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…? “


2 responses to “What does lifestyle migration mean to you?

  1. One of the things we have to keep thinking about as part of this project is ‘what exactly do we mean by lifestyle migration?’
    Some of our respondents really like it as a term. Apparently, expats in Australia don’t like to call themselves ‘expats’ for various reasons, but they haven’t found an alternative yet. But expats does seem to be a widely used term in Malaysia. What about Thailand? And what do the Hong Kong Chinese in China call themselves?
    Nevertheless, some ‘expats’ in Malaysia have told me they chose to move because they wanted a different lifestyle, a new experience, or to live a different way. The term expats has too many connotations and too much cultural baggage to be useful for such migrants, whereas ‘lifestyle migrant’ enables them to see themselves differently.

  2. This is something I have been analysing in Thailand too. Like in the Malaysian context, some people felt comfortable with the term lifestyle migrant because they prefered to distance themselves from any colonial associations that might be attached to the term expat. Others were more ambivalent to the term and did not readily apply it to themselves. I wonder if this relates simply to the ‘migrant’ label. Reluctance to be labelled as an expat may also extend to labelling as a migrant?

    In terms of the words people used in reference to foreign or Western communities, expat was widely used in online spaces – such as expat social networking sites like Chickynet- but in everyday conversations the Thai word ‘farang’ was much more frequently adopted. I got the impression that many people felt their foreigness in Thailand but not necessarily in a negative way.

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