Diversity is the key to long-term economic growth

Image source: themocracy.com

The question of whether cultural diversity has played an important role in the development of nations or not has been emphasized recently especially with the level of various political and immigration issues that the United States is currently facing.

However, such dilemma is nothing new. In fact, the growing dispute over the economic importance of immigration to powerful host countries like the US has been highlighted on numerous occasions in the past and have contributed to several changes in government policies, triggering, according to analysts, undesirable and long-term economic impacts.

As a response, many studies have emerged, pointing out not only the positive influence of cultural diversity in the society but also its detrimental role in securing a country’s economic growth and development in the future.

Image source: optus.com

Related publications have also stressed that countries having high levels of cultural diversity have been better in adapting innovative ideas and technological breakthroughs. Furthermore, experts have agreed that that geographical openness and believing in a cosmopolitan culture are not just mere by-products of globalization but are actually the primary drivers of long-term economic progress.

Similar conclusions can be observed especially when we shift our focus on the most diverse and influential generation today: the millennials and how they embrace an open and progressive cosmopolitan culture in the workplace.

Companies that promote as well as nurture diversity have successfully motivated and welcomed a new generation of highly-skilled and multi-talented individuals coming from different cultures, religions, ethnicity, and gender.  Employees from all walks of life can bring a wider range of experiences and ideas compared to a more homogeneous workforce.

REPOST: Note to Expats: No, You Didn’t Dodge the U.S. Tax Bullet

The tax law is quite complex, and even more so for those working abroad. Hence, plenty of expatriates, particularly Americans, often fall prey to numerous myths that later on would only put them in a much worse financial situation. Some of these myths are listed on the TIME article below:

Julia Roberts, playing Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat Pray Love,” didn’t spend much time worrying about her taxes. | François Duhamel—Sony Pictures Entertainment/moviestillsdb.com

 

If you’re an American citizen living abroad, you may have spent the first half of April thinking, “Lucky me.” As millions of Americans filed and paid their taxes, you could go about your life without having to sweat over your 1040 or deal with the IRS at all.

 

Unfortunately, the idea that you’re no longer in thrall to Uncle Sam is a myth—and only one of several misconceptions people have about the taxation of U.S. expatriates. Here are five of the most common tax myths that plague U.S. expats, explained and debunked:

 

Myth #1: I don’t live in the U.S., so I don’t have to file U.S. taxes.

Contrary to popular belief among expats, the obligation to file U.S. taxes does not end when you take up residence in a new country. The United States is one of only two countries (the other being Eritrea) that taxes its citizens no matter whether they reside.

 

Myth #2: I don’t owe U.S. taxes, so I don’t have file a U.S. tax return.

In order to prevent the double taxation of income earned by U.S. citizens living abroad (i.e., tax imposed by the U.S. and the country of residence), the U.S. tax code contains provisions that can reduce or eliminate an expat’s obligation to pay U.S. taxes. For instance, the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE) allows expats to exclude a certain amount of income earned abroad ($100,800 for 2015). Expats are also generally allowed to use foreign taxes paid as a credit against their U.S. tax obligation.

 

Even if these provisions eliminate your U.S. tax obligation, however, they do not eliminate your obligation to file a U.S. income tax return on an annual basis. This is because in order to claim the FEIE or foreign tax credit, you must file certain forms with a tax return. In some cases, a late filing of these forms can bar you from making these claims. If your late filing is allowed, you may not suffer penalties that are calculated as a percentage of tax due, but you may suffer penalties that are imposed as a fixed dollar amount. For example, a $10,000 penalty may imposed for not timely filing Form 8938 (Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets) with your tax return.

 

Myth #3: I don’t have a balance of $10,000 in any foreign bank account, so I do not have to tell the IRS about the money.

The Foreign Bank and Financial Account Report (FBAR) is an informational report that is submitted electronically with the Treasury Department. Any U.S. account holder (person or entity) with a financial interest in or signature authority over one or more foreign financial accounts exceeding $10,000 in total in a calendar year must file the form.

 

This means that if you have more than one financial account, the balance of all your accounts need to be added together to see if you pass the $10,000 threshold. When aggregating your financial account balances, you have to include checking, savings, investment, pension, and mutual fund accounts. Keep in mind that you can also be on the hook for foreign bank accounts over which you have signatory authority.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Middle East: Powerhouse region for expat opportunities

Image source: dnrd.ae

Choosing the expat life can be one of the toughest decisions that anyone can face but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the try. Even if there are pros and cons, the benefits will always outweigh the risks especially if you know where to start—and what questions to ask: can this city’s culture provide a desirable lifestyle for you and your family? Does it have the economic environment to allow you to grow as a professional?

Many expats who have recently found the answers to these questions can now be found living the best years of their lives in one of the richest and most dynamic regions in the world—the Middle East, not only because its cities boast vibrant cultures of the old and new but its resources to fuel business and professional growth have attracted millions of expatriates from around the globe.

One of the reasons why the Middle East is a healthy option is because of its optimistic economic prospects, thanks to its massive oil reserves as well as a lucrative combination of substantial employment packages and tax-free incentives.

 

Image source: happytoys.bg

The United Arab Emirates, for instance, is a haven for expat employees. Imagine earning 66 percent more that you did back home? Aside from that, cities in UAE like Dubai, the highest ranking city in the Middle East for expats, offers different experiences such as its exciting social life, year-round outdoor and sports activities that anyone can enjoy without traveling miles away from the city center.

In 2015, Qatar and Saudi Arabia took the first two spots as the homes of the top companies for expats in terms of earning potential. In addition, according to the HSBC survey, these two ranked as the best countries for individual financial growth and progress.

The Middle East, particularly the Gulf Region, has some of the world’s highest proportions of foreign workers relative to the local population. In Saudi Arabia alone, expat population makes up 98.4 percent of the total immigrant population. Meanwhile, India, China, and the U.K produce the most expat workers.

REPOST: Saudi Arabia introduces new tax for expatriates

The new tax structure for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia—long a tax-free haven for expatriates—is meant to balance between revenues and expenses in the budget by 2020. It will affect around 11 million foreigners (with 2.3 million of their dependents) who work in the private sector. More about this story on Al Arabiya:

 

The Saudi General Directorate of Passports and Expatriates Affairs said levy fees on expatriates’ dependents include all nationalities with no exceptions.

 

The Saudi General Directorate of Passports and Expatriates Affairs said levy fees on expatriates’ dependents include all nationalities with no exceptions.

 

The directorate added that residency permits and residency identities will not be renewed unless all levy fees on dependents are paid.

 

New fees on dependents of residents and visitors went into effect on July 1. The move aims to balance between revenues and expenses in the budget by 2020.

 

For the year 2017, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 100 SAR a month. This will save 1 Saudi billion riyals by the end of the year.

 

In 2018, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 200 SAR a month. A monthly tax worth 400 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 300 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 24 Saudi billion riyals in 2018.

 

In 2019, the levy fee for each dependent of foreign workers will be 300 SAR a month. A monthly tax worth 600 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 500 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 44 Saudi billion riyals in 2019.

 

In 2020, a monthly tax worth 800 SAR will be imposed on each expatriate employee if the number of the latter in a company is more than Saudi employees. However if their number is less than Saudi employees, the imposed monthly fee will be 700 SAR.

 

The estimated revenue is 65 Saudi billion riyals in 2020.

Global citizens: Expat parents and their third culture kids

Image source: imffa.org

 

Thinking about living abroad as a foreign worker can be both daunting and exciting but what if you add raising children to the equation? For most families, deciding on whether to take this less travelled path or not can be the biggest and most important choice that they’ll ever make.

Expatriation has boomed in the past few decades (which translates to a major boost in the global economy) and with it, many have chosen to build families in countries other than their own. This resulted in the emergence of a new generation of “international kids,” who may have parents from two different countries, born somewhere else, and lived in an entirely different one. That seems cool but for most of them, this kind of lifestyle can be very challenging. From dealing with different currencies and costs of living to explaining ‘where they are from,’ the struggle is very real.

 

Image source: takenbythewind.com

 

Many studies have finally defined the uniqueness and exclusivity that members of an expatriate family experience, particularly describing what it does to their children. Coined as the ‘third culture kids’ (TCK), they are children of expats around the world who spent their younger years in another country, learning its cultures and customs through educational and social institutions abroad.

However, this system does not remove the perception that they are still ‘foreigners’ to their host country—and what’s more astonishing is they do not also feel much at home in the culture of their country of origin; thus, allowing them to identify with a middle, third culture that they have learned to acquire from their experiences.

 

Image source: are-concept.de

 

While it’s amazing to experience two cultures at once, not belonging to either one can create this unique identity that can either make or break how they see themselves as individuals. Surprisingly, many of these TCKs were able to deal with this semi-nomadic living very well. In fact, one of them eventually became the 44th President of the United States.

It can be challenging to let your family be a part of your expat adventure, but there are several advantages that can rival the risks. For instance, showing them the world at an early age will help them have a more open and better understanding of cultural differences. In addition, as ‘world citizens’, they can develop a rare flexibility and sensitivity that not everyone can learn and acquire in a lifetime.

REPOST: Ranking: Hong Kong now Asia Pacific’s most expensive city for expats

Hong Kong is a densely populated global financial center built on a small piece land with very limited natural resources. Hence, the cost of living is understandable high. On top of that, the HK dollar has appreciated against most major currencies over the past few years. Nonetheless, it remains to be one of the world’s best cities to do business. Here is an article on CNBC that explains how this SAR became Asia Pacific’s most expensive city to live in:

 

Hong Kong tops the list as the most expensive city in Asia Pacific for expatriates to reside, according to a cost of living survey conducted by consultancy firm ECA International.

 

The city is also the second most expensive city globally — behind Luanda in Angola — and its ranking on the list has steadily increased in the last 7 years.

 

“Hong Kong has continued to get more expensive for expatriates. Over the past few years, the HK dollar has appreciated against most major currencies, owing to its peg to the US dollar, which has pushed up the price of goods and services relative to those in locations whose currencies have weakened against the greenback,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s regional director for Asia, said in a release accompanying the ranking.

 

Jerome Favre | Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

Stable prices in Japan coupled with a weaker yen against major currencies also accounted for why Hong Kong overtook Tokyo this year as the most expensive city in Asia.

 

“This means that for many companies, the cost of maintaining their assignees’ purchasing power while posted here has fallen and international assignees based in Japan may see their cost of living allowances decrease,” Quane said in the release.

 

ECA gathered the results by collecting price data across 464 cities, comparing a pre-determined basket of goods and services that are commonly purchased by expatriates globally.

 

This basket includes groceries, meals, leisure activities and expenditure on clothing and general services. It excludes certain expenses such as rent, utilities, automobile purchases and tuition fees that are usually provided by companies when their employees relocate overseas.

 

Continue reading on this PAGE.

Top high-paying jobs for expatriates around the world

Image source: bangkokexpatlife.com

 

Many people nowadays are living the best days of their lives by exploring places and once in a lifetime career opportunities. Unlike the old days however, their ideal life is no longer limited within the boundaries of their home country. In fact, even with all the pros and cons of expatriation, millions of expats around the world still think that that big decision they once made was all worth it.

 

If you’re thinking of moving into a new country to start a career, what options do you have available as a professional? Here are the most in-demand jobs for expatriates around the world.

 

Language teacher/translator

If you’re a fluent speaker of your native language and you know the basics of teaching and translation, then you’re up for a bright and successful future abroad. English is the top language for teaching globally especially in progressive countries like South Korea and Japan, Russia, Brazil, and the many more.

 

Sales/business/marketing manager

According to a 2016 LinkedIn ranking based on job demands, opportunities as a sales manager is among the top positions that expats can apply for with over 400K openings. Among these countries is Singapore—a haven for business and marketing careers with an average expat salary of $138,641.

 

IT and tech jobs

Having an expertise in information technology and skills of basics to more complex programming languages will help you land a promising career in dynamic countries like New Zealand. On the other hand, India’s demand for the IT sector is so remarkable that expats from all over the globe can benefit from higher salaries and enjoy a lower cost of living compared to other expat destinations.

 

Financial services

The finance industry as a whole is a melting pot of experts from all cultural backgrounds. On Wall Street and in major financial centers like Bermuda—home to top offshore companies like LOM Financial—for example, experts and analysts come from various parts of the world. Financial jobs will always require expat experience and expertise to serve global clients more effectively.

REPOST: The 26 major cities with the highest quality of life in the world

Planning to relocate to another city and live there for good? Here is a list by the Deutsche Bank—as compiled by The Independent—that ranks major cities based on eight livability indexes: purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property price to income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution, and climate:

 

This week Deutsche Bank released its annual “Mapping the world’s prices” report, cataloguing the cost of goods and services in a cross section of the world’s biggest and most powerful cities around the world.

 

In 2017, for the first time, Deutsche Bank has included a ranking of the quality of life in 47 cities around the world. The ranking is based on eight sub-indexes compiled by crowd-sourced information database Numbeo, which create a broad picture of what it is like to live in different cities.

 

The indexes are: Purchasing Power, Safety, Health Care, Cost of Living, Property Price to Income Ratio, Traffic Commute Time, Pollution, and Climate.

 

Broadly speaking, the cities that rank highly are in the northern hemisphere in developed western economies, although several cities from nations like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand make the list, with one even at the very top.

 

Check it out below:

 

26.  Oslo, Norway — Norway’s capital makes this list thanks to strong scores in the pollution category, where it was 10th overall, and purchasing power, where it was 15th.

 

25.  Johannesburg, South Africa — Finishing top of the property price to income ratio ranking helped push the South African city to a relatively high position on DB’s list.

 

Inner-city Johannesburg, South Africa (AFP/Getty Images)

 

24.  Brussels, Belgium — Belgian capital and seat of the European Union, Brussels was fifth best for health care, and seventh overall for both property price/income ratio and traffic commute time.

 

23.  Warsaw, Poland — Breaking the top 10 in two categories — eighth in safety, sixth in cost of living — helped Warsaw to a high position in the overall quality of life ranking.

 

by Megan Townsend

 

22.  Chicago, USA — Often overlooked for coastal powerhouses like New York and Los Angeles, Chicago has the third best quality of life of any US city, according to Deutsche Bank’s ranking. It scored particularly high in property price to income ratio, finishing second.

 

21.  Dublin, Ireland — Dublin failed to excel in any single category, but scored well across the board, with its highest individual ranking being 10th in property price to income ratio.

 

See the full list HERE.

Five common myths about expatriation

Most people who have travelled to another country may have experienced the magic of living, even just for a couple of days, in an exotic and seemingly magical place. Some of them would wish how perfect it would be if they could just stay and live there for good. Such an ideal life, don’t you think? Not entirely.  

 

Millions of expatriates around the world may have experienced the honeymoon stage of living and working abroad, but most of them would agree that when reality sets in, you’ll realize how busting the common myths of expatriation could have made you wiser and fully prepared.

 

 

Image source: core-connect.net

 

So what are the common misconceptions about living as an expat?

 

You cannot survive if you don’t learn the local language first.

As long as you speak English, the global language, you can still survive the daily grind in a foreign land without knowing the local language by heart – just take your time.  However, learning basic expressions or having a phrase book handy can be helpful in interactions outside work.

 

You have very limited investment opportunities.

When in a foreign land, access to financial services outside banking is often seen to be difficult and complicated. However, setting up a dynamic investment portfolio while abroad doesn’t have to. Offshore financial services are expats’ best shot at diversifying into various investment machines (such as global bonds, foreign equities, etc.) without them needing to leave their host country. Companies like Bermuda-based LOM Financial provide excellent offshore investment solutions (safe, convenient, and tax efficient) that were specifically designed to meet expatriates’ needs, demands, and goals.

 

 


Image source: ckgsb.edu.cn

 

 

Living abroad is only for the outgoing and adventurous type.

Working abroad is not just for the extroverted. In fact, everyday life in the office even outside your home country is just pretty much the same: you work on your desk all day, lunch breaks with your co-workers, and the daily walk or commute home, etc. Just think positive and give yourself time to adjust.

 

Your life is going to be a daily vacation.

Staying in a country for a few weeks of vacation is totally different from actually living there for work. Most people make a big decision of moving to another continent based on an ideal image of working in a holiday destination without knowing its pros and cons.

 

 

Image source: businessinsider.com

 

You don’t have to worry about U.S. taxes anymore.

This one is for American expats. Contrary to popular belief, living in another country won’t excuse them from paying U.S. taxes.  As long as they are citizens of the U.S., they have tax obligations no matter where they live. It is important to note that America has tax treaties with numerous countries (where the IRS and the foreign tax agencies exchange tax data on their residents), so filing a tax return every year—whether they have income or not—is still necessary. To know more, here is a tax guide from the IRS for citizens living and working abroad.

 

Of diversity and harmony: Expats as cultural ambassadors

Being an expatriate means so much more than living in a different country for school or work. They may not really realize it before the move, but they will actually be carrying a very big responsibility the moment they settle in. Once they make new connections in their new home, at some point or the other, everyone will ask expats about their home country. That’s because hearing about a foreign country from an individual who actually lived there will excite and fascinate most. Slowly but surely, they are easing into their roles as cultural ambassadors.

 

 

Image source: blogsnow.com

 

What does a cultural ambassador do exactly? For one, they tell stories of home with foreign friends. This then leads to conversation and insightful discussions. Cultural ambassadors do so much more than imparting information, as they also learn something from their host country along the process. During the discourse there will be misconceptions, but clearing them up will become an activity that is worthwhile and meaningful in and of itself. All of these actions are in pursuit of common understanding. Despite coming from different lands, everyone is still connected. The expatriate, while retaining some of his practices from his native land, will slowly adopt his new home’s culture as well. This gradual merge will become the foundation of mutual respect, at least in an ideal setting.

 

Thinking about the task at hand seems very daunting. Surely enough, it is understandable for the thought that a single person will be representing an entire country and everything that it stands for can be intimidating. However, there is nothing to worry about for things will surely come naturally.

 

 

Image source: huffingtonpost.com

 

Expatriation made the world a much more globalized place for business and cultural exchanges. If it were a country, it would be one of the biggest in the world, with more than 230 million people considering themselves as foreign workers. That also translates to high economic value, with each one of them contributing taxes or investments to their new home, as well as remittances to where they are originally from. In countries like India, China, and the Philippines, money sent by their citizens working abroad serves as one the top sources of foreign currency.  This makes expats more than just cultural ambassadors, but economic linchpins as well.