The Top 4 Myths About Asia’s Business Community

plaza-de-seul-corea-del-sur_2632376In recent years, economies in countries such as China and Singapore have been booming, and many people in Western nations are starting to turn their eyes to Asia. Indeed, various countries in Asia are developing quickly and this creates high demand for professionals to fulfill certain jobs.

Perhaps you are someone who is considering moving abroad in order to further your career, or maybe you’re a recent college grad (or soon to be college grad) and you feel that your job prospects may be better abroad than in your home country. If that’s the case, do your research before you take that step! There are a lot of pros and cons to living in Asia and quite a few myths which can lead you astray. I’m here to help you in your endeavors by debunking four common myths about living and working Asia:

1. Cost of living in Asia is cheap.

This is partially true and partially false. Yes, many countries in Asia are extremely inexpensive to live in (consider Cambodia and Thailand as examples of this) but there are plenty of places which are exceptionally pricy. Take into account that Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong have been consistently listed as some of the most expensive places in the world, and you’ll get the idea. Cost of living should be one of the first things you look at when you’re moving abroad to Asia. If you’re planning on entering a field where the pay doesn’t seem quite high enough for you to live comfortably in Singapore, for example, then perhaps you should consider a different country as your point of entry into Asia.

2. English is a common language.

If you move to Asia under the assumption that English is the only language you need, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. In my personal experience, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines are all countries which use English extensively in everyday life, but it’s still very useful to have somewhat of a grasp on Mandarin, Tagalog, or Cantonese. These three countries in particular are known for their lack of emphasis on speaking English. Be sure to invest in those language lessons so you can tackle Asia head on!

Image 83. Finding a job is easy.

Again, this depends on where you go and how high the demand is for your field. I would recommend making sure you have a job set up prior to moving abroad – this can save you quite a bit of trouble. I’ve known many expats who moved overseas on a whim thinking that jobs would fall into their laps and instead ended up struggling for months on end to find work. I’ve found that the best way to go about your job search is by looking at online expat forums for the country you’re interested in. Most will not only feature job ads, but will also have helpful commentaries from expats already living and working in Asia.

4. It’s easy to start a business in Asia.

Asia has a huge and diverse market which is just waiting to be tapped into. But while there are numerous opportunities for new businesses and start-ups in Asia, be careful about how you approach it. You will need to take a lot of time to form and nurture local relationships in the countries you wish to work in. India, for example is notorious for the red tape which causes many start-up businesses to grind to a halt. If you really want to be able to jump right in to helping your business grow, having a local connection can do wonders. A local will know how to maneuver around red tape, will prevent you from being taken advantage of, and will ensure that you have all the right paperwork and government documents properly filled out. If you put in the time to make sure you know the right people, starting a business in Asia become exponentially easier to manage.

Even though moving abroad is a big risk and can seem like a huge challenge, don’t be overwhelmed by the immensity of this big change.  Start with a strong foundation: if you’re planning on heading to China, Taiwan, or Japan, look into language classes. Check how good your language skills are with a free online language test and inquire to find out how to further your language studies. A good experience starts with a single step –bust through these 4 myths, and you’ll be on your way to a seamless business endeavor in no time!