Thursday, October 20, 2011

Expat Festivities while far from home….

Being an Expat permits unusual and fascinating events to occur while on your adventure, you belong to a community where celebrating different customs and traditions is an opportunity. 

CC rights Travelling Slacker  

 Our first cultural event to be experienced was Ramadan and Eid, this was fascinating and insightful.  Coming from South Africa, we have a diverse society with a mix of cultures, our suburb constitutes Christians, Muslims and Jews with Churches, Mosaics and Synagogues praising God down the road from each other. Our African, British, Greek, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, American, completely international cultures live together freely and without prejudice. I loved where we lived and still do, everyone is happy and friendly and we reside side by side without discriminating but equally without ever emerging into each others lives.
Being an expat changes your perspective on just about everything, you become more aware of cultural and religious differences, in a positive and energizing sense.  We started our adventure off with heading straight into the heat of the Arabian gulf and our first Ramadan, was both educational and insightful.  I became more aware of the call to prayer, of the berka and abaya and the reasons behind the religious and cultural events that occur in the Islamic faith.  My first Ramadan was a special event, we noted how everyone forfeited their basic need for food and water from sunrise to sunset, and the month is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. At sunset the family gathers together to break the fast with Iftar (fast breaking meal).  Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan. A special celebration is made. Food is donated to the poor; everyone puts on their best, usually new, clothes; and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends.

CC rights Mathew Ingram 
We have also partaken in the wonderful feast of Thanksgiving. It is a fantastic tradition and is celebrated by both our Canadian and American friends.  It is special to note how parents include their traditions with their families so far away from home and that each person around the table gave special thanks for those things that they were grateful for over the year.
The Canadian and American Thanksgivings are celebrated on different days and months and for different reasons.

The Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October and goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher's Thanksgiving was celebrated for homecoming, he had safely returned from an unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage.
In 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey.  The tradition of a feast was continued years later, as more settlers began to arrive in the Canadian colonies.

The American Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, and has officially been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving during the Civil War.
The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated to give thanks to Native Americans for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England, the first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three days

We have also started celebrating Halloween and have amazing American friends who have brought all their decorations with them from home. Added to this they have all the traditional games of feeling through jelly to find the witches eggs and walking blind folded through spider webs and of course the scary movies, costumes and copious amounts of sweets that get handed out and eaten!
CC rights Sarah Ackerman 
Traditionally Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.  Celebrated on 31 October it is a time of celebration and superstition

CC rights Ajay Tallam 
Diwali, which although we have not celebrated, we have listened to the enthusiastic stories of the festival from our Indian friends. It is one of the biggest festival of Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, where the third day is celebrated as the main Diwali festival or 'Festival of lights'. Different colorful varieties of fireworks are always associated with this festival. On this auspicious day, people light up diyas and candles all around their house. They perform Laxmi Puja in the evening and seek divine blessings of the Goddess of Wealth. The festival of Diwali is never complete without exchange of gifts. People present Diwali gifts to all near and dear ones.

We always celebrate our own religious holidays with those friends that we hold near and dear being so far away from home.  Living in a compound, it is not uncommon to walk around and notice different front doors decorated with some fantastical decorations for a special event that is being celebrated in that expats land. It is a magical time for each community and a special occasion for other expats to learn about and appreciate their neighbors.

Some interesting Blogs:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Expatriate Salary Purchasing Power Parity

The core strategy driving expatriate pay programs globally is the principle of protecting an employees’ domestic income and spending power, irrespective of global location. How to achieve this has been an issue many organizations spend considerable time on. Exchange rates are volatile as they are based on short-term factors and are subject to substantial distortions from speculative movements and government interventions. In the short term, exchange rates, even when averaged over a period of time such as a year, are not a good measure of the comparative value of a salary in relation to its comparative international purchasing power. In the short to medium term at least, apparent changes in the comparative level of remuneration between one country and another may be principally a function of changes in the exchange rate.

In response to this we developed an on-line tool to calculate the salary purchasing power parities (SPPP's) for every country in the world. In simple terms the salary purchasing power parity is the rate of salary purchasing power that equalizes the purchasing power of different currencies, given the relative cost of the same basket of goods at the exchange rate versus one US Dollar. This means that a given salary, when converted into different currencies at the SPPP rates, will buy the same basket of goods and services in all countries.

The basket of goods and services used in SPPP calculations is derived on an International basis and includes certain items often excluded from expatriate cost of living data (most notably housing costs), however any or all of the 13 basket groups can be included or excluded from a calculation. SPPP's provide a reasonably good picture of the differences in standards of living for individual’s resident and paid in different countries. Internationally comparable data is crucial to forming sustainable expatriate pay policies and monitoring progress. Market exchange rates give misleading comparisons because they do not reflect salary purchasing power differences. Salary Purchasing Power Parities account for price differences between countries and so measure real quantities. By establishing salary purchasing power equivalence, where one dollar salary purchases the same quantity of goods and services in all countries, SPPP conversions allow cross-country comparisons of salary levels free of salary survey market and exchange rate distortions.

Expatriate Engagement

Engagement is a fairly recent term in business. In the past the talk was about “attracting, motivating and retaining” expatriate employees. All three strategies focused primarily on money. A competitive salary that takes into account the relative cost of living, exchange rate and hardship together with global expatriate benefits such as longer vacations, flights home, private school, club membership and the like were typically used to “attract” expatriates to where their skills were needed most. Bonuses, performance based pay, and recognition plans were used to “motivate” expatriates. Shares, retirement plans and tax-free gratuities were typically used to “retain” expatriates using the so-called golden handcuff approach.

The financial crises and recession have in my view provided further proof that money alone is not enough. When money gets tight will your expatriate employees stay and will they be motivated? Money on it’s own will not motivate or retain an expatriate when annual salary increases are reduced, bonuses are negligible if they are paid at all and shares are not performing.

To ensure expatriates will stay when times get tough, an engaged expatriate is required. An engaged expatriate is one who is committed to the organization (i.e. the host organization). An engaged expatriate is willing to exert extra effort in accomplishing tasks important to the achievement of the organizations goals.

Recruitment and Promotion
Ensuring that expatriates are put in the right job is a prerequisite for engagement. In reality expatriates are often hired because their skills are not locally available and because they are willing to relocate to a location that most people would not want to live in. As a result expatriates are often hired for their technical skills and not for their behavior, which in their home country would have been closely analyzed and subject to rigorous reference checking. It is critical that the right expatriate is recruited into the right job taking all aspects into account, including personality, age, culture, attitude, and previous track record through quality reference checks.

High Performance Standards
Average performance is usually associated with easy, low demand work. Responsibilities and accountabilities need to be well defined with clear perceptible differences compared to those they report to and to those who in turn report to them. Where differences in accountability are not clearly defined the result is a “non-job”. It is not possible to perform in a non-job as it is not clear who is accountable for what!

For engagement, expatriates need to be challenged with high standards of performance that will test their abilities fully. Hiring over qualified, over experienced expatriates into jobs that are too small for them will leave them unchallenged. Expatriates often perform badly when unchallenged by the job, but rise to accomplish the most difficult tasks when properly challenged.

An engaged expatriate requires feedback. With this information the expatriate can control their outputs, measure how they are doing, guide themselves to reach their goals, and accept complete responsibility for their tasks, assignment and job.

In conclusion I ask again. When money gets tight will your expatriate employees stay and will they be motivated? A competitive salary that takes into account the relative cost of living, exchange rate and compensation for the hardship of living in an unfamiliar/foreign location together with global expatriate benefits will attract and to some degree retain expatriates. However if you really want your expatriates to stay motivated when times get tough you need to ensure you have engaged expatriates. Engaged expatriates are committed to the organization. You can better engage your expatriates by ensuring that expatriates are put in the right job, are challenged with high standards of performance that will test their abilities fully, and by providing feedback on how they are doing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cost of Living South Asia - October 2011

South Asia is the least expensive region in the world for expatriates to live in. The most expensive city surveyed is Mumbai (ranked 139 in the world). Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is the commercial and entertainment centre of India, generating 5% of India's GDP, and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India's economy. Mumbai is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. The city also houses India's Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. India have 6 cities in the top 10 most expensive cities for expatriates in South Asia.  

The ten most expensive cities in South Asia (Global rank in brackets):
1.India, Mumbai (139)
2.India, New Delhi 179)
3.India, Chennai (181)
4.India, Calcutta (182)
5.Sri Lanka, Colombo (186)
6.India, Hyderabad (193)
7.India, Bangalore (201)
8.Maldives, Male (241)
9.Afghanistan, Kabul (252)
10.Pakistan, Lahore (273)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cost of Living Europe - October 2011

Europe’s most expensive cities are mostly those that are not on the Euro. The most expensive city in Europe is Geneva (ranked 2 in the world), followed by Zurich (ranked 3), making Switzerland the most expensive country in Europe if not the world. Switzerland's currency has risen by 43% against the euro between the start of 2010 and mid-August this year. The Swiss National Bank, which conducts Switzerland’s monetary policy as an independent central bank, recently announced that it will enforce a minimum exchange rate of CHF 1.20 to the Euro. The Swiss National Bank said that even at a rate of CHF 1.20 per euro, the Swiss franc is still high and should continue to weaken over time. If the economic outlook and deflationary risks so require, the SNB will take further measures.

The ten most expensive cities in Europe (Global rank in brackets):
1. Switzerland, Geneva (2)
2. Switzerland, Zurich (3)
3. Liechtenstein, Vaduz (5)
4. Norway, Oslo (8)
5. Russia, Moscow (9)
6. United Kingdom, London (14)
7. Denmark, Copenhagen (16)
8. Monaco, Monaco (21)
9. France, Paris (23)
10.United Kingdom, Glasgow (26)

Cost of Living - Education - October 2011

Courtesy of Dr Sharon Pruitt and
Pink Sherbet Photography
Cost of living rank of Education cost of living indexes as at October 2011 for 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). The 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:

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.

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.

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 October 2011 education international cost of living rank is as follows:

October 2011 Rank Country, City

1 Brazil, Sao Paulo
2 Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
3 Brazil, Brasilia
4 Russia, Moscow
5 Angola, Luanda
6 Singapore, Singapore
7 Australia, Sydney
8 Australia, Canberra
9 Russia, St. Petersburg
10 Australia, Melbourne
11 Cote DIvoire, Abidjan
12 Bahamas, Nassau
13 Gabon, Libreville
14 Australia, Perth
15 Belgium, Brussels
16 Vanuatu, Port Vila
17 USA, New York NY
18 Australia, Brisbane
19 Trinidad and Tobago, Port-of-Spain
20 New Zealand, Auckland
21 Bermuda, Hamilton
22 Liberia, Monrovia
23 Croatia, Zagreb
24 USA, Anchorage AK
25 Australia, Adelaide
26 Solomon Islands, Honiara
27 Central African Republic, Bangui
28 USA, Boston Mass
29 Equatorial Guinea, Malabo
30 New Caledonia, Noumea
31 Nigeria, Lagos
32 USA, Philadelphia Pa
33 USA, Seattle Wash
34 Congo Democratic Rep, Kinshasa
35 Sierra Leone, Freetown
36 Barbados, Bridgetown
37 Tanzania, Dar es Salaam
38 United Kingdom, London
39 USA, San Francisco Calif
40 Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome
41 USA, Chicago Ill
42 Uruguay, Montevideo
43 Comores, Moroni
44 Chad, NDjamena
45 USA, Washington DC
46 USA, San Jose Calif
47 Cuba, Havana
48 South Africa, Johannesburg
49 Serbia, Belgrade
50 USA, Los Angeles Calif
51 Samoa, Apia
52 USA, San Diego Calif
53 Kiribati, South Tarawa
54 France, Paris
55 Guinea, Conakry
56 Colombia, Bogota
57 USA, Portland Ore
58 Estonia, Tallinn
59 Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou
60 Lithuania, Vilnius
61 United Kingdom, Glasgow
62 Haiti, Port-au-Prince
63 Guam, Hagatna
64 Sudan, Khartoum
65 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
66 USA, Miami Fla
67 USA, Baltimore Md
68 Cape Verde, Praia
69 Norway, Oslo
70 Jersey, Saint Helier
71 Guernsey, St Peter Port
72 USA, Denver Colo
73 Djibouti, Djibouti
74 Cameroon, Douala
75 Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
76 South Africa, Pretoria
77 Iran, Tehran
78 Saint Helena, Jamestown
79 South Africa, Cape Town
80 USA, Atlanta GA
81 United Kingdom, Birmingham
82 Moldova, Chisinau
83 USA, Milwaukee Wis
84 USA, St Louis MO
85 United Kingdom, Leeds
86 USA, Cleveland Ohio
87 USA, Phoenix Ariz
88 USA, Dallas Tex
89 Guinea-Bissau, Bissau
90 Cameroon, Yaounde
91 South Africa, Durban
92 USA, Las Vegas Nev
93 Canada, Toronto
94 Myanmar, Yangon
95 USA, Detroit Mich
96 USA, Pittsburgh Penn
97 Congo, Brazzaville
98 USA, San Antonio Tex
99 Portugal, Lisbon
100 Kazakhstan, Almaty
101 Zambia, Lusaka
102 Malta, Velletta
103 USA, Charlotte NC
104 Benin, Cotonou
105 Switzerland, Geneva
106 USA, Jacksonville Fla
107 USA, Fort Worth Tex
108 Canada, Vancouver
109 Togo, Lome
110 Switzerland, Zurich
111 USA, Columbus Ohio
112 Paraguay, Asuncion
113 USA, Tampa Fla
114 Timor-Leste, Dili
115 USA, Houston Tex
116 Senegal, Dakar
117 Canada, Calgary
118 Germany, Munich
119 United Kingdom, Belfast
120 USA, El Paso Tex
121 USA, Memphis Tenn
122 Liechtenstein, Vaduz
123 Afghanistan, Kabul
124 USA, Austin Tex
125 Falkland Islands, Stanley
126 Niger, Niamey
127 Germany, Frankfurt
128 Germany, Cologne
129 Canada, Montreal
130 French Guiana, Cayenne
131 Italy, Milan
132 USA, Indianapolis Ind
133 French Polynesia, Papeete
134 Saudi Arabia, Jeddah
135 Algeria, Algiers
136 Rwanda, Kigali
137 Germany, Bonn
138 Germany, Berlin
139 Italy, Rome
140 Germany, Hamburg
141 Guyana, Georgetown
142 Kuwait, Kuwait City
143 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown
144 Mauritius, Port Louis
145 Iraq, Baghdad
146 Finland, Helsinki
147 France, Lyon
148 Seychelles, Victoria
149 Monaco, Monaco
150 Lesotho, Maseru
151 Canada, Ottawa
152 Sweden, Stockholm
153 Nepal, Kathmandu
154 Netherlands, Amsterdam
155 Suriname, Paramaribo
156 Isle of Man, Douglas
157 San Marino, San Marino
158 France, Marseille
159 Japan, Tokyo
160 Iceland, Reykjavik
161 Mali, Bamako
162 Dominica, Roseau
163 Cayman Islands, George Town
164 Belarus, Minsk
165 Tonga, NukuAlofa
166 China, Beijing
167 Vatican City, Vatican City
168 Latvia, Riga
169 Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre
170 Maldives, Male
171 Burundi, Bujumbura
172 Romania, Bucharest
173 Austria, Vienna
174 Botswana, Gaborone
175 China, Macao
176 Swaziland, Mbabane
177 Belize, Belmopan
178 Armenia, Yerevan
179 Korea Democratic Republic of, Pyongyang
180 Zimbabwe, Harare
181 Tuvalu, Funafuti
182 Martinique, Fort-de-France
183 Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek
184 Cook Islands, Avarua
185 Somalia, Mogadishu
186 Puerto Rico, San Juan
187 Honduras, Tegucigalpa
188 Marshall Islands, Majuro
189 Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre
190 Hungary, Budapest
191 Tajikistan, Dushanbe
192 Mauritania, Nouakchott
193 Indonesia, Jakarta
194 El Salvador, San Salvador
195 Saint Lucia, Castries
196 Ukraine, Kiev
197 India, Mumbai
198 Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
199 Nicaragua, Managua
200 Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Johns
201 Korea Republic of, Seoul
202 Greece, Athens
203 China, Shenzhen
204 Ghana, Accra
205 Libya, Tripoli
206 China, Wuhan
207 Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
208 Gambia, Banjul
209 Micronesia, Palikir
210 Andorra, Andorra la Vella
211 India, New Delhi
212 Thailand, Bangkok
213 India, Chennai
214 Japan, Osaka
215 China, Dalian
216 Grenada, Saint Georges
217 Uzbekistan, Tashkent
218 India, Hyderabad
219 Greenland, Nuuk
220 India, Calcutta
221 Eritrea, Asmara
222 Kosovo, Pristina
223 China, Shanghai
224 Bhutan, Thimphu
225 India, Bangalore
226 Georgia Republic of, Tbilisi
227 Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan
228 Spain, Madrid
229 Japan, Nagoya
230 Denmark, Copenhagen
231 Namibia, Windhoek
232 Macedonia, Skopje
233 Montenegro, Podgorica
234 Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan
235 Turkmenistan, Ashgabat
236 Israel, Jerusalem
237 China, Guangzhou
238 Spain, Barcelona
239 China, Tianjin
240 Albania, Tirana
241 Japan, Yokohama
242 Mexico, Mexico City
243 Poland, Warsaw
244 Tunisia, Tunis
245 Nauru, Yaren
246 Sri Lanka, Colombo
247 Malawi, Lilongwe
248 Cambodia, Phnom Penh
249 Azerbaijan, Baku
250 Chile, Santiago
251 Vietnam, Hanoi
252 Gibraltar, Gibraltar
253 Pakistan, Lahore
254 Turkey, Istanbul
255 Bahrain, Manama
256 Egypt, Cairo
257 Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City
258 Qatar, Doha
259 Pakistan, Islamabad
260 China, Hong Kong
261 Bulgaria, Sofia
262 Kenya, Nairobi
263 Pakistan, Karachi
264 United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
265 Palestinian Territories, West Bank
266 Uganda, Kampala
267 United Arab Emirates, Dubai
268 Slovakia, Bratislava
269 Turkey, Ankara
270 Argentina, Buenos Aires
271 Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby
272 Jamaica, Kingston
273 Bolivia, La Paz
274 Cyprus, Nicosia
275 Syria, Damascus
276 Morocco, Rabat
277 Laos, Vientiane
278 Czech Republic, Prague
279 Yemen, Sanaa
280 Taiwan, Taipei
281 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo
282 Oman, Muscat
283 Philippines, Manila
284 Ecuador, Quito
285 Madagascar, Antananarivo
286 Bangladesh, Dhaka
287 Ireland, Dublin
288 Peru, Lima
289 Jordan, Amman
290 Mozambique, Maputo
291 Palau, Melekeok
292 Costa Rica, San Jose
293 Venezuela, Caracas
294 Lebanon, Beirut
295 Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
296 Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
297 Panama, Panama City
298 Slovenia, Ljubljana
299 Fiji, Suva
300 Guatemala, Guatemala City

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