Europe losing out as expats prefer Asian Tiger states

Published:  20 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Hong Kong, Euro, England
Increasing numbers of British professionals are shunning traditional European expat hubs and heading east to the four Asian Tiger states.

South Korea's capital Seoul, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are the new now for ambitious Britons looking to boost their careers in unique, exotic environments. In a recent survey, Asia holds five of the world’s most expensive cities, having taken over from Europe’s eight out of ten in 2007. The accelerated growth of the Asian Tiger states derives from their industrial and financial strength and is drawing expatriates to their capital cities in ever increasing numbers.

Obviously, the comparatively high cost of living in these countries isn’t putting off would-be expats, mostly because generous relocation packages are still taking the strain. The South Korean capital of Seoul, for example, is rated as the globe’s 34th most expensive city, but actual living costs are far lower than in Geneva, New York or London, whilst Singapore’s 22 per cent income tax rate gives expat professionals some £14,000 more in their pockets than the UK’s 45 per cent. In addition, it’s not mandatory to live the high life rather than upping your level of savings.

All four Asian Tiger cities have one essential attraction for Britons over their European rivals – the weather. Rain, when it comes, is limited by season, and even South Korea’s winters are more predictable than the average northern European summer. Exotic, scenic landscapes and warmer temperatures are common to all four, although Singapore and Hong Kong’s tropical temperatures might need getting used to.

Healthcare in these Asian states is invariably excellent, if not exactly inexpensive, and medical professionals in most regions do speak English in varying degrees. Private healthcare insurance is costly, but most packages allow for the necessity. As regards quality of life, the evolution of the four states is linked to their increasing economic strength, making living standards more than acceptable to Western professionals and their families.

For many expatriates, the main attraction outside career development is the chance to experience vastly different cultures during day to day life. Concrete jungles are replaced with the real thing, complete with hiking trails and superb views all year round. Those lucky enough to live close to a tropical beach complete with glorious sunsets seen from a local restaurant won’t miss the UK for a minute. Getting to know the local people is the best way to make the most of becoming an expat, even if the local language presents a challenge.
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