Surveys designed for multinationals not expats

Surveys designed for multinationals not expats

Surveys designed for multinationals not expats

Survey after survey listing the best, the cheapest, the worst, the most expensive and the safest cities are being avidly consumed by would-be expats hoping to make the right relocation choice.

Sadly, this huge number of hopefuls are looking in the wrong place for the right information, as list after list after list is deliberately aimed at multinationals looking to calculate acceptable salaries and perks for a particular destination. Many of the survey companies are funded by the very multinationals they’re serving, with the chance of the information being any use to would-be expatriates standing at low to almost non-existent, as the rankings are used as a way to gauge just how little an expat can get by on in any one specific location.

Hiring managers would have to do their own research at grass-roots level should the survey companies not exist, thus ensuring the endless lists are a tool for companies rather than for potential foreign employees. The usual result is that, as most postings involve high-ranking, highly-skilled professionals earning far more than the average local salary, certain destinations are bumped up in the lists, making them unrepresentative in many cases.

Most surveys operate in the same or similar manners, with local researchers all across the expat world collecting info on prices and making up the so-called ‘basket of goods’. As a result, the listings are aimed at international executive level and give no idea at all of local economic data as regards the real living costs of any one country. Given the above, the endless annual surveys are of little use to anyone not in the elite band of expat consumerism, and no use at all to retirees or those relocating to start and grow a new business. Making the wrong decision based on lists can wreck a perfectly good business or retirement strategy as well as costing much-needed capital if a change of destination is necessary.

For those happy to avoid the ‘elite’ sector of hi-so expat life, the best idea is to research sites which concentrate on straightforward information about local living costs, the cost and ease of application for long-stay visas and the strength or otherwise of the local expat community. These days, the majority of world expat communities have forums crammed with experienced posters happy to tell it like it is as regards costs and lifestyle as well as identifying any negatives as part of the overall picture.

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