Asian cities lose out to European equivalents on expat appeal

Published:  31 Jan at 6 PM
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Expats making a lifestyle choice are far more likely to choose large cities in Europe than they are to make the same choice when heading for Asian countries.

New York, London, Paris and Berlin all have a considerable number of expat enclaves in which those of the same nationality feel secure amid their own languages and amenities. However, major Asian conurbations such as Bangkok, Manila and Beijing are seen as expensive, confusing and even threatening.

Given the fact that in any world country’s capital city, the cost of living is far higher than in provincial capitals or rural towns, it’s true that those who move overseas to work will find the best jobs at the highest salaries in the capitals, whether in Europe or Asia. Expat surveys suggest that, nowadays, money is the objective for working expats rather then the experience of living in a totally new and unfamiliar location.

For retirees on fixed pensions, living in any country’s major city is a financial strain for most, but somehow the strain seems less along the banks of the Seine, the Thames or in the multicultural hubs of London and Berlin. Attempting a comfortable pensioner lifestyle in Bangkok is almost impossible, as a small apartment in a good, safe district costs more than half the average pension, and Manila is even more expensive.

Smaller cities and town invariably attract older expats and retirees, with expats’ clubs and facilities provided by immigrants who’ve lived in town for many years and are able to ease newcomers into the community or communities. Costs are far less, especially for quality housing and there’s a varied choice of food, with European and American restaurants more expensive but still affordable.
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