Asia is in a phase of unprecedented economic growth. The East offers oodles of advantages – tax benefits, positive economic outlook, great weather, etc. – making Westerners increasingly eager to bag overseas assignments that bring them to this continent. While there are no official stats, it is estimated that 250,000 US citizens emigrate to Asia each year.
Little surprise then that in the 2013 Expat Explorer Survey, expats in Asian countries reported the greatest satisfaction and the best quality of life. Factors such as quality of life and ease of setting up and integrating with the local community are the leading reasons why the continent is so highly preferred.
Expats in Asian countries are more likely to make friends upon moving abroad – 76% in Thailand, 63% in Singapore, 63% in Taiwan and 59% in China – as compared to the global average of 57%.
They also enjoy an active social life – 59% in Thailand, 44% in China, 37% in India and 36% in Taiwan – compared to the global average of just 26%.
1). Economic outlook
While North America and much of Europe are still struggling, the Asian countries have long since emerged from the recession, and their economies are booming. There are plentiful opportunities for experiencing progressive growth in emerging economies such as India. Long-respected powerhouses like China and Japan still attract expats looking to further their career and land positions associated with lucrative salaries.
According to the Mercer 2014 Quality of Living rankings, Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard among its cities than any other region does. For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of life is continually improving. Singapore has the highest quality of life in Asia, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, and Osaka.
With their considerable growth in the last decade, many second-tier Asian cities are starting to emerge as important places of business for multinational companies. Examples include Chenoa in South Korea which is strategically located in an area where several technology companies have operations. Over the past decades, Pune in India has developed into an education hub and is home to IT, high-tech industries, and automobile manufacturing.
Xian in China has also witnessed some major developments; the establishment of its Economic and Technological Development Zone has attracted foreign investments. The city is also host to various companies involved in financial services, consulting, and computer services.
Considering the earning potential, higher levels of disposable income, and satisfaction with the economic outlook, expats living in Asia notice an improvement in their financial status upon moving and are more satisfied with the state of the economy in their host country.
2). Cost of living
Westerners are drawn to Asia for a number of reasons – the low cost of living holds a definite allure. Your dollar goes a lot further in the Asia region, which means you don’t have to think about every dollar you spend. Generally, expatriates will also earn monthly salaries that are several times higher than what local people make.
For most goods, services and entertainment, you pay just one-third or one-quarter of what you would pay back home. Most Asian countries also have lower tax rates than the Western world.
3). Private and Family life
Asia has an ingrained value system where the family precedes all else. This makes it an ideal place for raising children. Not only are jobs less stressful but companies also understand the importance of employees spending time with their families. Moreover, child-care services and child rearing is not only cheaper but also less strenuous, as you can easily afford to hire help.
These developing countries have some exceptional international schools with high quality education, where kids can experience multiculturalism at its best. Some expatriates opt to enrol their children in the local schools where the local elite send their kids in order to give children a richer experience of the local culture.
4). Quality Healthcare
Asia is a popular haven that offers top medical facilities in the world. Healthcare in many countries is free or cheap. For example, the cost of a doctor’s visit in Thailand – a doctor working at one of the top hospitals in Asia and who was trained in the US – is a meager US $5. It is also common that some medications which may be prescription-only in your home country can easily and cheaply be acquired over the counter in Asia. Thanks to the high-quality care consorted with affordability, India and Thailand are the hotspots for medical tourism.
5). Lifestyle and Culture
You can live exponentially better in Asia for far lesser than living on a budget in any Western city. Given the high salaries that expats command, not only can you enjoy the perks of living in a world-class luxury condo with a pool, you can even afford to hire an army of maids and personal assistants to help you out, without breaking the bank in Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and even Singapore.
While being able to afford the very highest levels of service available, even eating out is cheap. For example, a dinner for 4 adults at a reputed Thai restaurant will cost you just 160 baht (~US $5).
Furthermore, there is less stress, more time to enjoy the things you really want to do, and more flexibility to be adventurous. Asia offers you freedom, both in terms of accessibility and affordability. This means it is easy to live the jet-set lifestyle; just hop on a plane and head off to a beautiful beach. For the cost of a ticket for a New York flight alone, you can enjoy an entire weeklong holiday. Not only is travel affordable, hotels are really cheap too. Between the lifestyle and the career benefits, it’s an unbeatable combo.
Asia is a large continent; you could visit it for a shorter period before committing to a full-fledged relocation. Unlike North America or Europe, there are hugely diverse cultures and ethnicities in every country. Hit a few countries and stay a little while in each place to get a feel for them before you establish which country to relocate to.
If you are willing to take the leap and create a lifestyle for yourself, one that satiates your wanderlust as well your career goals – consider moving to Asia. You can enjoy an adventure as well as experience the frontlines of global business in the continent’s budding cities.