Sunday, November 30, 2008

Defining moment...

Having just been reading reports of Australians repatriating themselves in the face of worsening economic prospects in the UK, and recalling that only a few weeks ago we were discussing Eastern Europeans heading home for now brighter prospects, we are forced back to the definition of the very subject of this blog, the expat.

Should we be differentiating more between the expat who has shifted country purely by choice and the economic migrant who has by definition mainly financial motives? If so, how do we in fact differentiate - and can one person in fact fall into both categories? Well, perhaps those mainly choosing a change of lifestyle will then build in financial considerations in making their final choice of country, and that is quite natural.

However, for those driven to a move by financial necessity, should we expect them to make any further commitment to their host country? They have made their decision on a financial basis and presumably have been welcomed for the skills they bring to the host country without further commitment being required, other than perhaps to learning the language - so can we blame such people for returning home when the financial advantage disappears suddenly?

Do the expats who relocate by choice, for love of culture, environment, etc., make a different sort of commitment to his host country? Are they more likely to remain and weather the storm when times get tough for a while? Probably, I would think, but perhaps only because they can afford the luxury!

In any event, perhaps a level of commitment aside from financial interest becomes part of our definition of an expat...

10 comments:

Hoo Don said...

I think a lot of expats original host choice is made up from a balance of money value, quality of life and past experiences of their chosen country.

Julieanne Paige said...

Hi

I am an Australian currently living in the UK. We did not move here for financial benefits (thats for sure... check our bank accounts ;)) And with the current financial crisis there are days when I think ... oh maybe I should just go home but my family in Australia are feeling the same strains as we are here and as finance wasn't the motivator to be here we don't see any reason to return to Australia.

I think there is a huge difference in attitude between expats. We are enjoying the beautiful countryside... that seems unaffected by the credit crunch ;)and although we have to rug up a bit more that we would at home I am a firm believer that home is where the heart is and my heart is here :)The world is here to be experienced :)

Julieanne

Shinade said...

I have always had a great curiosity related to expats.

I know a great many just from blogging.

I guess I am somewhat of a chicken. I simply can't imagine picking up and leaving my home country.

And we've been stuck over here in America with one of the worst leaders our nation has ever seen for almost a decade now.

This is a very interesting post for me and you have a great blog.

Martin in Bulgaria said...

I don't blame any expatriate for going back home for whatever reason. It is the freedom of choice which many have and take, many of course can't as they have committing everything to their new home or they were running away from something in their homeland. There is also a degree of pride involved and the admission of failure if repatriated. It may be therefore more diffiuclt for may epatriates to return from this stand.

a.eye said...

I don't blame any one for leaving in either direction. I agree with Martin that "There is also a degree of pride involved and the admission of failure if repatriated." But I also think that there should be a sense of pride if you leave for back to your home country before the going gets too tough where you have relocated. There should be no shame in going to a place for economic advancement. If your host nation is no longer benefiting you, then you should be free to go back to the home nation, or, if possible, to another country where you may be able to live successfully and practice your skills there.

Will Pow said...

Many thanks to all contributing to this discussion. I agree that there should be no shame or blame attached to moving on for financial reason, whether that be from or back to one's home country.

This blog has tended to focus on those expats who have chosen their host countries for a mixtures of different reasons, or simply a passion for that country, and perhaps in the current world economic climate we should be thinking more of those expatriates who make the move out of financial need.

I certainly feel that economic migrants must inevitably contribute far more than just their skills to the host country...

lisleman said...

Interesting discussion but I must admit I don't quite understand the issues involved.

I lived and worked in Ireland for just a number of months years ago so when does the time period become long enough to be an expat? My experience felt more like a long visit.

My boss is a brit who has lived here in the states for over 10 years. His family has established roots with schools, church, etc. I think any moving for his family would be community ties.

Like I said maybe I'm missing something but is it that different than moving from one established community to another. Say Chicago to Dallas. Communities have different cultures even within a country.

Randy Carter said...

I think many expats particularly for economic reasons do dream of going back when a bit better off financially. There are many issues that factor in to repatriating especially after being away for an extended period of time. For example, do I uproot the children? or if they are old enough bid them farewell and return home? That can be a difficult decision. There is also the financial aspect of repatriating even if you can a mass a fortune is enough to live off if you hit hard times back home? I would say it could be as much of a tough decision to repatriate as it is to expatriate in the first place especially once established.
In any case the Aussies are actually a statistical blip according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Although I also realise that's not the point of the post(I thought it might be an interesting add).

Will Pow said...

Yes, I have read reports that the Australian exodus is a statistical blip, although the original prompt for even mentioning it here was an article in the business press which looked at the outcome of a survey as well as the basic stats - indicating, for example, that 63% were returning home because they thought their jobs were at risk, or soon would be.

This more recent piece in the Australian press also seems to indicate that there is anecdotal evidence, from recruitment firms, etc., that the stats are lagging behind the reality and that indeed many are on the move because of fears of unemployment. If there is an annual shift back home, perhaps this time it is a case that they will not be returning unless the UK
economy sees a dramatic up-turn...

Buddha said...

I moved to USA from Eastern Europe 25 years ago.
I consider myself and American now and I have no intentions or plans to go back, although my American compatriots sometimes drive me nuts with their ignorance!