The Project

The Lifestyle Migration in East Asia Project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, grant ref: RES-000-22-4357

It started in 2012 to capture the motivations, experiences and outcomes of lifestyle migration in Thailand, Malaysia and China. The multi-institutional project team consists of Professor Karen O’Reilly and Dr Kate Botterill (Loughborough University), Professor Rob Stones (Essex University), Dr Maggy Lee (University of Hong Kong). This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and The Research Grants Council, Hong Kong.

The research aims to increase the effectiveness of services and policy relevant to lifestyle migrants, and thus to enhance quality of life through improved health and social welfare, and to enhance mutual understanding in lifestyle destinations.

Lifestyle migration involves an increasing number of locations as both sending communities and destinations, but most of the existing literature has only looked at this phenomenon in Western contexts, thereby generating assumptions about the nature of what constitutes ‘the good life’ and the processes, experiences and constraints of migration in different social and cultural contexts. Existing work, similarly, has overlooked impacts, which we argue are best understood in the context of the ongoing migration process, its developing nature and the changing cultures and institutions that emerge. Our research aims to address these gaps in conceptual and empirical literature by the following methods.

Life history interviews in Hong Kong/China with Hong Kong migrants (including working and retired, men and women, of all social backgrounds).

As this is a new topic for this group these interviews will learn about them as individuals, their way of life, how they negotiate the good life, what it means, what motivated them, how they live, do they work, do they mix with locals, how do they construct their communities, how do they symbolise boundaries, do they reproduce or adapt class divisions?

Interviews with British migrants to Thailand and Malaysia

These life history interviews will take place in UK or in the destination. Here, as we are already more familiar with British as lifestyle migrants, we can be more adventurous, focusing more on the role of cultural change and exchange, on the changes that earlier migration has brought about and that influence subsequent searches for the good life in these destinations (and thereby begin to understand some of the long-term outcomes for Britain and the receiving countries).

Email interviews with British lifestyle migrants to Malaysia and Thailand

These will be more exploratory, trying to get an overall view on how many, what sorts of lifestyle, to what extent is this about lifestyle migration and the good life, what motivated and continues to motivate these migrants, how do they live, and how do they interact with other communities?

Social media analysis (facebook, forums, chat rooms, blogs, twitter and other digital communication).

This will yield insights into connections between migrants and others, and can address many questions around identity, ethnicity, community, and transnationalism.

Video and photo diaries with British in Thailand and Malaysia

Here we will ask participants to produce their own video or photographic diaries to tell us about quality of life in their various ‘homes’. This will also work as a pilot study for future research using these techniques. Using these digital technologies we will also start to examine the role of technology in motivating, aiding, and shaping lifestyle migration and its outcomes.

If you are a lifestyle migrant yourself, or have an interest in this topic and wish to talk to us, we would love to hear from you.


One response to “The Project

  1. Caroline Knowles

    See Caroline Knowles and Douglas Harper (2009) Hong Kong: Migrant Lives, Landscapes and Journeys, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

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