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2 Things Expat Communities Rarely Talk About

Article Summary:

Over the last decade there have been significant changes in the worldwide economy, the cost of living, and areas such as property which have had an impact upon the expat community. While all of these changes are relative from country to country the fact is that more and more people now seem to be considering a new start in a new country. Therefore it would be interesting to take a look at the expat community and see whether the expat life is more appealing or less appealing than it was 10 years ago.

Photo Credit: Expat Forum

Original Article Text From Expat Forum:

The US expat life is more appealing or less appealing than it was 10 years ago?

Over the last decade there have been significant changes in the worldwide economy, the cost of living and areas such as property which have had an impact upon the expat community. While all of these changes are relative from country to country the fact is that more and more people now seem to be considering a new start in a new country despite the fact that the economic outlook for Europe as a whole and indeed the worldwide economy is difficult to say the least. We therefore thought it would be interesting to take a look at the expat community and see whether the expat life is more appealing or less appealing than it was 10 years ago.

We conducted a poll at the expatforum.com website and the results will probably surprise many people in light of the ongoing Eurozone difficulties and the fact that even the once bullet-proof US economy is struggling to claw its way out of trouble. Before we take a look at the results from the poll we will have a look at the overall situation regarding the worldwide economy as it stands at this moment in time.

Worldwide economy
Over the last 10 years there have been some significant changes in the worldwide economy and indeed the US economy has been caught by the likes of India, China and even some of the South American countries. This has resulted in a significant change in the economic axis of power because while the US is still the most influential economy there is no doubt that the mortgage crisis of 2007/8 has had a major impact upon the country.

If we also take a look at the Eurozone, with a number of European countries now in meltdown, it really is a difficult situation in which to plan ahead and plan a new life in a new country. The worldwide economy is still in positive territory, although when we see the likes of the UK on the verge of falling back into recession and the Eurozone almost certain to crumble in the months ahead, where can we look for any stability with regards to economic activity and an affordable and acceptable standard of living?

The fact is that even those looking to move overseas to start a new life will need to have some kind of employment opportunity lined up before landing in their new-found homeland. Even those who are retiring to a new country will need to have sufficient capital behind them in order to gain entry to many countries – with governments concerned about ever-growing benefit payments. If we take a more positive look at the expat community, those who are able to start a new life overseas, arrange gainful employment and improve their standard of living in the current environment should do extremely well when things finally do pick up.

We will now take a look at the answers from the US expat community in response to the question – The US expat life is it more appealing or less appealing than it was 10 years ago?

More appealing (66.67%)
Even though the US still attracts more than its fair share of attention from the worldwide expat community it is becoming more difficult to gain entry to the country without specific skills or finances behind you. The fact that 66.67% of those who took part in our online poll from the US expat community believe that life is more appealing may surprise many especially given the current economic climate in the country. However, perhaps we now need to look at the wider picture because if you are an expat moving from the Eurozone there is no doubt at this moment in time a new life in the US would seem more appealing!

There are obviously many areas of the United States of America to consider therefore it would seem sensible to take an in-depth look at the more lucrative areas of the country to see whether there are still opportunities for expats. You need to choose carefully, you need to maximise your skill set and you also need to ensure you have the relevant finances in place to support yourself.

Less appealing (18.33%)
While the US economy is not expected to drop into a double dip recession it seems almost inevitable that economic growth will be subdued for some time to come. This economic reality is likely to have concerned a number of people looking at a potential move to the US as well as the fact that those in many countries around the world, especially the Eurozone, may well have seen their own finances impacted by the recent worldwide economic downturn. There is also the matter of exchange rates which will also have had a major impact upon those with assets denominated in euros.

Recently we saw the credit rating agencies hinting that the US triple-A rating may well be under threat in the short term unless the authorities are able to agree a new budget formula going forward. Like so many other countries around the world the US authorities have been forced to introduce a number of austerity measures and this is causing significant friction between politicians and voters. Debt is building up, unemployment is moving ahead again and despite massive fiscal stimulus programs the authorities are finding it very difficult to recharge the economy.

About the same (15%)
When you take into account the massive changes in the worldwide economy and the US economy over the last decade it is surprising to see that 15% of those US expats who took part in our online poll believe the expat life is just as appealing today as it was 10 years ago. In order to understand why they feel this way perhaps again we need to dig a little deeper and take into account the relative strength of the US economy when compared to the worldwide economy.

It is interesting to see that while unemployment is now rising across America, inflation has remained under control for some time now. The US Federal Reserve Bank has always targeted inflation as its number one concern because runaway inflation, as we saw across South America in the 80s and 90s, can literally decimate a potentially lucrative and growing economy. So when you take into account the fact that two thirds of those who took part in our online poll believe the expat life in the US is now more attractive and 15% believe that it is about the same, compared to 10 years ago, the US authorities must be doing something right?

US economy
While the US is still the most influential and the largest economy in the world there is no hiding the fact that the last decade has been very difficult. During the early turn-of-the-century we saw a massive investment in the US property market which led to a property bubble which continued to grow and grow until it finally popped in 2007/08. This led to the US mortgage scandal which eventually claimed figureheads such as the Lehman Bros investment company which had been an integral part of the US financial community for hundreds of years. We must not underestimate the impact of the mortgage crisis not only in the US but also around the world.

Since the mortgage crisis we have seen a recovery in the US economy with 2010 GDP up by 3%, followed by a 1.73% increase in 2011 and expectations of a 2.1% rise in 2012. While the forecasts for 2013 and 2014 indicate an increase of 2.37% and 2.91% respectively we recently saw a number of prominent economists downgrading expectations for 2012 to between 1.5% and 2%. It is likely that we will see an official downgrade of US government expectations in the short to medium term which will obviously have an impact upon the 2013/2014 figures. There is also growing concern about the US employment market amid fears that more recent economic growth forecasts would almost inevitably lead to an increase in unemployment which would place yet more pressure on the US government’s budget. On a number of occasions many economists have called an end to the US economic downturn only for a mixture of internal events and external events to dash these hopes.

If the Eurozone was to implode, as some experts still believe will happen, the tremors would be felt in all areas of the world. The US economy may still be in positive territory but there is still potential for yet further economic shocks in the short to medium term.

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