September 19th, 2011
04:08 AM GMT
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(CNN) – "Suck it up cry-babies," writes Jeff in response to a CNN blog about the squeeze on international school places in Hong Kong.

"So your company (probably a bank that we bailed out) is paying for your rock-star home, Bentley, and live-in Philippino [sic] but can't get you into that "rich-kid" school??? Bummer, oh well, at least you are living in a place where you have zero expenses," he says.

I can hear the collective sigh of expat families around the world. Oh, if only.

There was a time when most international postings came with an automatic business class ticket and an all-expenses paid relocation package.

Rent was picked up on arrival as were membership fees for exclusive clubs. Schooling was paid for. Oh, and flights were laid on for holidays home. Throw in a nanny perhaps and you had yourself a deal.

Of course, that still happens, but only for the elite few. Many expats are more immersed in the local culture by virtue that they're earning local wages.

School woes for expats in Hong Kong

Sure, they are decent wages - why else move? - but they are certainly not enough to fund the "rock-star home" and "rich-kid" school Jeff refers to.

As flippertie points out in his or her comment: "We're not all spoilt currency traders and the like – there are plenty of journalists, designers, musicians, programmers, accountants etc earning a normal local salary, with none of the fancy expat benefits who are being squeezed out of the system."

Maybe terminology is to blame for the misconception. The managing director of relocation specialists ECA International recently said as much, calling the word "expatriates" misleading and outdated.

The word "expatriate," Ian Ridgwell wrote, "carries with it all the old connotations of privilege, easy money, private clubs and private schooling. In today's global world, where international moves are commonplace, this image is increasingly seen as outdated, expensive and even damaging."

Damaging, the company says, because it creates false expectations that an international move will come packaged with perks.

"In some 'expatriate' receiving countries the word has also become synonymous with a perceived lifestyle unavailable to local employees," he added.

In these austere times, companies are becoming so concerned about the need to manage expectations down that they're changing their vocabulary.

Out goes the word "expatriates," in comes "assignees."

The message from companies: Just because you're moving countries don't expect serious perks.

Unless, of course, you're bringing in serious money for the company. In that case, hello yacht club, goodbye rent.

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Filed under: Business

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Deirdre

    As one of those (with my husband) – we're making local wages, 6 hours away from a metro, in a developing country. No nannies, spas, fancy schools... Nor are we getting "luxuries" like Nutella, any other type of meat but chicken & goat, or even phenomenally reliable internet. More and more people are leaving their home countries for the experiences and not the paychecks. I've worked in international relocation, and even the relocation benefits themselves are shrinking and offered to fewer and fewer people.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  2. power4things

    Bulk of ex-pats are living in a foriegn country for one reason – jobs. Many companies use overseas transfer to weed employees for layoffs – "Sudan or you're fired" ... these ex-pats ("assignees") are barely getting their US salary and very few "perks".

    September 19, 2011 at 5:50 am |
  3. Kone Zi

    In finance, you still have a lot of people living like a typical pampered expat even with company-paid dry cleaning. I know people making $250000 a year in HK. Sure they are many who don't live like that. For the most part, most expats who came on an international assignment from company transfer get compensated very well. One friend I know who came to Beijing and still earned her U. S. salary, plus additional allowance for housing, transportation, etc. So we all know she came out far ahead. Even in manufacturing, expat employees live very well. People I know living in Europe gets generous rent allowance paid by their companies that would make the locals envy (1200 to 2000 euros a month in a city where the average rent is 500 to 600).

    Of course, there are also the people who don't work for a large multi-national company. They some times do better or worse than the locals.
    Though those who come for the company transfer job should not whine about not getting their kids into private schools. If their kids are smart enough, any type of decent schooling will do. Otherwise, with dumb kids, no amount of private school is going to make them genius.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:11 am |
  4. MucMuc

    Kone Zi,

    the problem isn't getting kids into THE school, it's getting them into A school!! The local system is in Cantonese, and while schools are open to everyone, most of them refuse to take non-cantonese speaking students, as they don't speak the language and would be lagging behind. Any other school is considered a "private" school, and the ESF (English Schools Foundation), which was established as affordable english-speaking school for us that don't make buckets of money is so oversubscribed that some cannot even take siblings of their existing students – much less new intakes!
    Next step are proper "private" schools, but only if you have US$300,000 for a non-refundable debenture (think that as an entry fee), plus US $10k of yearly school fees. And that's not even the most expensive school. Believe me, for some of us "spoilt" expats, home-schooling is starting to sound like a plausible option...

    September 19, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  5. Emily

    We are Americans living in Doha, Qatar, as "expats." My husband is a mechanical engineer, and when his job (actually, several in succession) in the auto industry was illuminated, he could take a job with a 25% pay cut in America, or we could come to the middle east, where he would work for a British company, making exactly the same pay as he did in his last position. We DO NOT get paid flights home (and it cost more than $6000 for the three of us to fly back to the US this summer to visit family), and while we do get a housing allowance, we are still paying more than DOUBLE out of pocket for rent here as we did for our American mortgage (Oh, which we are still paying after a year– because of the US housing market we haven't been able to sell our old home). This does not allow us a lavish mansion, but a modest four-bed villa in a compound. We drive a Ford Escape and a Mini that had two previous owners. Yes, we had HOPED to be able to save some money by living mostly tax-free, but almost a year in, we have not been able to save anything, between continuing to pay our aforementioned mortgage and the high cost of living here– and all are friends are in the same boat. Mostly, we came for the experience– and so that our young daughter could live in the middle east, learn Arabic, and see for herself that Arabs and Muslims are not the devils so many people in our home country claim.

    September 19, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  6. Nikhil

    I am an Indian expat living in HK. I have never been offered the perks I read above. Sure I know a lot of people here who get these. However, as a recruiter, I did see those very people losing jobs or converting to neo-local salaries when the recession hit. The trend continues. We continue to hire 'expats' for sheer experience and knowledge that they bring. However they come at local-plus salaries. The plus might mean a markup of about 20% to address the face these 'expats' need to spend more to live the life they are used to i.e. groceries etc. As an expat I also expect my kids to go to a good school (which parent does not?). However I would want to know WHAT my kids are learning. And I can only get that if I can communicate with the teachers and my kids in English. Challenge is most local schools do not teach in English language. Hence the need for international schools. Plus as an 'expat' I do tend to move countries. What happens to continuity of education for my kids then? Hence the need.

    Oh... and I do get paid more than the locals. But regardless of when I am, I will get the same amount... even in my home country. Thats what globalisation is about...

    September 19, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  7. Eric

    Kindergarten teacher here in the middle east...with 5 years of teaching under my belt, I make $70k, have subsidized housing, free recreation facilities, free schooling for my 3 kids, and paid flights home every year, and have tax free income to save. Go back to the states and work for $35k and pay taxes to boot on that? No thanks. I'm happy to take this and work hard for it. It's nice when the teachers do well and the bankers have to whine about their lives for a while.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  8. Kyle H. Davis

    Sorry, but... the vast majority of "expats" I have seen (China), may not be living with a nanny or going to private clubs... but they sure are not living off of a "local salary". For someone to say "Sure, they are decent wages – why else move?“, when a local salary is 7 times lower than what they have at home... that's just a little crazy.

    Obviously the salary is going to afford them a LOCAL comfortable lifestyle, but using the old "why else move" argument, for a person making a LOCAL salary, is irrational. Anyone who says "why else move", when it comes to China, is making 7 times a local salary.

    I make a "local salary" 4,500元 a month which is above average for average cities in China; and which is far above the per capita GDP. NOBODY is looking at that salary ($700 a month), which is far below the poverty line in the US, and saying to themselves "Sure, they are decent wages... why else move?"

    September 19, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  9. Amit Kar

    The term 'expatriate' covers a wide range of diverse people from all socio-economic levels of society. They have one thing in common: they all have the courage and sense of adventure required to move themselves and their families to the other side of the world in the pursuit of gainful employment and opportunity. People who are willing to do this are a small, small minority and they are hardly cry-babies.

    September 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  10. LYNZ

    I am a Canadian expat that has been living in the Middle East for almost 10 years. Since graduating, I have noticed that 80% of my graduating class (I took Graphic Design) are not able to find decent jobs in their fields in Ontario. These are extremely talented people who are now working retail and any other job just to make ends meet. I moved over here to ensure that I can save (and not be taxed to death) and stay in my beloved field of work. While I do receive annual tickets home, I do not get any other perks that have been mentioned above. There definitely are bankers and other elite expats that do get all the 'perks' but on the other hard there are many expats that are here just to earn a decent living in their field of expertise as options are limited in our home country. Also its great to meet and learn different cultures and you realise how boxed in people are with their views of the Middle East back home.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  11. Eleuterio dela Vega

    I'm a Filipino expat in HK and I am among many professional Filipino expats in the region. Definitely the pay is much higher in Hong Kong than back home. As as twist, I have an American nanny who was looking for for work when she was in Manila. There are countless Americans who work in Asia for a lower salary than their minimum wage back home due to simple economics. But I would like to add one thing as Amit Kar mentions. The word "expat" is not anymore synonymous to the typical white European or north American working overseas, but for the millions of Africans, Asians and East Europeans who work as professionals or 'white collar workers' for big companies.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  12. Charles P. Cunanan

    I'm also a Filipino and I think the reporter of this article refers to EXPATS as only white overseas workers which is misleading. I'm a Filipino engineer based in Kuwait and in Saudi Arabia for the past 15 years. Most of my colleagues teach American and Canadian engineers on practical techniques. The Middle Eastern oil industry was basically built on the ingenuity, perseverance and hard work of millions of Filipinos, laborers and professionals. Many of the American/Canadian expats are pampered though and get triple our salaries although we do a better job than them.

    It is a fact that many infrastructures in the Middle East and Asia were done by Filipino engineers which CNN should focus too on. Iba ang Pinoy!

    September 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. Kyle H. Davis

    Sorry Charles, but you are combining two things and coming up with quite a skewed perception. While I am QUITE sure that Philippine laborers have built a great deal, it does not equate to engineering. Do you seriously expect the rest of the world to believe that the "Oil engineering ingenuity" of the Philippines (which represents 0.01% of the worlds oil production), surpasses that of FOUR of the top ten oil producing nations on the planet? (You mentioned Kuwait (#10), Saudi Arabia (#2), US (#3), and Canada (#6)).

    If ANYTHING, it is engineers and developers from THOSE nations, telling Philippine laborers how to do the manual labor installs.

    Look, I'm not trying to knock the Philippines, I've traveled there many times and think it is one of the nicest places on the planet (I'm also related through marriage)... however... Your example would be like claiming that Mexican's are responsible for the hotel industry in the US, because they represent a large amount of the staff, or that Chinese are responsible for the technical ingenuity of Apple Industries.

    September 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  14. Primo Relocations London

    From our experience a pampered lifestyle is pretty rare for expats in London. Many global clients offer fair allowances to their staff and are keen for them to be as comfortable as possible. But extra frills have been victims of what we cal the recession mentality. Nobody is spending money frivolously anymore.

    September 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  15. dj-MD

    So, as if trying to prove Jeff's point, Hilary cries about the conditions under which she lives! Ha! ANYONE privileged enough to live in Hong Kong (and not in the conditions of the low-income locals) should thank their lucky stars! Hong Kong is a beautiful, exciting place to live, but it is VERY expensive. Most people in America couldn't begin to afford to live there. So Hilary is being heavily subsidized to be there. And she thinks she has a right to complain?!?!? What a cry baby!

    September 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  16. Tom T.

    This is a comment to Kyle. I work in Oil and Gas in Asia and have been here for 20 years. If you go to the middle east and look at the oil and gas industry, there are zero Arabs working in Oil and Gas and all Philipino, India and Pakistani doing everything for them. Don't misunderstand me, a place like the UAE might be run by Arabs, but they are not the engineers, they do not get involved. Same in Oman, Yemen, Saudi etc.

    I was just in Dubai and all of the Architects I met in during my stay were from Manila. I just could not understand where the Arab architects worked, but in the end was told, there are none.

    So maybe what that guy Charles was saying had some truth to it. There are millions of college educated Philippinos in Asia and the Middle East doing all the work (Not the banking industry work), and not being considered an Expat. They are also not making as much as the American's and the Canadians who do the same job. I think that was his point and it was a fairly valid point.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  17. Neil Cassidy

    There are far fewer expat packages provided in Shanghai these days. If you want to work here–and are not at the very top level of your company–you better be able to speak fluent Mandarin. Localization is the name of the game. All of the MNC's basically only hire locals-they're cheaper.

    September 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  18. Kyle H. Davis

    Tom. (Respectfully) Unless the Philippines is simply churning out engineers for this type of work, I find it quite inconceivable that they somehow dominate over nations that 1) have far more experience in oil production 2) have higher education standards. I mean, are we supposed to believe that the Philippines are churning out more engineer graduates than Saudi Arabia? But let's take those middle-east hosts out of the picture and simply focus on what Charles was saying. The US, with over 150 years experience, and the 3rd largest oil producing nation, compared with the Philippines, a developing nation? Come now. Their first oil company was founded in 1959. The US had oil companies working in the Philippines before they founded their first. I'm not saying ANYTHING about the abilities of the Philippine people. But what he is asking us to believe is that the US and Canadian engineers are like children, in which the Philippine engineers need to hold their hands.

    Again, that would be like asking me to believe that Alaska was turning out more banana farmers than the Philippines, and that the Philippine farmers have no idea what they are doing.

    And, as it pertains to the levels of income... Yep, I can believe it. That is what I was trying to point out in the first comment. Expats (who say "Sure, they are decent wages – why else move?"), are making salaries that reflect the cost of living within their own nation. The Philippine workers might not be making the same salary (in Saudi Arabia), but what it equates to back home is pretty dang good. Do I think it is "fair"... sure – if they compare it to what that salary equates to back home. Not many expats are living in those other nations under the idea that they will spend the rest of their lives there.

    In other words – Is it fair to give a salary to a Philippine worker that will allow him to live in a mansion in Cebu, while the same salary will only allow an American to have a simple home in the suburbs of Cincinnati?

    September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  19. Em

    As someone who actually grew up in HK, going through the international school system and what not (my own family being of the expat type), there definitely were the "rich kids and families with perks" that is discussed in the article above. But for the most part, as mentioned in a comment, there really isn't much choice if you don't speak Cantonese. Also, it seemed to me during my school years in HK that many of my fellow classmates who were rich (and I mean RICH) were the nouveau riche of HK and were not in fact, expat children. I definitely had a better standard of living than most HK locals (living on the HK side, for example) but it's not fair to classify all expats as well-off. Especially after SARS and the economic crisis in 2008, the economy in HK slowed drastically and there were many sacrifices that needed to be made that may not seem obvious to a person who ascribes expats as wealthy.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  20. ScrnName

    The key factor is cost of living, so a blanket portrayal of "expats" as jet-set private school whiners simply doesn't fly. (BTW, at what income level does an "expat" become a dirty job-stealing immigrant?)
    In some countries, expat professionals may make less compared to U.S. peers, but can still afford a much nicer lifestyle than the locals (to the author's point). In others, they need a 40% cost of living increase just to afford a 2-bdrm apartment.
    In Tokyo, I had friends who lived in tiny studio apartments for $900 a month, just like locals. In Taipei, you could have a similar place for 1/2 as much; in Thailand 1/10th. Or, if you work for a tech company in Taipei you could pay a Bay Area-standard $1400 a month for a massive deluxe apartment w/free parking & memberships to the basement pool & tennis courts while living next door to Taiwanese movie stars. Compare that to your crap 2-bdrm in Silicon Valley. My relatives in Dubai have a nice little house (they can never legally own) that costs twice as much as my CA rent, and they won't be retiring any time soon. How far would that cash go in the States? Again, depends on location, so you can't generalize. The point is that just because you're living & working in another country it doesn't automatically ensure you a country club lifestyle & early retirement.

    September 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  21. Kyle H. Davis

    ScrnName: You are 100% right, cost of living is a major factor in the way we view expats. But I think this article was focusing on those who move to a nation with a much lower cost of living. In other words, nobody with a family is going to move to China/Thailand/India/Africa for a "local salary" and live an equal lifestyle of a common Chinese/Thai/Indi/African person. It' s just not happening. It is the expats in those nations that push that stereotype... and from what I have seen, the stereotype is more common than not.

    And on another note – Your relatives in Dubai may pay twice as much for housing, but their savings are probably worth twice as much as well.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  22. Tom T.

    Kyle you missed my point entirely. I was referring to Philippinos and not to Philippine owned oil and gas companies.

    But are their more Philippino Engineers in Asia and Middle East compared to Europeans, yes I would say most definately. There are over 2 million Philippinos who work in the middle East and Asia. Over 70% have at least a college degree. While they may appear to be the maids and laborers of Asia to most people, they are actually just desperate for a job and willing to move anywhere to work. For this reason they are paid a lot less.

    Any project in Dubai, from Oil and gas to construction, to Architecture and Design is dominated by Philippinos for this reason.

    They may not have any real infastruction in their own country for oil and gas, but I can tell you they make up for it outside from Indonesia to Saudi.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  23. Tom T.

    Also, have you ever met an Arab Engineer? Or an Arab Architect or Doctor? I have not, and would be interested in those that have during their Expat experience in the Middle East and in Asia?

    I have met plenty of Chinese Engineers, Doctors and Architects, but no one from the Middle East. I believe this the root of the problem. In the Middle East, they bring in the talent from outside to do everything from Cutting grass, building roads, to building buildings, to running businesses and hospitals. The locals don't have to "work"

    September 20, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  24. CHMike

    Highly paid professionals tend to live well, regardless of whether they are working in their home country or abroad. "Expat" packages are certainly not what they once were, unless your skills command that extra compensation, in which case you would likely be highly paid and living well above "local" standards even if you were working in your country of citizenship.

    These days most multi-national companies have a preference for local hires and, all things being equal (education, experience, certifications), will pay commensurate salary and benefits to both local and foreign experts and executives. This is true not just in "first world" countries, but also in emerging economies like Thailand, Brazil, India, China, etc.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:17 am |
  25. Richard Reddy

    I have been an "expat" for 27 years, lived in many island countries in the N. Pacific, including the American islands of Guam & Saipan. Where decent schools were not available, we home schooled the kids.

    We've lived in Zhuhai, China (means "City of Lovers"), next to Macao, for the past 7 years. For several years, I worked for a Hong Kong Company, but we lived in Zhuhai, a fishing town, an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong on the China mainland. That may seem far from HK, but, you can easily get stuck in HK traffic for an hour or more. I have seen the HK population more than double since 1985, yet, the road system has remained the same size because there's no room to enlarge it.

    We took advantage of the local wage scale, as Kyle pointed out, as we got paid in US$. There are International schools here, but we saw no advantage in paying US$ 20,000/chld/year. Instead, we took advantage to the opportunity to enroll the kids in a private Chinese school for about $1,000/yr/child. They had 1 course/day in English, the rest were in Chinese. We had tutors for them on weekends to teach Chinese. Sure, the first couple of years were tough, but, today, the kids have finished school and are fluent in English & Chinese. We thought that was an advantage an expensive International School could not offer, either in HK or Zhuhai.

    We did not get piad plane tickets, housing, maids, etc. but have lived very well because of the salery differential. We could have lived in Hong Kong but chose not to because itis too crowded, too expensive, people are too much in a hurry and the square foorage of decent housing is too small. In Zhuhai, we have a modern ("luxery" vs. Chinese standards) condo that is 3 times the average size in HK & cost about 90% less. Sure, it takes an hour to get to HK by boat, but it can take that long or more to move around HK. Besides, I enjoy the ferry ride, it was an interesting and a refreshing, relaxing part of my day before I retired.

    I am retired now, & we still stay in Zhuhai. In addition to the financial differential (US$ vs. RMB), the food is excellant, meat, seafood & vegetables fresh from the dock & farmers' market, the people are friendly, there is no crime, no one is in a hurry, everyone is helpful. We still go to HK when we want to and can walk to Macau when we want to take a stroll & experience a change in lifestyle from the Chinese mainland.

    The "cry-babies" are trying to catch smoke in their hands. Perhaps 25 yrs. ago, life in HK was the way they imagine it to be now, but no longer. They should focus the opportunities they have avaIlable instead of focusing on what they don't have. One cannot live an American life style in other countries, but one can take advantage of the life style other countries offer.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  26. thehungryegghead

    I just moved to Hong Kong with my husband. And while his salary is significantly higher than the locals it is the same as his salary in New York. We do not have having housing allowance, plane tickets home, etc. We came here to experience Hong Kong and so far we are really enjoying it. However, it is also really expensive. In Hong Kong there is good quality and bad quality, not much in between. For good quailty items you pay double the price you would have paid in the USA, for bad quality items you pay less than 1/2 the cost in the USA. I just wish there were more middle of the road items here.
    Example: My dyson fan is $530USD, in the USA it would be $250 USD.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:48 am |
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  28. Kyle H. Davis

    Tom: I understand, but Charles went a little further than that. I understand that there may be MORE, but sheer numbers does not equate to "engineering omnipotence" which is the other view that Charles tacked onto his comment. If I wanted to become an engineer in the oil industry, I do believe I would choose a Saudi university to teach me those skills, over a Philippine university. Now, if you want to say that Philippine people are educated by Saudis... then Charles' comment turns into him saying that Philippine people are intellectually superior. Either way, the generalization does not float.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  29. Susie

    Hmm... Even in the seventies/eighties, not all expats were on rock-star salaries. Else my parents would've been rolling in it.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  30. Paul

    Not all Expats are white collar VP's making tons of money. Many like me are contractors who, Have No Company Retirement, No company 401(k), No matching funds, and we cannot open an IRA with tax free income. Yes, our income is tax free, so there are some benefits, but not everyone makes 100K+ working overseas. You make more money, where it's the most dangerous, so danger does count for something, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The U.S. Congress is always looking to tax us as they too think we make millions of dollars. When we travel as has been mentioned in earlier posts, it does cost. Hotels, food and travel, air travel or car rentals are not cheap, especially in the Middle East. One Kuwaiti dollar equals three U.S. dollars. That my friend is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the reality of the overseas worker.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  31. bubblex

    it vares ildly from company to ompany and sometmes country. My "great" opportunity to relocate to francemeant livng on 1/4 my salary. Some f it was to be mae up in tax breas later, some at the end of assignment, Unfortunately could not afford the cut

    September 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  32. Silvana

    It always saddens me to read those articles. Unfortunately they are often one sided. It is quite easy to write these articles sitting at a desk in London, New York or Zurich. I have been an expat wife for nearly 25 years. Indeed, there are expats who are very pampered but by far not everybody. We always had to pay a substantial contribution towards our rent. Yes, we did have a car and a few perks but nothing to write home about. As for the live-in Philippino maid one has to take into consideration that nowadays they are poor women with (usually) little education trying to help the family. We also had a few Philippino maids, some good ones and others who were dishonest. Still, my goal was always to make sure that whenever they returned home they not only had enough money but had also had learned as much as possible. One should “teach somebody to fish”, i.e. “Give someone a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach someone to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
    Life as a trailing spouse is far from easy, although it appears to be. You leave your career, your friends, your family and your country behind you for many years. You are always a guest in the country you live, you have no voice. Also, husbands usually travel a lot and you are just left on your own in this “golden cage”. You make friends and after one or two years they are transferred to another country. I could go on and on. In conclusion, there are many good aspects being an expat but there are as many negative ones and each one of us had to learn to live with it and be strong. Not everybody succeeded. Cry babies? Who likes to have their toys taken away?

    September 22, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  33. HKer

    We live in Hong Kong with 3 children. We pay for our own apartment, we pay for our own schooling, and we don't get plane tickets to go home. We employ one helper. Do we feel sorry for ourselves? No. We choose to live here, because we believe it's better to be in Asia now than it is in Europe or the US (where I doubt my husband would be able to find a job, as he won't be the only one). Do we want our children to be educated in English? Yes, because we don't plan to be here forever (technically speaking we're not native speakers), but we're lucky to have all 3 enrolled in ESF. Do I know people who get everything paid for? Yes, lots of them ... housing, education, even courses, electricity bills, business class (or economy class) tickets home. I know more people who get things paid for than ones who don't. However, once they lose their jobs, most of these people only have one way to go ... home. We're able to stand on our own feet. Expenses are high, mainly education and housing which takes up the largest chunk. However, tax is low. And again, I think we're better of in Asia than in Europe or the US these days. So we're making it work. We're happy and fortunate, not cry babies, nor pampered.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  34. Samurai Shonan

    I make much better money in Tokyo than I would state side. I will never go back.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  35. Wolfgang Derler

    I live in Hongkong since 21 years, single and make about 1Mill to 1.5 Mill HK$ per year. I have my own house, no mortgage on it, so, actually i could retire. But as i really like what i am doing.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
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CNN International's business anchors and correspondents get to grips with the issues affecting world business, and they want your questions and feedback.

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