Relocating is already a challenge, but relocating during a pandemic adds a new level of difficulty. After years of surveying based in AIRINC’s Cambridge office, I was honored to accept a position at our Hong Kong branch late last year. From the beginning, I was excited to move to a vibrant global city, but the logistics proved more challenging than expected as a novel coronavirus (at the time still unnamed) spread in January. Even before being declared a pandemic, COVID-19 was having a broad and unpredictable impact across the globe.
During a recent survey quarter, I had the pleasure of surveying Athens, Greece. While I was on-site, I encountered several protests and demonstrations, which allowed me to really feel like an assignee, navigating the change of social disruption.
The rental housing market is slowly picking back up in Aberdeen after the slump in global oil and gas prices. Despite current events like Brexit and climate change concerns, the oil and gas industry is seeing a slow but steady revival in this coastal city, bringing in more expatriates who are increasing the demand for good quality housing.
East Timor, or Timor-Leste as it is known in one of its official languages, Portuguese, is a small country in Southeast Asia just north of Australia across the Timor Sea. It is one of the world’s youngest nations and still feels relatively undeveloped. The main expatriate population comes from embassies, NGOs, aid organizations, and banks.
During my November 2018 survey, the dollar-to-rupee exchange rate showed minimal fluctuation. When I exchanged money in my hotel in Mumbai, I received new, crisp green 500- and pink 2000-rupee banknotes, along with the older, lower denomination notes of 10-,20-, and 100-rupees. Throughout the five major cities that I surveyed, all the 500- and 2000-rupee banknotes that I transacted were part of the new series.
This past quarter I surveyed Saint-Denis, Reunion, an isolated island that was a fascinating mélange of French and Creole cultures. Reunion Island is an overseas department and region of France located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. Its capital and economic center is Saint-Denis.
AIRINC’s onsite Surveyors investigate topics of international interest, including hardship situations. My colleague, Yimkwan Tsang, wrote about the water crisis in Cape Town after her February 2018 survey. At that time, Cape Town was expected to run out of water as early as June. However, this event, known as Day Zero, kept getting pushed back.
The HCMC Metro is a rapid transit project that has been in the works since 2001. Over the years, it has attracted international attention due to construction accidents and budgeting issues that have delayed construction of even the first line, which broke ground in 2008.
I surveyed three cities in the country from mid-January to early February of this year and I found citizen and expat opinions of the reforms to be mixed.
We’ve all seen pictures of hazy Beijing streets with people walking in masks, and that image is not far from the reality I found while on survey.