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Hong Kong becoming increasingly popular with expatriates

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hong Kong becoming increasingly popular with expatriates

Some parts of the Middle East, such as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have long been popular with expatriates. The region's stable economy and growing industrialized sectors have proven alluring to international organizations seeking to expand their operations. Although the Middle East will likely continue to be a major draw for expatriate professionals, the increasingly complex immigration regulations of nations like Saudi Arabia could lead expatriates to seek opportunities elsewhere. While Saudi Arabia has taken steps to reduce its dependency on foreign nationals, other states, such as Hong Kong, are welcoming expatriates with open arms. According to The Wall Street Journal, increasing numbers of immigrants from nations like France are flocking to Hong Kong to take advantage of a wider range of employment opportunities.

Foreign exchange
The news source reports that a new bilateral agreement between Hong Kong and France could further diversify the culture and population of the city-state. As part of the new program, which is set to take effect in July, up to 200 French youths will be permitted to live and work in Hong Kong on visas similar to those issued to tourists. Hong Kong already has a vibrant French population, and the number of expatriates living in the city has doubled since 2006. Today, an estimated 16,000 of Hong Kong's expatriates are French nationals.

"It was quite a surprise when I arrived," Clémence Trancart, a Parisian whose husband accepted a job in Hong Kong's finance sector four years ago, told the news source. "But there are more and more French articles featuring the life of French people in Asia, so a lot are coming to Hong Kong now."

Many entrepreneurial French citizens, including Trancart, see Hong Kong's increasingly prevalent French community as an opportunity. As the city's population has diversified, several French-language magazines have launched in the city-state, including Hong Kong Monsieur and Hong Kong Madame.

Warm welcome
Hong Kong's growing expatriate population is not merely a result of flexible visa requirements. According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong is seen as an increasingly desirable city in which to live and work.

Professionals working in the financial services sector find Hong Kong particularly appealing. The influx of foreign nationals to the city-state places it just behind Dubai in terms of popularity, and some experts believe this trend will continue into the future. However, it is not just foreign nationals who are benefiting from Hong Kong's expanding economy. Chinese nationals who have spent time overseas are becoming increasingly valuable to businesses based in Hong Kong.

"Asians who have worked away from home, and whose home countries are now becoming economic powerhouses, are exceptionally valuable as they combine international experience with an understanding of their local culture," Simon Walker, managing director of recruitment firm Hydrogen, said in a recent study analyzing global expatriate migration trends.

No matter where foreign nationals choose to live and work, there is little doubt that regional property markets are set to benefit from the gradual globalization of the world's workforce. According to the Hydrogen study, there are more than 200 million individuals living abroad, more than double the number 25 years ago. As such, the housing sectors of Hong Kong and Dubai are likely to experience vibrant growth in the coming years. 

Individuals considering relocating to another country may want to investigate alternatives to chain hotels, such as serviced apartments and furnished extended stay units. These types of accommodations are ideally suited to the needs of expatriate professionals and provide guests with a comfortable and convenient way to move internationally without investing in residential property ahead of time.