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Talk to me about moving to Middle East or other "exotic" but well paid location.

(97 Posts)
MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 00:15:38

We are thinking about our next move and are very tempted by the tales of expats who have lived somewhere for 3 - 5 years and earned enough to buy a house back home in that time.

I have been an expat all my adult life, but in Germany/Switzerland. DH has been here in CH with me for 3 years.

He may be moved back to Germany (or elsewhere) within the next year and we have been talking about trying something completely different. There are options in his company to do this, or he would consider moving to a different job. He is in finance.

We are both able to cope with being away from family and friends, like travelling and seeing new places. The DC are pretty open to new ideas. They are trilingual English/German/French.

I would be willing to go anywhere that is not dangerous. I am aware that there is no guarantee, but obviously some countries are more stable than others.

Any ideas?

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 01:02:17

Highly recommend Asia atm, maybe HK or SG if he's in finance. Salaries are fab and if you get a good package, you can make a lot of money. I'm in Thailand now and will return home after 2-3 years with mortgage in uk paid off and a lot of money in the bank, plus the benefit of a really amazing life whilst here.

empirestateofmind Wed 03-Aug-11 01:21:57

I am in SG. The trouble with HK and SG is the high cost of house rentals. A good sized house with off street parking that is fairly central in SG is around SGD10,000 PCM (which is GBP 5000). Also school fees are expensive. Many companies now are putting expats on to local terms- things are not as easy as a few years ago. I would say that while the way of life is very nice it is very hard for most expats to make any money here at the moment.

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 03:02:47

True - forget about returning rich if you are on local terms in pretty much any market in Asia. The key is having a package that provides:

1. A decent accomodation allowance that affords you good quality housing
2. Private schooling, including any "deposits" or "development funds" that are mandatory to get a place, and can be eye-watering
3. Good home leave packages - ie enough return trips to home that you don't end up spending a fortune yourself, and if possible can be transferred tpo family members coming to visit - some companies even provide for home leave rental to allow you to rent somewhere as a short term let to stay for the summer break, for example
4. Wealth management advice to allow you to take advantage of any potential tax benefits, pension arrangements etc
5. Good health and insurance cover - medical costs can be equally eye-watering, even if hospitals are like 5-star hotels, with incredible standards of care and treatment.
6. Good cost of living adjustment factor - to account for expensive food etc

So far my company still provides all of the above, even in SG, which we are now talking to them about as the next move, but its true to say that a lot of companies are massively scaling back on what they offer

Bubbaluv Wed 03-Aug-11 03:48:56

HK seems to be the place to be for banking at the mo. My husband regularly gets open offers for jobs there.
If you get a good package then the tax benefits coupled with the good salaries and big bonuses can make it v lucrative.
Would be a bit of a culture/climate shock though I'd have thought!

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 10:20:19

Thanks, that is all food for thought.

We are on a good expat package here, so aware that that is absolutely necessary. House prices are similar in Switzerland to HK. Our DC go to local school here but I know that they would have to go to International School if we move somewhere where this would not be an option.

I hadn't thought about Far East, but it would be an option.

H is in finance, but within a multinational company, so not really banking. He has a banking background so is pretty versatile.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 03-Aug-11 10:26:39

What empire and the boss said. And for hong kong double the rent. Mind boggling at the moment. Not to mention the year long waitlists for good schools and hefty debentures.
The tax break is great of course but consider that tax schemes in this industry are aften tied to deferred bonuses which not always paid cash. So that can tie you up to a shit job unless you can rebound on a great new package with garanteed bonus.
Dont mean to put you off, we absolutely love asia and the lifestyle is fabulous. But its hard work for everyone at the moment and singapore has largely caught up with HK in terms of inflationist bubbles.

allhailtheaubergine Wed 03-Aug-11 10:34:38

I dunno, I think that bubble has burst tbh.

We are in the ME. Certainly 5 - 7 years ago the streets were paved with gold, but saving enough for a house in 3 - 5 years now? Not so much. I guess it depends what your husband does and how successful at it he is.

Obviously the salaries are bloody good. We earn about 3 X what we would in UK, and that's tax free. We have a nice lifestyle. It's expensive living here though. Again though, that depends on how you want to do it; we have friends who rent the tiniest box, spend next to nothing and save every penny they can. That's fine because it works for them. Equally there are people who rent bloody great villas with pools, drive Hummers, have staff, and save nothing. We are somewhere in the middle. I like to live in a nice house and I enjoy the perks of expat life (a cleaner, a shared pool), but we still have 2nd hand cars, shop in the sales, and save what we can.

allhailtheaubergine Wed 03-Aug-11 10:38:27

There's just so many extras. Some are included in a package, but increasingly they are not.

School fees (payable a year in advance)
Medical insurance
Things not covered by medical insurance
Flights home
Unplanned flights home
Booze licence
Utilities deposit
Rent (payable a year in advance)
Club fees
Residency fees
Visa fees

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 10:59:11

Yes, bit worried about that, Allhail. Particularly with the financial meltdown that some doom and gloomers are predicting.

He is quite frustrated in his current job, and the idea would be to save enough to give us a bit of independence, then perhaps start own business on return.

Even being able to save £100k would mean financial independence for us.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 03-Aug-11 11:15:34

I would still certainly say explore your options.

There ARE more and better jobs on offer in financial services on this side of the world.
However, in Sg & Hk at least, the mighty reign of the expat is long gone and they are increasingly recruiting local/Indian talent at entry/mid level positions.

If your DH is 15 year+ senior management then there are still very good packages around.

Look into the tax situation carefully, that's where the endgame is if you are looking to build up a lump sum in the next 3-5 years.

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 13:06:45

Don't forget the upside of a really interesting life experience as well, for the whole family. Dd speaks Thai now alongside her two native languages, which isn't exactly the most versatile language, but, hey, she's developed what I hope will be a lifelong interest and ability in languages. Plus she swims like a fish because we're lucky enough to have a pool we can swim in year round. Plus a nanny and housekeeper makes for a nice life for me.

Forgot to mention cars, ours is supplied with driver by our company, which saves us a lot.

Wine is v expensive a poor quality though, which is a total bummer. And life here can be a bit uncultured, no theatre, ballet, opera, all of which I enjoy.

And the whole bloody world wants to come and stay!

allhailtheaubergine Wed 03-Aug-11 13:09:30

Ahh well if you will live in Thailand TheBoss. If you live in the ME no bugger ever comes to see you!

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 13:24:26

There is an upside to the constant stream of visitors, and by constant, I mean 18 visitors in as many months. They can keep you supplied in duty free wine, jars of marmite, branston and picallili!

Another downside is that expat life here is small, very few of us left here from the uk, so I miss shared cultural references a lot. So visitors hav uses there as well.

All hail, wtf is an alcohol license????

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 13:38:36

We are used to having a lot of visitors. And I have been an expat so long that the only thing I still import is PG Tipps. May be different in an area where Western foodstuff is not so easy to get though.

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 13:50:47

You can buy most western stuff, albeit at a price. But, honestly, local food here is really delicious, so we've learned to cook it ourselves, which helps keep the food bill down.

Yy to bringing pg tips, though, Thai tea is rank and imported is v.expensive.

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 13:51:31

And a lot of expats just get their home help to cook, personally I love doing it myself.

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 13:53:27

That is what we do here - just cook using Swiss ingredients and don't fuss about getting the exact same things that we would use at home. It helps that I can cook, I know a lot of the Americans who come over here and are used to using preprepared food find it very difficult.

TheBossofMe Wed 03-Aug-11 15:31:24

Can you tell I love living in Asia????

It's worth considering, for sure

Kiwinyc Wed 03-Aug-11 19:43:50

Qatar is very stable, I would also consider Abu Dhabi. With the right package and allowances, it can be very financially beneficial.

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 20:12:54

Ok. Next question.

Where do we start?

Is there a particular personal consultant for certain countries? Where are these jobs advertised?

TheBride Wed 03-Aug-11 21:19:13

Just want to add re HK, I'm not sure if you based your comment that Swiss house prices are similar to HK house prices on the comment by Empire re Sing and HK, but HK prices are much higher than Sing (and Switzerland)- they are 2 x central London. A three bed apartment in a good area of the island goes for upwards of £7000 pcm, and that's not a big apartment (3 smallish bedrooms, 1 reception, galley kitchen). You can live on the mainland/one of the outlying islands for less, but it's a very different experience.

Re your DH's job, basically if he's doing a finance role in industry, he'll need an expat package which covers rent and schools to have a flying chance to save anything. A few people I know have left HK this summer because with rents and school fees they are eating into savings to stay here on a local package. However, the problem with industry (as opposed to banking) roles is that

1. There's more competition from local hires- the skills transfer has been very successful, unlike, eg, Dubai.
2. There's more requirement for Cantonese/Mandarin (although he may get away with not speaking Canto at CFO level, it would still be hugely preferred, so he'd be at a disadvantage to a local hire).

Re schools, local (free) schools not really an option. It's not so much the language (it's in Cantonese) as the culture. It is very much 'sit in rows and face the front'/ focus on rote learning/ copying Chinese characters). Not even my crunchiest friends send their kids to the local schools.

Dont want to come across as negative, and realise that I probably am. Just trying to give you a realistic picture. HK is a very very expensive city, even with tax at 15%. Therefore, if saving money is your priority, I'd look at Dubai.


ps re how to get these jobs= head hunters. Most of the good ones won't be advertised.

MmeLindor. Wed 03-Aug-11 22:06:15

Thanks, TheBride.

Yes, I realise that without a expat package it will not be possible. The rents are not quite as high here in Geneva but it is a similar situation.

TheBossofMe Thu 04-Aug-11 05:22:35

Hmm - in my instance it was an intercompany transfer where another region effectively internally headhunted me (once I'd sown some subtle seeds in conversation about being open to transfer).

So maybe your husbands HR dept is a good starting point if he works for a multinat - work out what markets they have opcos in that are of interest and go from there

And in my industry, most of the big headhunters recruit internationally as well as locally, so maybe talk to the equivalents in his industry

TheBossofMe Thu 04-Aug-11 05:26:13

And Thailand is loads cheaper - I live in a 500sqm 5 bed apartment with space for live-in home help, all en-suite, beautifully decorated, furnished etc, for about 2.5k pm sterling (which the company pays anyway)!

Come to Thailand - it rocks!

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