At the beginning of 2020, I surveyed Fort McMurray, an oil town in northeast Alberta, Canada. In January, there are limited outdoor activities in Alberta, so on a Sunday, it was recommended I go to a “park” walkable from the hotel.
During my Switzerland survey, I found that many people choose to live in Zug for its lower cost of living and lower tax costs compared to neighboring cities Lucerne and Zurich. Zug is just about thirty minutes by train, which makes it a practical choice.
On January 30th, I arrived in Manila to start my recent survey quarter, and the Philippines had just confirmed their first case of COVID-19. I observed what seemed like a swift local response as much of the population was already wearing masks, and hand sanitizer was provided in most hotels and restaurants in the Makati area. One supermarket even advised customers to put on a mask upon entering, but it was not mandatory.
During my recent survey, I visited the Avenue Mall in Manama, a seafront mall stretching for 1.5 km. It reminded me of the Avenue Mall in Kuwait because it provides an outdoor feeling with large glass windows and skylights, while protecting shoppers from the burning sun. As anyone that’s traveled to Bahrain knows, the country is a popular destination for residents of Saudi Arabia seeking recreation and malls are one of the top attractions. Numerous expatriates and Saudi Arabians visit Bahrain for the shopping, movies, restaurants, waterparks, and other activities.
Despite the availability of options, public transportation in Casablanca feels prohibitive. The bus system is not really an option for expats or visitors as the vehicles are old and falling apart. The tram is modern, but stops are limited, and it doesn’t connect with major malls, hotels, or restaurants.
I recently surveyed Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, a city in the far east Russia, for the third time. Given the city’s size, it is easy to notice any changes. Sakhalin Island is developing in accordance with the government’s plan to promote tourism, which would also increase recreation options for expatriates.
Transportation in Mauritius can be challenging for new assignees. Driving is a necessary part of life here as traveling across the island for meetings and activities is common.
Rents in Turkey decreased due to lower demand, the depreciation of the lira, and the economic conditions that resulted from recent government policies and security concerns. A recent change in lease laws required that all contracts be signed and paid in Turkish lira (TRY) instead of USD or EUR.
Over the past decade of surveying Belize City, availability and outlets in our goods and services survey have changed very little. The same two supermarkets remain the best options in town–Brodie’s and Save U. These outlets offer a decent selection of grocery items and some imports, but an assignee may have to visit more than one shop on a shopping trip in order to get particular ingredients.