There are many reasons expats move abroad. Some move to improve quality of life, while others move for love, uniting on foreign shores. Yet when it comes to Asia, it seems most expats move for a fresh challenge, with over two in five expats telling us in this year’s Expat Explorer survey that was their reason for making the big move. So, if like these adventurous expats you’re considering relocating to Asia, here are a few notes on what to expect:
A change of culture
Expats in Asia frequently come from Western cultures. In Taiwan and Japan, our survey found that a high number of respondents are from the United States (35% and 42%) and around a quarter of expats in Malaysia and Vietnam are British (27% and 25% respectively). It is not surprising therefore that this change in culture creates a fresh challenge and the opportunity for new adventures. One such change is the attitude towards the humble cuppa. While the British are known to partake in afternoon tea, in Japan they can expect something a little different. One of Japan’s most famous traditions expats can experience is attending a Tea Ceremony.
Image source: mrhayata / Flickr
Within this Chinese and Zen Buddhists- influenced ceremony, the art of making tea takes on an air of performance with meticulous procedures at every step. The tea ceremony is so well respected that there are even schools dedicated to it! Indeed, Japan - celebrated for its distinctive culture - is top choice amongst expats looking for a challenge. Once there, it is clear expats enjoy the culture change, with almost all of the expats in Japan (95%) saying that they are keen to experience local culture (compared to the global average of 83%).
Learning the language
Another challenge expats in Asia can expect to take on is getting to grips with the local language. Even deciding which language to learn can be complicated, with countries having multiple languages and dialects. India alone, for example, has 530 languages! This year’s Expat Explorer survey revealed these struggles: Vietnam topped the table in language difficulty (83%), with expats in Thailand (77%) and Japan (72%) also struggling to grasp the lingo. Despite this, expats were found to be willing to face the challenge head on. Expats living in Japan are the most likely to attempt to speak the local language (87% compared to the global average of 58%), with those in Thailand (81%) and Taiwan (80%) also making a good attempt. Whether in Asia or elsewhere, if you’re struggling to learn your host country’s language, have a look at this blog post to help you on your way.
Image Source: Flickr: amorousmusings
Reaping the rewards
Adventurous expats who move to Asia reap the rewards of taking the leap. As well as getting to explore a new culture, expats in Asia get more bang for their buck. Around six in ten expats in China (62%), Vietnam (58%) and Taiwan (56%) say they save on utilities, compared with the global average of 26%. These expats also benefit from reduced expenses for groceries – about half (48%, 54% and 46% respectively) are spending less on food, compared with the global average of 22%. When you combine this with the fact Asia is home to the highest earning expats, in a region considered more economically secure (only 24% of expats worry about the economic situation compared to 40% in Europe), it truly does seem that taking on a challenge pays off.
Check out the latest findings of the Expat Explorer 2014 survey on our interactive tool here . Share your experiences of your sports abroad with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).