Switzerland might the happiest country in the world, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to move there any time soon: four Swiss cities are named among the most expensive cities worldwide for international assignees in ECA International’s Cost of Living survey.
The singularly most pricey city in the world, however, rocketing into first place from 9th spot last year, is Juba in South Sudan. Entering the top 10 for the first time are Shanghai (8) and Beijing (9). Having lived in Shanghai myself, I can attest to the high cost of living there – however, don’t let that put you off: there are great opportunities in China for people with the right mindset!
Perhaps you are reading this by the pool with your mates, totally blissed out. You might be thinking “I wish it were like this all the time.” You might also be thinking where can I be happy like this all the time? In other words, which is the happiest nation anywhere on the planet, where people are just…you know…happy?
I can tell you it’s not Malaysia, where I’m presently writing these words, perhaps many people’s notion of “paradise”. There are extraordinarily beautiful beaches, stunning grub available 24/7 and a laid-back lifestyle, and yet there are also visible tensions.
It’s not southern neighbour Singapore, either, a highly developed and educated country in contrast. Friends in the city-state, famous for its competitive kiasu mindset, complain about the cost of housing and work-related stress.
There are grumbles in the UK meanwhile, with not even London escaping criticism.
The number 1 result, according to the latest World Happiness Report, might surprise some. Switzerland, a country more famous for its cuckoo clocks and Roger Federer, is on top of the world:
Northern countries do extremely well, with Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland and Sweden taking 6 of the top 10 spots.
Do you agree with the survey findings? Are you itching to move on? And what does happiness mean to you anyway? Comments please!
I’m taking a break from my favorite Korean TV show, with my favorite Canadian band playing in the background, drinking a cup of Colombian coffee that a German friend brought back to my Shanghai apartment.
At first, I was worried all of this might sound a bit pretentious, but in reality this internationalism is the new normal for many of us. Take a second to think about your global life. I can point to my Dutch buddy working for a Chinese Austrian joint-venture and dating an Irish/Cantonese fashionista. Or another American-Chinese friend who speaks 4 languages, dances Cuban salsa and is dating a Swiss guy, who himself speaks 7 languages and works for a Chinese gaming company. The list goes on and on.
Its stunning how common this is for so many of us now. As our cities become increasingly international, so do our lives. What are the implications of these huge changes? Will our cultures become muddied with foreign values? Will we forget who we really are?
For me, this global lifestyle presents the opportunity to discover a more authentic version of me. The “American” tag that I was born with never quite felt 100% accurate. Yet, for many many years, I blindly lived and worked under some over-generalized stereotype and wondered why was everything a struggle, why others didn’t understand me, why my career didn’t move forward?
Now that I moved cities, met expats and mumbled new languages, I’ve shed that over-simplification in favor of the complex realities of who I really am. I suddenly see in finer shades of grey. All of these diverse points of views has proved useful as I opened my creativity consultancy, Let’s Make Great!, in Shanghai more than 2 years ago. My clients depend on me for fresh ideas, to provoke a unique point of view, and to inspire them to have more of this open mindset as well.
How do my team and I do it?
- Collect experiences – The first step is exploring — to go beyond the superficial depth of “nationalities.” Take the chance that this phenomenal website presents to understand exotic cities, work on meaningful new projects and learn from complete strangers.
- Curate your favorites – discover the things that resonate with you. For me, I realize my humor is mostly Korean “Running Man,” my soundtrack is “Broken Social Scene” and my home is Jingan District, Shanghai. Feel free to pick your favorites and choose yours.
- Create your new identity – Like old t-shirts from the 90’s, allow yourself to let go of old identities. Who do you want to become next? Beyond your past experiences and your favorite things, what
else is out there for you? Its a continuous exploration of who we are to become.
Pico Iyer, the ultimate global citizen, says it best
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.
creativity catalyst & founder of Let’s Make Great!
London increasingly dominates UK headlines these days, from the tedious Heathrow third runway saga to ongoing Tube strikes. It’s arguably mightier than ever; a once exclusively British capital, now a world city and a true city-state in waiting, akin to Singapore sprinting away from laggard Malaysia. But concerns are growing over whether it’s a good place to live.
There is no doubt that London has been enormously successful in recent years, even getting past the 2008 financial crisis with aplomb (while the rest of the nation suffered). The UK capital hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, and celebrated both the Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding:
But despite this, many residents are not happy, it seems, and are packing their bags (and are telling the world they are packing their bags):
Do you currently live in London and share some of the concerns cited? Are you hoping to move to London, perhaps, or have you left already? Interested in your views!
Finding the right job can be tough, especially in these crazily uncertain times. The best approach, in my experience at least, is to build relationships with people to uncover opportunities – what the experts have traditionally called “networking”, but in practice means simply being matey with the right connections. This is what most professionals do when they are not working, i.e. 75% of the time.
But what if you don’t know anyone, for example when starting out? You could “blag” your way in (full marks are often awarded to the bold in life), or you could try the next best thing: a jobs website. Word of warning: not all opportunities are as they appear, as is often the case with recruitment, so stay wary:
- Escape the City – a website sprung from the loins of London’s financial district, Escape the City offers, as the name suggests, exciting opportunities for professionals away from the corporate treadmill. While there are openings with NGOs and startups all over the world, a question remains in my mind after a quick scan: can anyone truly “escape the city” through becoming a Marketing Director or Commercial Analyst?
- Jobbatical – Born in startup-mad Estonia, Jobbatical focuses on listing career break opportunities around the world, away from the day job (job + sabbatical). An intriguing idea, since applicants can combine work with memorable experiences in new countries. And who wants to sit on a beach for 2 weeks anyway?
- Global Nomadic Jobs – Global Nomadic now lists paid jobs, in addition to exciting volunteer experiences and internship placements. There is a tag cloud with “social media” displayed as the biggest term, so I’m guessing that’s what users are mostly interested in!
- Idealist – A website advertising opportunities to people who want to do good in the world, Idealist is currently listing some 13,000 jobs around the world, mostly youth and education-related.
- And lastly, Asia Hired. Run by a mate of mine, hence its inclusion. Robin, I’ll have that beer, thanks.
Have I missed any?