.It is a large sandstone rock formation and is sacred to the aboriginal people. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a plethora of springs, rock caves, water formations and ancient paintings.



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