Managing Your Expectations – Relocating to Asia – Part 2

Part 1 of this article can be found by clicking here and focuses on the markets in general and what companies are looking for.

Part 2 – Salary, benefits and holidays

As part of any research into relocation, come the inevitable questions of what you may be able to expect in terms of salary package and working conditions. A lot of candidates ask me whether salaries are much higher due to the continued growth. I would say that salaries are comparable to Western salaries and can sometimes be a little less – the key thing to remember is that in general, the cost of living in Asia can be markedly less than elsewhere so a similar salary or even less can give candidates a very good quality of life. If you are expecting a big uplift in salary I’d say this is unlikely to happen. A lot of candidates see Asia as the next Middle East in terms of earning potential but fail to realise that there is a larger candidate pool already in Asia, something the Middle East lacked during it’s early growth phase. The Middle East had to pay big money to attract new talent into the region and Asia simply doesn’t have to at the moment.

From the Peak – Hong Kongphoto © 2006 eyeSPIVE | more info (via: Wylio)

Alongside salary I’m often asked about other benefits. Will the company pay for relocation? Will they pay for housing? The answer really depends on each company. Some are happy to cover the cost of the initial flights for the candidate and spouse, others expect the candidate to cover this cost. Some will put people up in initial accommodation for the first month but it’s extremely rare for people to receive a long term housing allowance – the only real exception being those at a senior level. Some will offer to cover the cost of relocating belongings but again this is mainly for more senior candidates. Generally speaking, if a candidate doesn’t have prior Asia experience, companies will sometimes test their seriousness to move by getting them to cover their initial relocation costs. After a probation period, with the company suitably reassured, candidates can sometimes be given increase in their salary or a bonus. I would say overall, perks and benefits are comparable to companies in the West and most international, and increasingly local, companies offer very fair remuneration packages.

I’m also asked regularly about hours of work and holidays. The hours do tend to be longer in Asia with companies often working until quite late in the evening. Some people have heard of there being a 6 day week but this has changed a lot in recent years and the majority of companies work the standard 5 day week now. People are often surprised when they receive an offer and find the holiday allowance is less than in the West. In Hong Kong for example, the average annual holiday allowance is around 10-12 days per year. The key thing to remember though is that Hong Kong has a lot of public holidays throughout the year (around 9 or 10 more than the UK) and things such as Chinese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival give people quite long periods of time off work. The same applies for China where there a number of 3-4 day holiday periods during the year.

Mid-Autumn-Festivalphoto © 2008 Gordon Tam | more info (via: Wylio)

It may seem that this article is focusing on the negatives for those looking to relocate. That is not the intention. I’m aiming to provide a guide as to what to realistically expect when looking at the possibility of relocating to Asia. Ultimately it’s an extremely fulfilling region to work in and will undoubtedly offer most people a great life experience to look back on. But it is also important to be aware of the facts and to have a realistic overview should you take the plunge and decide that Asia is for you. As long as you have done your homework, you are committed and understand what you could expect from an offer, there is no reason why you can’t have success. The good thing (and sometimes bad thing) about Asia is that the markets can change quickly, so where this week companies may not be that keen to source international candidates, next week they could land a huge project and need a big team. I do foresee there being a skill shortage in the future and therefore greater opportunities for people to relocate – it’s just a bit tricky to predict when that may be!


3 Responses to Managing Your Expectations – Relocating to Asia – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Managing Your Expectations – Relocating to Asia – Part 1 « Ellicott Long's Blog

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