So... how are expats affected by the recession?
Well, it depends on the expat. In our situation, we feel pretty well-positioned. For the time being my husband has job security in that he has a contract for at least the next year, yes our portfolio has taken a hit, but we're young, yes his company recently went through a bit of turmoil but it is weathering the storm. He makes US dollars and so the weakening of the Canadian dollar is good for us (and good for exporters and most of Canada, too). Our living costs are covered, so fluctuations are not an issue... we feel very lucky. That said, my husband has worked VERY hard and continues to do so. One item we may potentially be affected by in a big way is our home in Canada - we decided to keep it, and my sister and her boyfriend are currently living in it. We said right from the start that we probably would not move back into it once we repatriate, as we may even change cities. We'd decide then what to do, it is in a very desirable area so renting it out could be a good option. Now with the baby coming, moving back into it is looking even less likely. We do like having our stuff stored there and cared for and it is certainly convenient to stay there when we are visiting Canada, also my sister has a great place to live at a significantly lower cost to her than she would find anywhere else. However, being that it was probably worth at least $100,000 more when we left than it is today, we probably should have sold it!
This week there was an article in the Independent (UK) entitled "Move Abroad to Beat the Recession Blues" - encouraging Brits to move abroad. Interestingly enough, Brazil was the first destination mentioned in the article. Other recommended locales: New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Abu Dabi, Qatar. The article also features a "where not to go" - Spain, Australia & Dubai. I love how articles like this just make it sound so easy. I can see why this article came to be, though. It's tough to beat the expat lifestyle right now.
However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Other expats are not as lucky. Some projects are being shut down due to cost cutting, and people are being sent home. It is not surprising, as expats are very expensive for companies. I often joke that shareholders should be enraged, then I am reminded on a daily basis of why we are all here when I hear stories from the offices...
The International Herald Tribune recently published an article about expats in the banking industry losing their jobs and being forced to return home. The article discusses the trickle effect of losing these expats, for example the impact on private schools, as this is a very common perk in expat packages - private schools for children. In many cases where an ex-pat loses employment, they cannot afford to stay in their city as the cost of living is simply too high once they are paying for their own costs. This would certainly be the case for us!
So expats, what do you have to say? How is the recession affecting you? Do you feel more affected or less affected than you would back home? How so? Are you like me and sorry you didn't sell your house back home???