As 2011 winds down, I’m beginning to inventory myself on what I want to do in 2012 — and high on the list of priorities is finding a new place to live. Although I’ve been lucky enough to visit more than a dozen new countries this year, I long more than anything to live in Asia again.
If you don’t already know, I lived in Shanghai, China from November 2009-July 2010, working first as a teacher of English as a second language (ESL), then briefly as a contributor to the CNNGo website. I’ve additionally traveled extensively in Southeast Asia: I spent well over a month in Bangkok, Thailand alone over the course of my three visits there, for example.
Travelers are especially prone to thinking the grass is greener on the other side, so I’ve been careful not to build up false expectations built off romanticized memories of a past that wasn’t quite as rosy as it seems in my head. This being said, it has been my experience that Asia offers the best quality of life for expats, no matter which set of metrics you use to qualify it.
In spite of the difficulties and headaches I encountered during my first weeks and months in Shanghai, I look back on the time I spent living in Asia fondly. In fact, I consider returning there more seriously with each passing day.
When I first set off to Shanghai at the end of 2009, it was after having lived in the post-recession United States without a job for the better part of the year. As if the difficult financial circumstances I’d endured hadn’t been enough, the constant barrage of gloom and doom from the media, politicians and even people in my daily life was a huge psychological weight on my already troubled mind.
If you know anything about current affairs, it’s no secret that Asia — and, in particular, China — is in a period of unprecedented economic growth at the moment. The region has long since emerged from its own recession, which occurred in the 1990s when the West was booming — and in a big way. This has resulted in cities and countries where work is plentiful and where the vast majority of the population is working and experiencing a progressive increase, rather than a decrease, in their standards of living.
One esoteric side effect of a healthy economy is a decidedly positive mood, whether you watch the news, listen to politicians speak or just interact with people on the streets. It was inspiring and motivating to walk down Shanghai’s busy Hengshan Road and see buildings going up, people out and about and things just generally happening.
Read more about Robert Schrader’s experience in Asia at leaveyourdailyhell.com/2011/12/01/why-you-should-move-to-asia/