Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the overwhelming majority of housing surveys I’ve conducted revealed similar impacts on expatriate rental markets. In countries all around the world, the sudden and significant decline in demand has either pushed prices down or allowed for increased negotiability from listing prices. However, there has been one notable exception to that trend – Turkey.
Over the last two years as an AIRINC Research Analyst, I’ve gotten accustomed to the multifaceted approach we take for our quarterly data collection. New assignments are allocated every three months and we fall into a familiar rhythm.
On my most recent trip, I surveyed Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital and most populous city in Tanzania. While conducting my survey, I observed that several areas have developed in order to cater to expatriate needs. While overall availability of goods and services is consistent, certain categories are lacking and require purchases to be made on home leave or through travel to nearby international cities, like Nairobi.
On my recent survey, I visited Botswana. The capital, Gaborone, has roughly three hundred thousand residents and the availability of goods and services is moderate, largely due to the city’s location right on the border with South Africa.
Western rideshare apps have struggled in Turkey. Protests by taxi drivers and government opposition have left these ridesharing companies in a state of uncertainty over the last year. On my recent trip to Ankara and Istanbul, I experienced this firsthand. In Ankara, I tried to use a popular local rideshare app but gave up because it was only available in Turkish despite claims that they support English-speaking users. Apart from the local rideshare app, there was no other rideshare presence in Ankara, and I was entirely reliant on local taxis.
On my most recent trip, I visited Baku, Azerbaijan. The political and economic heart of this oil-wealthy nation, Baku had seen a large exodus of expatriates starting in 2014 due to falling oil prices. These departures and an overall weak economy brought rents down significantly. Over the last two years, rents have started to recover, and the sources I met with indicated moderate price increases in certain areas. While oil prices have rebounded slightly, the primary driver of rising rents is a decrease in the supply of long-term rentals. ]
On my last survey, a five-week trip across Africa, I visited Lagos, Nigeria and Cairo, Egypt, two of the most notorious traffic destinations in the world. These locations lived up to their hype, and I spent a lot of time sitting in traffic. However, I was surprised to find that Nairobi, Kenya’s traffic was almost as bad despite lacking the same level of notoriety. Nairobi’s three main issues are a shortage of stop signs and traffic lights at intersections, poor road quality, and incredible amounts of construction that disrupt traffic routes.
During my survey of Bangkok, I found the multiple transportation systems available for use extremely helpful, especially in comparison to other Southeast Asian cities. In Yangon, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, I was entirely dependent on taxis and rideshare apps, as there are no functioning rail systems, the buses are difficult for foreigners to use, and the cities are not particularly pedestrian friendly. Conversely, in Bangkok, I used a much more balanced mix of rideshare, metro (MRT), Skytrain (BTS), and walking.
In Cairo, expatriates typically use a driver rather than relying on public transportation options. During my August survey I found that, even though taxis have meters, drivers are frustratingly unwilling to use them when driving expats.
When I took the metro at 6am on a Sunday morning in Beijing, trains were running every three minutes. This past quarter I surveyed six cities in China. The largest of these cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu, all have modern and efficient metro systems.