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Switzerland > Articles


Interesting Facts about Life in Switzerland

Posted on Thursday April 04, 2013 (21:01:59)
The Swiss Alps
As counter-intuitive as it seems, Switzerland has always seemed to receive a bad reputation on account of the fact that it enjoys a high living standard. For evidence of this, we need look no further than Orson Welles' famous monologue in The Third Man (based upon similar comments made by the painter McNeill Whistler), in which he castigates the Swiss for "five hundred years of democracy and peace" that produced nothing more than "the cuckoo clock." The country's steadfast commitment to neutrality, even in times of great geo-political upheaval, is one clear source of such resentment - but whatever one's personal take is on such matters, it cannot be denied that the Swiss standard of living is easily among the world's best. The nation enjoys one of the world's highest life expectancies behind Japan, with the cities of Zurich and Geneva being ranked as the #2 and #8 cities in the world, respectively, for overall quality of life. The net worth of the average Swiss adult, meanwhile, is over 500,000 USD, even after their considerable portion of the national debt is figured into the picture.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Evaluating the Legal System in Singapore for Prospective Expats

Posted on Thursday April 04, 2013 (14:45:22)
Singapore Old Supreme Court
For Westerners, the intricacies of criminal justice in Southeast Asia can seem either baffling in their contradictions, or needlessly severe. As to the former, many will have difficulty understanding why a country like Thailand, notorious for the Bangkok 'sex tourism' industry, enforces a blanket ban on pornography. As to the latter, Singapore has become famous for its habit of meting out corporal punishment. Ever since the 1994 incident in which Michael Fay, the young scion of a multi-million dollar Ohio company's CEO, was sentenced to being lashed with a cane upon engaging in some vandalistic activities, the practice has become something of a cause célèbre in the West (with a majority of polled American recipients saying, to Fay's chagrin, that they approved of this punishment.) [i] Unfortunately for commentators who want to see this practice as a sort of uniquely "Singaporean" or "Asian" type of severity, corporal punishment and caning were first written into law during the British rule of the region.   more ...

Canada > Articles


Living as an Expat in the Northern Climes of Canada

Posted on Thursday April 04, 2013 (13:47:07)
Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland
Since at least 2009, in which a survey sponsored by HSBC determined that "expats in Canada have the best quality of life" and "found it among the easiest places in the world to integrate with the local population," [i] the nation has been glowing with pride. Canada, which probably shouldn't be blamed for acting in its own self-interest, is fond of promoting itself to the rest of the world as a shining beacon of social and technological advancement: something that is occasionally done with a bit of a 'nudge nudge, wink wink' implication that it is much better in these areas than its crazy and chaotic southern neighbor.

However, one has to be careful when speaking of Canada as a monolithic, mono-cultural entity, and prospective expats may not be able to just randomly choose any locale within this gigantic land mass and find themselves at home there. It has to be remembered, that nearly 90% of Canada's total population lives within 300 km of the border with the United States, with a full 60% of that population inhabiting either southern Ontario or southern Québec (even in southern Ontario, the weather can already be chilly enough in November, and all the way through mid-April, to necessitate several layers of clothing.) The only major metropolitan area outside of this 300 km (i.e. 500,000 inhabitants or more) is Edmonton in Alberta province.   more ...

Hong Kong > Articles

Hong Kong

A Detailed Look at the Education System in Hong Kong

Posted on Thursday April 04, 2013 (13:37:53)

The 'Special Administrative Region' of Hong Kong is special for more than the relative autonomy from mainland China that it enjoys. For one, it is one of the most densely populated territories on the planet. This situation has led to some of the most in-demand upscale residencies in the world (see Causeway Bay for more information on this score), and also to some of the most tightly compressed, labyrinthine low-income residences, like the now-demolished Kowloon Walled City. While, as a professional expat, you are much more likely to find housing in something like the former district than the latter, it is understandable that you might have other concerns besides just securing a living space.

Quality education in the region, though widely available, is still a highly coveted thing given the sheer number of residents: classroom sizes easily exceed the median class sizes in British or North American schools, and even as such there are still students who will miss out on the opportunity to attend the school of their choosing. Finding education for a child, or oneself, is something to 'get on' sooner than later if you plan to relocate to Hong Kong.   more ...

Malaysia > Articles


Meeting People in Malaysia: Socializing and Networking Options for Expats

Posted on Wednesday March 20, 2013 (23:36:43)

Though Malaysia is internationally ranked as one of the best nations in which to do business (noted elsewhere on this site), few individuals are such committed work-a-holics as to completely cut socializing out of their lives. Even those who are successful enough in their work to afford the best of the country's amenities may still desire camaraderie and the opportunity to view life from others' perspectives, and so socialization is a topic that can't be easily ignored.

Can the English Language be Relied Upon?

As language is more often than not a prerequisite for socializing, it's worth discussing the level of English-language saturation in the country. While finding fellow English language speakers in Kuala Lampur or Penang is not at all impossible, the percentage of such speakers in Malaysia are not even close to that of nearby Singapore, where some 80% of the population is conversant or fluent in English.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Expat Employment in Singapore - A Brief Overview

Posted on Monday March 18, 2013 (17:18:27)

The economy in Singapore has been based around its healthy status as a world trade hub since at least 1869, and its per capita income was one of the highest in Asia even before its 1965 declaration of independence from the British Empire. It is now classified as one of the four "Asian Tiger" economies along with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, and is certainly comparable in living standard to the non-"Tiger" of Japan. A low rate of corruption, its significant foreign reserves, and its unparalleled international credit rating (it is the only nation in Asia to rate a 'AAA' from the three major credit agencies) all add up to a nation that looks to remain economically robust for many years to come.

Compared to the other "Tiger" nations, foreign-born professionals in Singapore make up a surprising amount of its total workforce (estimates have ranged in recent years from 39% to 45%.) Expat professionals in the modern age have valued Singapore not only for the relative ease of living that comes from such a low-crime, affluent environment, but also because this environment provides a springboard for knowledge about the greater Asian region, along with plenty of networking opportunities within that region. Entry into Singaporean professional life is also helped by the fact that English usage and fluency here are more prevalent than in the other "Tiger" nations.   more ...

Malaysia > Articles


The Cost of Living in Malaysia

Posted on Monday March 18, 2013 (16:35:47)

With an employment rate that vacillates between 95-97%, and a low poverty rate that mirrors this state of near-total employment, the outlook for Malaysian quality of life is generally very positive. The World Bank has deemed it as the #1 nation for providing access to credit, as well as fourth overall for "protecting investors," which has made it, consequently, twelfth in the world for "ease of doing business."

The nation's openness to trans-national trade, and the economic benefits that this has garnered, can hardly be questioned. Yet many will still wonder whether this translates into a high cost of living, since Malaysia is not, after all, the only booming economy in Asia or the world. Though the country is acknowledged as an "upper middle income" nation by the World Bank, the question remains as to whether this equates to getting value for one's money.   more ...

United Kingdom > Articles

United Kingdom

Expat Socializing and Networking in London

Posted on Monday March 18, 2013 (15:58:47)

With over fifteen million citizens residing in the London metro area, and with the second largest immigrant population behind New York City also residing here, it would seem that London is far better served for expatriate socializing opportunities than most cities in the world. Indeed, its non-indigenous population comprises some 50 different ethnic enclaves, and means that one can hear around 300 different languages being spoken within the city boundaries.

Pubs: the Original Social Network

In a widely read Guardian editorial attacking the nascent online newtworking culture, columnist Tom Hodgkinson claimed to "despise" Facebook, while wondering what was wrong with the traditional London networking forum, "the pub." Hodgkinson probably speaks for millions of Londoners who would prefer the ambience of their local watering hole to the routine checking of Facebook updates.   more ...

Canada > Articles


Schooling in Canada: What to Expect

Posted on Monday March 18, 2013 (15:55:21)

Public education in Canada is free of charge for all citizens, though "free" should not be taken to mean - as it often can - a product or service of poor quality. In 2010, the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] ranked Canada favorably among the rest of the industrialized world, with several Canadian provinces lagging only behind the Shanghai province for global reading proficiency. The nation as a whole placed 6th in the world - well ahead of the U.S. or U.K. - after data from the OECD's International Student Assessment was collected (notably, it achieved this while spending far less money per pupil than either of those nations.) To put it simply, even state education in the country is nothing to scoff at, and some provincial initiatives - such as having a maximum number of students allowed per classroom teacher - aim at maintaining this standard through resolute measures.   more ...

Singapore > Articles


Rest and Relaxation, Singapore Style

Posted on Sunday March 17, 2013 (23:57:10)
A beach in Singapore
With the city-state of Singapore being one of the most successful financial centers in the world, it should almost go without saying that there is a vibrant social and cultural life within its confines, and that it is by no means off limits to expatriates. Being one of the most heavily trafficked seaports in Asia has meant a great deal of expatriate traffic through the country, making it not at all difficult to get on with the business of forging friendships and tending to those activities that exist outside of the workplace.

Social Life in a 'Hot and Humid' Environment

One thing that expats from the colder climes of the U.K., the northern U.S., and Canada will notice about Singapore is its persistent tropical weather, and particularly the bearing that can have on social life and leisure time activities. As the humidity and heat ratchet up, most non-Asians will want to seek out the better-ventilated venues in Singapore. The Tiong Bahru Food Market and Hawker Centre is one option here, an outdoor food court (not at all to be compared to those found in U.S. shopping malls) that caters more to an expatriate crowd and allows one to both shop for necessities and to socialize in the spacious common dining areas.   more ...