Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Virtual Expatriate

One of the most common issues faced by expatriate couples is the impact on the career of the spouse. In many expatriate locations, specialized jobs similar to what the spouse had previously held simply do not exist. This can be a critical issue in moving to another country. The potential loss of earnings, the prospect of having outdated skills on returning home, as well as the adjustment to becoming a stay at home spouse can become issues that bring an expatriate assignment to an early end.
This is particularly difficult when the couple both have high level or very specialized jobs. With the benefit of technology however, a growing number of expatriate spouses are turning to virtual employment.  Read more

Monday, April 25, 2011

Comparative Cost of Living : Perth, Australia

Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and ranks fourth amongst the nation's cities, with a growth rate consistently above the national average.
The climate is hot with Summer temperatures rising to 36°, with 10 hours of sunshine daily and hardly any rain, while Winters are mild, with hot, sunny and clear blue skies.  Perth can experience high winds and fierce storms and at these times there are risks of flooding from the Swan River. The city also sits close to Australia'a most active earthquake zone.

Economically it dominates the Western Australian economy by virtue of its population and its role as the administrative center for business and government, despite the major mining, petroleum and agricultural export industries located elsewhere in the state. Perth's function as the State's capital city, its economic base and population size have also created development opportunities for many other businesses oriented to local or more diversified markets.

The inner city of Perth is located alongside the Swan River, it was originally built using convict labor and the historic buildings are testimony to this era.  These areas now provide a scenic outlook for Perth and the river is a place for recreational activities, such as river cruises, walking, cycling, water sports and picnicking along the banks.

There are some great malls which lend themselves to fun shopping days, such as The Hay St Mall, Murray St Mall, Raine Square, Forest Chase, Barrack St and Kings Street to name a few.  

Some attractions in Perth are Kings Park, the Botanical garden, Perth Zoo, the Old Mill and Barracks Arch.

Then there is the Sunset Coast in Perth, where you can walk along beautiful sandy beaches, swim in the surf or tan in the warm sun.

The Port city of Fremantle, a popular spot on weekends for markets, entertainment and alfresco style cafes and eateries, lies just south of Perth on the coast of Western Australia.
The Swan Valley Region has more than 40 vineyards many still run by the original families, this area is steeped in history and is one of Western Australia's oldest wine regions.

A popular holiday destination is Rottnest Island, it offers a relaxed atmosphere where you can meet the Quokka, a unique little marsupial which is responsible for the islands name.
Perth hills offers wonderful bushwalking and hiking trails with rolling hills and valleys of native bushland, wineries and orchards.

The district of Northbridge, just outside of Perth offers a range of nightclubs, pubs, cafes and eateries with an eclectic mix of cultures and cuisines.  South of Perth in Fremantle which offers further nightlife with a variety of local nightclubs and bars.

Living in Perth

The Central Business District (CBD) is in Central Perth, if you work in the CBD you may want to live nearby, or along the main commuting routes (freeways and railways - Perth offers a good public transport system).

A city lifestyle will be found in East Perth, Subiaco, and some parts of Northbridge and Joondalup.  They have higher density housing, apartments and townhouses, with lots of facilities closeby, such as cafes, restaurants, cinemas and theatres.  Mount Hawthorn, Vic Park and Fremantle have similar lifestyle facilities, and offer more character and older styled houses.

To the North of the River you will find great beaches and better routes into the city, while South of the River has more character suburbs (e.g. Fremantle) with easier access to the Southern areas of WA.

If you are looking for a beach home, look towards the Northern Coastal Suburbs, there are also wonderful areas around the Swan and Canning Rivers, while the Hills offer a less suburban-type lifestyle.

The Northern suburbs are very popular, this covers the coastal areas from Trig to Mindarie, and the suburbs inland from these.  The main attraction are the great beaches in these areas and the availability of new housing developments.

There are obviously many factors to consider when deciding on location, such as the schools, location to work, quality of houses, number of facilities available close by, the median house price in an area is a good indicator of how desirable the area is.

Schools include both Government and Private schools, with the majority of children going to the former. The school year starts in January and ends in December.

What is the cost of living in Perth:

Perth has an overall cost of living index which equates it with high cost of living locations.
Perth is currently ranked 23 overall, most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live, out of 300 international locations.

Hardship of Perth, Australia compared to Los Angeles, USA :
The Home Location USA, Los Angeles Calif is ranked as a minimal hardship location with a hardship premium of 10%

The To Location Australia, Perth is ranked as a minimal hardship location with a hardship premium of 10%

The relative difference in hardship premium (i.e. Host Location Premium minus Home Location Premium) is 0%

Salary Purchasing Power Parity

Applying the cost of living difference based on what will be paid from salary, together with the hardship difference, and arbitrage exchange rate, the Xpatulator calculation is as follows:
Home/Current location salary
US Dollar (USD )
+ Cost of living difference 32.0427%
US Dollar (USD )
+ Hardship Difference 0%
US Dollar (USD )
US Dollar (USD )
x Exchange Rate 0.9858
Salary in Host/New location
Australian Dollar (AUD )

This means, based on all the above factors, that a person would require a salary of 130,167.72 Australian Dollar (AUD ) in Australia, Perth to have the same standard of living as currently enjoyed in USA, Los Angeles Calif on a salary of 100,000.00 US Dollar (USD ). This salary compensates for the overall cost of living difference of 32.0427%, the hardship difference of 0%, and the exchange rate.

  • Alcohol & Tobacco is more expensive
  • Clothing is cheaper
  • Communication is cheaper
  • Education is more expensive
  • Furniture & Appliances is more expensive
  • Groceries is more expensive
  • Healthcare is more expensive
  • Household is more expensive
  • Miscellaneous is cheaper
  • Personal Care is more expensive
  • Recreation & Culture is more expensive
  • Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels is more expensive
  • Transport is more expensive

The Overall Basket Group cost of living ranking for Perth Australia is:

  • Alcohol & Tobacco rank of 37 out of 300.
  • Clothing rank of 142 out of 300.
  • Communication rank of 169 out of 300.
  • Education rank of 20 out of 300.
  • Furniture & Appliance rank of 93 out of 300.
  • Grocery rank of 36 out of 300.
  • Healthcare rank of 16 out of 300.
  • Household rank of 35 out of 300.
  • Miscellaneous rank of 182 out of 300.
  • Personal Care rank of 13 out of 300.
  • Recreation and Culture rank of 23 out of 300.
  • Restaurants, Meals Out and Hotel rank of 24 out of 300.
  • Transport rank of 52 out of 300. 

The overall weighted cost of living difference between USA, Los Angeles Calif and Australia, Perth is 32.04%

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brisbane, Australia Cost of Living

Australia is situated in Oceania, a continent between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.  It has a generally arid to semiarid climate and is temperate in the south and east, while tropical in the north.  The terrain is mostly low plateau with deserts, with fertile plains in the southeast.

Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city and the state capital of Queensland. It has a population of around 1.8 million people and is Australia's fastest growing city.

Brisbane itself has a wonderful outdoor climate and is known as “The Sunshine State”, with Summer temps averaging 29°C (84°F), while winter daytime temps average 21°C (70°F), however be aware it can also rain a lot, as the devastating 2011 floods are testimony to. 

Brisbane's economy is diverse. White-collar industries include information technology, financial services, higher education and public sector administration generally concentrated in and around the central business district and recently established office areas in the inner suburbs. Blue-collar industries, including petroleum refining, stevedoring, paper milling, metalworking and QR railway workshops, tend to be located on the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and in new industrial zones on the urban fringe. Tourism is an important part of the Brisbane economy, both in its own right and as a gateway to other areas of Queensland.

The city is built around Brisbane River where there is a manmade lagoon at South Bank Parklands which offers sunbathing and swimming.  The city is young and vibrant with modern architectural buildings, it is easy to navigate as it is set out in a grid like format.  This is a shoppers’ paradise, with five major shopping centers, two department stores and four shopping arcades. 

The city has a bustling night life with alfresco dining all year round, highlights are the areas of Fortitude Valley and New Farm. There are also a variety of choices of local parks, normally within walking distance of residences and many offer free to use barbeque facilities. In contrast to the compact city living, the suburbs are spacious with wide open acres of land which allow for wonderful outdoor entertainment type living and lie only 40 minutes from the brawling city. Both the SunshineCoast and the Gold Coast are within approximately an hour and a quarter’s drive from Brisbane, which is a major attraction for holiday makers.

Brisbane has an overall cost of living index which equates it with high cost of living locations. 

The cost of living rank for each of the 13 Basket Groups is as follows:
Alcohol & Tobacco 39 out of 300
Clothing 178 out of 300
Communication 211 out of 300
Education 26 out of 300
Furniture & Appliance 138 out of 300
Grocery 52 out of 300
Healthcare 20 out of 300
Household 41 out of 300
Miscellaneous 173 out of 300
Personal Care 17 out of 300
Recreation and Culture 36 out of 300
Restaurants, Meals Out and Hotel 44 out of 300
Transport 72 out of 300

Brisbane is ranked as a minimal hardship location with a hardship index of 10%

Steven is Chief Instigator at a website that provides cost of living index information and calculates what you need to earn in a different location to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences. The complete cost of living rank for all 300 locations for all 13 baskets is available here

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Expatriate Spotlight on Buenos Aires in Argentina

Argentina is in Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Chile and Uruguay.  Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, translated meaning “Land of Silver”.

It is a land of extremes, and boasts the highest literacy rate in South America, the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere – Mount Aconcagua (6,962m) and the lowest point – Laguna del Carbon (-105 m).
You land in Argentina at Airopuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini, about a 45 minute drive from downtown Buenos Aires.

From the Tigre region with its casino, amusement park and river boat trips, to the famous Boca neighborhood with decorated stucco walls in rainbow colours, tango dancers spinning on cobblestone streets and the roaming musicians competing for attention, Buenos Aires is filled with exciting entertainment.

Buenos Aires has an overall cost of living index, which equates it with low cost of living locations. The overall cost of living index is comprised of the prices for defined quantities of the same goods and services across all 13 Basket Groups. Buenos Aires is currently ranked 227 overall, most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live, out of 300 international locations.

Hardship compared to Lyon, France:
Lyon, France is ranked as a minimal hardship location with a hardship premium of 10%. Buenos Aires is ranked as a some hardship location with a hardship index of 20%.  The relative difference in hardship premium (i.e. Host Location Premium minus Home Location Premium) is 10%.
Buenos Aires cost of living* compared to Lyon, France:

•    Alcohol & Tobacco is more expensive
•    Clothing is cheaper
•    Communication is more expensive
•    Education is cheaper
•    Furniture & Appliances is cheaper
•    Groceries is cheaper
•    Healthcare is cheaper
•    Household is cheaper
•    Miscellaneous is cheaper
•    Personal Care is cheaper
•    Recreation & Culture is cheaper
•    Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels is cheaper
•    Transport is cheaper

*As at 1 April 2011

The overall weighted cost of living difference between Lyon, France and Buenos Aires is -21.85%

Salary Purchasing Power Parity (SPPP)

The SPPP report calculates how much you need to earn in another location to compensate for a higher cost of living, hardship, and the exchange rate, in order to have the same relative spending power and as a result have a similar standard of living as you have in your current location.

The following exchange rates have been used:
5.5940 Argentine Peso (ARS ) to 1 Euro (EUR )
0.1788 Euro (EUR) to 1 Argentine Peso (ARS )

A person would require a salary of 88,151.83 Euro (EUR) which is 493,121.34 Argentine Peso’s (ARS) in Buenos Aires to have the same standard of living as currently enjoyed in Lyon, France on a salary of 100,000.00 Euro (EUR). This salary compensates for the overall cost of living difference of -21,8482%, the hardship difference of 10%, and the exchange rate.

SPPP Formula :
Home / Current Location salary 100,000.00 EUR
+ Cost of living difference -21.8482% = -21,848.17 EUR
+ Hardship difference of 10% = 10,000 EUR

TOTAL of 88,151.83 EUR
x Exchange Rate of 5.5940
= 493,121.34 ARS

For the full cost of living rankings for April 2011 go here

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Education International Cost of Living Ranking - April 2011

This report provides you with the rank of Education cost of living indexes as at April 2011 for each of our 300 global locations. The indexes are calculated using the prices for specific quantities of the same goods and services in each location, based on expatriate spending patterns across 13 broad categories (Basket Groups). Our calculators make use of the cost of living indexes, based on your input and Xpatulator's data, to create reports online which you can save, e-mail or convert to a pdf file.

Education costs include creche / pre-school fees, high school / college fees, primary school fees, and tertiary study fees. is the most comprehensive source of international cost of living index information.

Premium Content Calculators:

Salary Purchasing Power Parity Calculator (SPPP):  Download Demo SPPP Report
The SPPP report calculates how much you need to earn in another location to compensate for a higher cost of living, hardship, and the exchange rate, in order to have the same relative spending power and as a result have a similar standard of living as you have in your current location. Each new SPPP report uses 1 credit ($99).Recommended for a detailed comparison of 2 locations.

Cost of Living Allowance Calculator (COLA):  Download Demo COLA Report
The COLA report calculates how much additional allowance (over and above your current salary) you need to earn in another location to compensate for a higher cost of living, hardship and the exchange rate, in order to have the same relative spending power and as a result have a similar standard of living as you have in your current location. Each new COLA report uses 1 credit ($99). Recommended for calculation of a cost of living allowance for short-term assignments.

Cost of Living Index Calculator (COLI) :  Download Demo COLI Report
The COLI report calculates cost of living indexes for the host locations you select, using the home location you specify. You can choose from any one of the 13 baskets or you can choose the overall cost of living index.  Each new COLI report uses 1 credit ($99) allowing you to choose 1 home location and up to 300 available host locations. Recommended for the calculation of 3 or more cost of living indexes using your choice of base city.

1 credit costs $99. Register, buy credits online and you can run the premium content calculators and receive your reports online within minutes.

The April 2011 education international cost of living rank is as follows: 

April 2011 Top Ten Rank Country, City

1 Brazil, Sao Paulo
2 Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
3 Angola, Luanda
4 Brazil, Brasilia
5 Russia, Moscow
6 Singapore, Singapore
7 Bahamas, Nassau
8 Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain
9 Australia, Sydney
10 United Kingdom, London

This article may be freely copied as long as reference is made to 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dummies guide to getting a salary increase

1.       Register on a few recruitment/job websites. This is especially effective if you do it on Linkedin and your boss is one of your contacts
2.       Inform HR not to pay next year’s school fees until you advise otherwise as your kids may not be attending the same school next year
3.       Advertise your car for sale on the company intranet, but don’t disclose why
4.       Casually ask your boss how much notice you have to give
5.       Act really happy for no apparent reason……
I hope it works for you. for all your cost of living information