Tag Archives: Malaysia

The Exhibition is coming! April 24th – May 8th

Please click on the link below to view and download our exhibition poster.

Exhibition Poster



Exhibition 24th April to 7th May Hong Kong University

IMG_0510We are very excited to announce our forthcoming exhibition Lifestyle Migration in Asia – An Interpretive Photography Exhibition(see below). The exhibition will be held in Hong Kong in April/May next year, 2015. We are advertising this you now so that you can fix the date in your diaries if you would like to attend and also to ask if you would consider contributing. It would be really fantastic if you felt able to send us a photograph, or a short video with a small amount of accompanying text telling us how this photo or video illustrates aspects of your life as a migrant in Asia. The final selection of photographs will be made by us, based on quality and available space, but we will do our best to exhibit all that we receive. Please do let us know if you want to know more, and feel free to use the blurb below to advertise the event.

All best wishes: Kate Botterill, Maggy Lee, Karen O’Reilly and Rob Stones


Lifestyle Migration in Asia – An Interpretive Photography Exhibition

The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

24th April to 7th May 2015

Lifestyle Migration is the, often flexible and fluid, movement of relatively affluent people to places that they believe will offer them a better quality of life. There is usually an economic incentive to their mobility, but the search for the good life is paramount in their motivations. Lifestyle migration is an increasingly widespread phenomenon, with effects for migrants, locals, cultural life, and economic life. So, what can we learn about human life from lifestyle migrants? How and why do lifestyle migrants move? What are their needs and aspirations, the joys and challenges, continuities and discontinuities of their mobile lives? What is it about particular destinations that makes them attractive for them?

This photography exhibition offers us a glimpse of the diverse motivations and everyday experiences of Western migrants in Thailand and Malaysia and Hong Kong migrants in mainland China. Through the eyes of participants in our ongoing research project ‘Lifestyle Migration in East Asia’ (www.lifestylemigration.wordpress.com) these photographs reveal fascinating aspects of life ‘on the move’ for men and women, young families and those in retirement. The accompanying excerpts illustrate the interior worlds of migrants in which experiences, loyalties and memories from two places co-exist and combine. Research funded by the ESRC/Hong Kong Research Grants Council: RES-000-22-4357


While things seem to have gone a bit quiet with respect to the Lifestyle Migration in East Asia project, be assured plans are afoot!


Photo taking from web site of the International Women’s Association of Kuala Lumpur.

Exhibition, April 2015

Maggy and Rob are meeting up this week to discuss plans for our forthcoming Exhibition in Hong Kong next April. We will be showcasing elements of our work and we are hoping some of our research participants – YOU – will send us photos and videos about lifestyle migration in Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. There will be a special focus on growing older as migrants and on gendered experiences of lifestyle migration. Watch this space for more.

News Feature

We will soon be having a featured piece in the newsletter of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)

Germans in Hong Kong and Thailand

Meanwhile, you might be interested in reading this policy briefing about Germans living in Hong Kong and Thailand, by Thorsten Nieberg.

Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference, London 2013

RGS_logoKate Botterill and I gave a paper at the Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference. Here is the abstract:

As an introduction to the session on Lifestyle Migration and the state this paper considers how lifestyle migration, as Caroline Oliver (2012) suggests ‘occupies a place at the least regulated end of the continuum’ in relation to the governance of migration’. Using analysis of empirical fieldwork with Western lifestyle migrants living in Thailand and Malaysia, the paper discusses the patchwork governance of lifestyle migration in these states. We argue that national policies and programmes to promote lifestyle migration in East Asia are delegitimized by variable regulatory practice across different scales (local, national and transnational) and in particular places. As such, there are differentiated outcomes of lifestyle migration for Westerners in these states with varied perceptions and experiences of intra-state and trans-state practices. Moreover, the impacts of global financial crises has led to further unpredictable outcomes for lifestyle migrants, with exchange rate differentials causing a material decline in income, particularly among those of pensionable age with frozen (home-) state pensions. The paper concludes by supporting Oliver’s (2012) position and re-asserting a call for further discussion on the desirability and practice of lifestyle migration governance at different scales.

It was great to see almost an entire day in the programme given over to the study of elite/expatriate/lifestyle migrant flows. I started thinking about the longer-term impacts of lifestyle migration and the lessons we can learn from such migrants about wider issues such as how to age well, how to protect quality of life, and how to ameliorate the effects of migration. We have never talked enough about the global power structures that enable lifestyle migration flows. But then again there remains an assumption that these are all affluent people. Matthew Hayes caused us to rethink those assumptions, with his work with poorer Americans moving to Ecuador. 


Who counts as an International?

Following on from my last post, expatriate women confront issues of nationality, communication and inclusion, on a daily basis.

When I did my fieldwork in Malaysia, one of the women’s associations was having discussions about who can and who should not be a member of their International organization. It can be really difficult to determine who to include and who to exclude in such a community. If it was initially established to support ‘expatriate’ women, then how does one determine who is an expatriate? If the word ‘international’ is central to the group’s ethos, how do you decide who is International? Is it defined in opposition to local? Do you really want to exclude locals? And what if a local is married to a migrant?

In our project we use the term ‘lifestyle migrant’ to refer to people who have moved abroad for better quality of life, recognizing that some groups are able to privilege this over other (economic, political security) considerations. But lifestyle migrants can be corporate expats, nomads, travelers, self-employed workers, retirees, unemployed, and any nationality. Members of international and expatriate associations are increasingly mixed in terms of nationality and so are some individuals!

Unsung heroes: Western Women in Malaysia

sal n kateOne of the things I have been very impressed with in Malaysia is the range of things the ‘expat’ women are doing. Women are actively ensuring the quality of the ‘good life’ for themselves and their families, but also for locals, and for other groups living in the destination. Women do incredible work, much of it voluntarily, unpaid, and with little recognition.

First of all there are the amazing organisations, for example, the International Women’s Association Penang, the Association of British Women in Malaysia, and St Patrick’s Society of Selangor. I met women from each of these organisations and was really impressed with the work they are doing.

Their activities include: social events that bring together people of diverse nationalities; educational events, where the members learn about the cultures and habits of other nationalities, often from each other; fundraising events for diverse local and national charities; and that is not to mention al the work the women (sometimes men) have to do to run these organisations and their newsletters! (I am sure if any Western Women in Malaysia are reading this you can tell me more!)

I also met many individual women who are working voluntarily in children’s homes, at schools, and with numerous charities that support the handicapped, the deaf and blind, animal charities, and charities for those who are suffering ill health. These women not only support the work of the organisation, but also support each other in their voluntary work through coffee mornings, meetings, and the sharing of emotional and practical support.

Above all, I got the sense that life in Malaysia was something to enjoy (hence our term lifestyle migration) and that women are:

1) working hard to help each other make the best of their lives, and

2) working equally hard to learn about and give something back to the society that hosts them.



Lifestyle Migration in The Expat Magazine

theexpat-june2013Some of the findings from our survey have been published in the June Issue of The Expat Magazine. Click here to read the article (and the rest of this great magazine)