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Expatriation: 6 destinations to rebuild your life -

This article is from Management magazine


"Shanghai is a very different city from the rest of China, says Mike Assef. It is very modern, a lot of business is done there and a large number of companies are created there. Conferences, fairs and events are organized every day for entrepreneurs. It's unique. We exchange information there. It's more than networking, it's real mutual aid." A graduate in marketing, Mike worked for four years in Cambodia in the hotel and event industry before settling in Shanghai in 2011. In 2015, he co-founded Culture Shock, an agency offering themed cycling tours in the city. "The initial idea was to show the places we liked to friends who came to visit us. We didn't always have time to accompany them. We aimed at expatriates who had the same problem as us."

The focus is on non-touristy places in Shanghai. Culture Shock is launching with 10-15 bikes and riding at a good speed thanks to word of mouth. "We then turned to tourists, to whom we also offer walking tours. Travel agencies supported us. We also do team building and learning expeditions for groups like Carrefour or Decathlon. Shanghai is so far ahead over time that we discover the consumer trends of the next ten or twenty years.Stores use virtual reality, offering immersive glasses to visualize clothing or make-up.For fashion, entertainment accompanies shopping. Supermarkets go offline and online in the same place to optimize sales."

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What about installing in China? "A few years ago, it was still quite easy, tempers Mike. China was Peru. Everyone came there to try their luck. That has changed. Obtaining a work permit is more complicated. A system points has recently been introduced based on language level, education and other criteria.The job market has become very competitive, but there are still very promising sectors in technology, IT, code, marketing, security, branding..."

His advice: "Learn Chinese before you leave. It really makes all the difference and will facilitate your integration."

- Shanghai is a megalopolis of more than 24 million inhabitants.

- Obtaining a visa and work permit is now complicated. Competition in the labor market is strong.

- A surveillance system observes the population at every street corner. Big Brother is real.

- Access to information and the Internet is increasingly complicated. Google does not work in China and the VPN system may work less in the future.

- Daily life remains inexpensive. A taxi ride of a few kilometers represents 2 euros, the metro ticket is less than 50 cents.

- A two-room apartment of 60 m2 rents between 980 and 1,160 euros.

- The feeling of living "already" in the future, of observing or taking part in the consumer world of tomorrow. Everything here is paid for, among other things, using the WeChat application.

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After studying history and political science at the Sorbonne, Eléonore Gaspa Nidelet set off on a trip to India with her friend Ophélie. Moving abroad is a squeeze, as is the idea of ​​starting a business. "During this trip, she says, we had thought of lots of ideas related to tourism. Jaipur is a bit of a coincidence. The city is a tourist hub. We thought that we could offer tourists a fun and authentic experience, by bike, closer to local life through guided tours." Cyclin'Jaipur was born in 2013. "In India, everything takes ten times longer than in France, especially in the administrative part. Getting a paper is a real challenge, nothing is precise. Everything is tedious. It you have to be accompanied by someone, especially since at the beginning you don't understand anything, continues Eléonore. We called on the network of French expatriates and asked them for advice. In India, nothing is done without an accountant , for example."

After writing a business plan, the two friends invest in bicycles. Cyclin'Jaipur is moving up a gear thanks to a few lines in Le Guide du routard and Lonely Planet. "It helped us a lot at the time." Drawing on her experience in tourism, Eléonore founded her own travel agency specializing in India, Carnet de voyages, in 2018. It offers tours off the beaten track. “I have a local partner who owns 1% of the company and I own 99%. have between 1,100 and 1,500 euros in a company account."

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A sector that would be successful in Jaipur? "There is a lack of bars, places of culture, cafés with events and concerts, arthouse cinemas... But, if there are none, it is also because the tastes of the Indians are special. In Jaipur, the public is still very closed. There is a small community of foreigners, but I'm not sure that's enough to keep this kind of place running. Market research is essential. For the textile and jewellery, you really have to know about it. On the other hand, there are a lot of things to do in India in terms of services, personal assistance sites or real estate sites."

His advice: "Get help from expatriates already living there to get started right away. Starting with shopping: for a Westerner, it's three times the price!"

Expatriation : 6 destinations pour refaire sa vie -

- Temperatures that can rise to more than 40°.

- Road traffic, nobody seems to know the rules of the road – you have to get used to it.

- Pollution.

- Prices to be negotiated.

- Administrative slowness.

- The price of imported food products.

- The "Pink City" looks provincial.

- Its economy is based on tourism, but also on the textile industry and precious stones.

- Its workforce is inexpensive and highly experienced.

- The low cost of living. A decent two-piece costs between 350 and 400 euros.

- We speak English.


"I worked for the Boston Consulting Group, but I was tired of being in an office in Paris. My dream was to create a company abroad", explains Freddy Houdart. Ten years ago, he launched and set up the Simaje company in Casablanca. "We do corporate graphics, ie all the PowerPoints of large groups, financial centers or pharmaceutical laboratories. We also have an IT development and logistical support component." Why Morocco? "The country offers great political stability and it has kept very strong ties with France. They speak French there. But beware, there are several Moroccos, that of the big cities and that of the villages, where we still go fetch water from the well, not to mention illiteracy."

The choice of Casablanca seemed obvious to Freddy. "Marrakech is a city for tourists and French retirees, Rabat is the administrative capital and Casa is the economic lung of the country. It is the real hub of Morocco, where everything happens. And then, Casablanca has the opening of spirit of large cities. There are people from all walks of life, French, English, Belgians, Spaniards... It is pleasant to live in thanks to the sea. And then there are plenty of facilities when you have nannies are, for example, easy to find and at fair prices." Freddy has outsourced a skill and taught it to others. Its biggest competitors today are in India.

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However, the beginnings were not easy. "The Internet, ten years ago, was Berezina. Today it works very well. We have fiber optics. Casablanca, and Morocco in general, is developing a lot of infrastructure. We can now access premises at international security standards. This is important for us because we are subject to very strict confidentiality standards for our major clients. Morocco offers me this security. It is one of the strong points of the country."

His advice: "Come with a real skill and not with the idea of ​​finding people here who will have this skill."

- A country that is still very bureaucratic and administrative.

- Corruption.

- The price of the car, more expensive than in France, and the lack of public transport.

- The difficulty for a woman to sit alone on the terrace of a café. It doesn't happen much yet.

- Casablanca, by the sea, offers a pleasant quality of life in an architectural environment of the 1930s.

- The still low cost of living. An 80 m2 apartment costs around 700 euros per month.

- Cultural and geographical proximity to France.

- The quality of life and the warm welcome.

- Morocco is one of the Maghreb countries most open to investment. The Casablanca Finance City offers an economic and financial hub open to all of Africa.


"We are not going to settle in Oslo for the climate, but for love or for work. And we stay there for the quality of life", underlines Kéa Ostovany. It is for love that she settled in 2011 in the suburbs of Oslo, to join her companion Viking. Today, she goes by boat to work after dropping off her daughter at the nursery, located on the edge of the fjord. “In Norway, the central values ​​revolve around family and nature. People's identity is not linked to work and everyone is considered as a whole.

His well-being reflects on the company. For example, it is common to pick up your children from school at 3:30 p.m. and to work in the evening once they have gone to bed. Children remain a priority. In the company, collaboration between colleagues takes precedence over hierarchy. We trust people so they "give" more." In everyday life, the sense of civic-mindedness and community is very strong, illustrated by dugnad, cooperative volunteering.

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After a Master's in Management at Sciences Po, Kéa Ostovany worked for five years at the Théâtre du Rond Point in Paris before creating her company in Norway to coach executives in leadership and public speaking. "My change in professional life was not radical. I had one foot in management and the other in culture. I use it a lot today as a senior consultant within Implement Consulting Group, a consulting and training company headquartered in Denmark.We work all over the world and in France where we have clients including Air Liquide, Paris Airport and Saint-Gobain...I train leaders, particularly in storytelling .

At the Théâtre du Rond Point, I made the link between the director and the actor, the vision of one and the interpretation of the other. I realized that the issues of understanding and application were the same in management. Everyone's involvement is essential, especially in times of change and restructuring of a company. I also draw a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian culture, which I then adapt to the country." Definitely bicultural, Kéa has been a French foreign trade advisor in Norway since last year.

His advice: Get closer to existing networks on the spot, such as the alumni of Sciences Po or the Franco-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce.

- Oslo is a capital but it offers a small provincial side, without insecurity. It is a low-stress city, in particular thanks to its immediate proximity to nature.

- The population density is very low. There is little tension, the unemployment rate is very low.

- The balance between professional life and private life is privileged.

- The winter is very long and the light is then very reduced. During this period, people stay at home a lot.

- Parisian cultural life can sometimes be lacking.

- A coffee costs between 4 and 5 euros, a two-room apartment around 1,500 euros.

New York

He grew up in Arles and settled in Paris before making the leap to the United States at the turn of the century. Since then, Paul-Edouard Laurens has worked as production manager. He works on feature films and for television, and has recently moved into advertising to preserve his family life. The first years he spent in Los Angeles where he married an American. "LA was the most important audiovisual production center and offered many opportunities. This is a little less true today. Many television series are now filmed in New York, in particular thanks to Tax Credit. As for advertisements, the market has changed a lot in recent years because productions have gone abroad: Bangkok, Prague, Vancouver, Mexico City, South Africa... There are of course still projects in New York, in particular those with muses or top models who live there."

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In 2007, Paul-Edouard Laurens moved to New York with his wife. "We chose this city when it came to having a child. The quality of education is very good and there are many work opportunities. It was also to be closer to my family in France." New York is only a few hours flight from his native country. "The noise hit me when I arrived. We felt constantly attacked. The prices were maddening. Getting from point A to B was very expensive." How does he view New York today? "It's a city that doesn't represent the United States. It sends back an idealized image of what the country would like to be. New York is cosmopolitan, liberal, adventurous and pioneering, cool and progressive... It has kept a great European influence. The rest of America is not necessarily like that.

New York is geared towards work culture. One can start at the bottom of the ladder and move up the ladder quickly with determination and hard work. At first, you shouldn't count your hours and even less think about vacations." Although he started on the West Coast, Paul-Edouard illustrates this evolution well. After his baccalaureate, he did theater and photography and learned gradually learned the tricks of the trade as an intern, assistant director and production assistant to finally become production manager.

In New York, he now observes major changes in advertising related to social networks. "Before, it was quite simple, a spot for television was 30 seconds and, for the cinema, 60 seconds. But the durations have multiplied for the different media and social networks. Now it's 5, 7 , 10, 15, 20, 30, 45 and 60 seconds. It's very complicated because telling a story in this time frame is difficult. There is little consistency and advertising suffers. We are also asked to multiply the formats. Again, it is very difficult to make a good frame for a square, horizontal and rectangular format at the same time.

For Instagram, the same product will have ten or fifteen variations with the Making Of, the Behind the Scene, the interviews with the actors, the print and the video for the social content... We are now asked to film the actors against the background white to animate the social media for the next two years. Not to mention that budgets have been considerably reduced. Professionals are highly unionized here. The only way to play with the budget is to reduce the number of shooting days and therefore the artistic ambitions. "

In this hyper-competitive universe, Paul-Edouard Laurens recently signed a campaign for Calvin Klein and will soon be making a feature film. This year, the summer holidays will wait. He will only have one week to return to France. And relax in his country house.

His advice: Prepare your trip in advance and have enough savings to live 6 months without income.

- It is an energizing city full of opportunities, at the forefront in many areas. It offers a cultural and societal melting pot.

- Very active at the cultural level, it is also at the confluence of many routes for travellers.

- It is on the Atlantic coast and not so far from France.

- It's a very stressful and noisy city. She is very expensive.

- Moving from one point to another takes a long time.

- New Yorkers are workaholics. The company does not offer any particular support.

- We have to manage on our own.

- A rental studio costs between 1,800 and 2,000 dollars, a two-room apartment between 2,700 and 8,000 dollars. A beer costs around 10 dollars in a bar.


In the premises of Kesato, the air conditioning is running at full speed. Outside it is 30 degrees all year round. Created in Paris, this digital agency has been based on the west coast of Bali for seven years. Grégory Galliard, 40, leads a team of 42 people. "We started as a couple, in Paris. I could never have developed so much in France where people always asked me where I came from and what I had done before. In Bali, he never there are no prejudices and far fewer obstacles to entrepreneurship."

In a past life, Grégory Galliard bought indebted companies to perk them up and resell them. When he discovered Bali in 2007, he was won over and came back as the owner of lost land in the middle of the rice fields. In 2009, he launched with a partner Kesato, a digital production, web marketing strategy and site creation agency. Kesato started producing content in France, but after two cases that left him with a bitter taste, he moved his company… to Bali.

This decision caused "a lot of misunderstanding around me. The island was not identified as a destination for entrepreneurs. People imagined a beach of turquoise water with wooden huts like Robinson Crusoe." Error ! Bali, today, is also an abundant offer of bars, restaurants, shops, villas and hotel complexes. And an ultra-dynamic digital community connected to the whole world.

The beginnings are not so simple, however. "I invested a lot in the first years. It's not easier than in France, things here require great patience to understand how it works and not to be fooled." One of the main difficulties: recruiting employees who are sufficiently qualified to meet the standards expected by the company's American, European and Australian customers. "Finding and training local developers in-house took a lot of time." The team is made up entirely of Indonesians, while each division of the agency remains led by a French-speaking expatriate to ensure strong leadership.

Today, Kesato is diversifying: top-of-the-range boat tours, crowdfunding platform, bamboo fiber household linen, photo studio... For his part, Grégory Galliard is making real estate projects profitable with the rental of villas on the islands. neighboring Lembongan and Ceningan. No regrets ? Grégory smiles: "Look at the quality of life. Here, we take care of ourselves while working in the tropics and living in a beautiful villa. And the feeling of freedom is immense." But it's not the holidays for all that: "Those who think that Bali is the promised land often leave empty-handed."

His advice: "At first, you have to work harder than in France to get there. But it's like hazing to deserve the good life!"

- The Balinese are welcoming, tolerant and smiling.

- The island offers many opportunities to take care of yourself: massage parlors, yoga classes, meditation centers...

- Surfing enthusiasts are well served.

- The rice fields are disappearing at high speed under the real estate projects.

- All wine production is imported: hard to find a good bottle!

- Traffic is often hellish because of the lack of road infrastructure.

- Plastic waste is poorly managed and litters the beaches.

- Plane ticket: 900 euros, with a stopover in Bangkok or Singapore.

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