Monthly Archives: October 2012

A ‘five-star home’ in China

We have been interviewing Hong Kong lifestyle migrants who spend time in their second-home across the border in mainland China. Many of them have been attracted by the ‘five-star home’ lifestyle in an exclusive environment complete with residents’ clubhouse, golf courses, supermarkets and other touches of luxury and distinction of Western-style mansions, landscaped gardens, lakes and imported palm trees. Here are some photos taken during our recent fieldtrips that offer a glimpse of these enclave communities where HK lifestyle migrants live side by side with the nouveau rich in China.

by Maggy Lee




Be the hundredth survey respondent!

Wonderful news! We now have 99 respondents to our online survey. Thank you so much to those who have responded so far.

Let’s make it over 100.

Click here: The Lifestyle Migration Survey

Please note: The survey ends on 30th November 2012. We will then begin publishing some results.

Why I love living in SE Asia

Linda has just come back from a trip to Taiwan with her line dancing group. She says: “We enjoyed Taiwan very much, although it was rather exhausting! We danced for four days solid and the organisers took us on a tour of Taipei one evening, including the 101 Building. There was a great mix of nationalities,  including 20 from Japan, 30 from Hong Kong, although only my friend and myself were from Penang but there were another 20 from other parts of Malaysia.
I am attaching some photos taken in Taiwan, of the farewell dance and of the instructors, the majority of which were from UK.
This is one reason I love living in SE Asia, there are so many things to do and travel from Malaysia to any other countries in the region is very easy. The other reason we love Malaysia is the people, they are so friendly and welcoming also the food is great and cheap, as is the cost of living. This means that we can spend our retirement doing things that we could not afford to do if we were retired in the UK. There is only one downside and that is driving on the Malaysian roads. You just have to expect the vehicle in front of you to something stupid and be prepared for it! In general our quality of life here is much better than the life we would have in Britain”.

What does lifestyle migration mean to you?

Livvie Cunningham (lifestyle migrant in KL) spent some time thinking what photos she could send us that expressed how she feels about her lifestyle in Malaysia. There are a fair few, she says:


    “the lovely fountain outside our home that would be inconceivable in London”




    “the cracking sunset I’m so lucky to see each evening”





     “doing the weekly shop – but these days at a local fruit & veg market”



“or perhaps a group shot of the lovely friends we made that marked the start of feeling so much more “embedded” here.  But the one I have attached says, perhaps, a bit more, despite being a much less beautiful photo. I took this snap at our local “posh” supermarket.  Stunned of course to see Waitrose Essential products there, but to see them priced higher than branded products seemed so backward! Seeing a Waitrose product made me think suddenly about how you feel when you move across the world: amused/frustrated so often by things that seem familiar but turn out to be quite different; oddly comforted to see a slice of “home” yet a bit guilty about that.  Is it ok to want to feel connected to things from the UK, when we moved out here to live a new, different life?  Which place should I refer to as “home” now?  If I bought that product, would I be “cheating” at life out here…? “

Writing the ‘Farang’ Experience in Thailand

Whilst browsing in Asia books in Bangkok looking for a Thai cook book I came across a shelf of books dedicated to the experience of ‘farangs’. Farang is the Thai word for a foreigner of ‘Western’ descent and is in common usage among both Thai’s and Westerners living in Thailand. The word is thought to originate from Indo-Persian term ‘farangi’, which was derived from Arabic (firinjīyah). Its meaning comes from the reference to ‘Franks’, a Germanic tribe who had vast imperial power across the region in the Middle Ages. Today it is used mostly to denote ethnically White migrants in Thailand, although some use it as a generic term meaning ‘foreigner’.

At first glance the majority of books on this shelf relate to the experiences of farang men, many are about their experiences of getting to know the place, the people and forming relationships. The two standout texts are by Dr Iain Corness, a regular contributor to the Pattaya Mail and resident in Thailand for a number of years. In the book he muses on a variety of topics from motoring and immigration to medicine, spirituality and death…all in good humour though. And both books are available on Amazon!

If anyone knows of other books published on this topic please send us a link!

Developing the Beach City of Hua Hin

There have been significant changes to Hua Hin over the past two decades with new condominiums, hotels, tourist bars and restaurants and retail centres opening up to match the demands of foreign tourists and local residents, as well as the aspirations of Hua Hin’s developers. As would be expected there are mixed responses to the development of Hua Hin from a small town to a sprawling conurbation over this period. Here is a shot of one of the famed tourist spots of Hua Hin, Soi Bintabaht, 20 years ago

And here it is today complete with foreign run bars and cafes, multicoloured mopeds, lots more telephone posts and the Hilton hotel in the distance.

Many of those I have spoken to celebrate the changes, welcoming some of the Western conveniences that have come to Hua Hin through its development, such as the ‘lifestyle shopping centre’ Market Village.  Others say the pace and scale of the development in Hua Hin has generated some negative outcomes for lifestyle migrants and Thais, such as the higher cost of housing, the high turnover of businesses, and the displacement of workers from Northern Thailand who moved to Hua Hin during the development boom. Despite the various perspectives on the development of Hua Hin, it is clearly a significant issue that affects the daily lives of lifestyle migrants in different ways. As I analyse more of the data collected in Hua Hin I am sure there will be more to report on this topic.

Special thanks go to one of our research participants in Hua Hin for providing these photos from his personal collection. Thank You!