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| 6 minutes read

ICYMI: Eyes up! It's a new year and things are changing!

Before jumping into our locational updates, let's start with a reminder that our Plus Global Mobility Trends Survey is currently live! The survey should only take 10-15 minutes of your time. Your data and the information you provide will help all of us better prepare for what 2023 has to throw at us. After the survey closes, we'll put together a comprehensive report and share it with everyone that participates. 

ICYMI, there are plenty of things going on! Let's consider Lunar New Year, travel insights and other possible impacts to global mobility in locations around the world. We're hopping into what is happening: 

  1. China: China finally opened its borders on January 8th by abolishing all quarantine requirements for incoming travelers. Per Worldwide ERC, as China relaxed its Covid-19 travel restrictions, many countries have responded to prevent a new wave of infections. Both the U.S. and the U.K. have implemented mandatory pre-flight tests for Chinese travelers, while South Korea now requires testing upon arrival into their country.  According to Reuters, the Chinese Ministry of Transport forecasts an incredible two billion trips within China in the next 40 days—a whopping 100% increase from last year's figure—largely owing to the commencement of Chinese New Year celebrations. Many countries have imposed restrictions on travelers from China, and you can catch up on these here. China recorded more than 12,600 virus deaths ahead of the Lunar New Year migration. At the same time, Reuters reports China's Covid-19 rebound over the next few months is remote. From Dean Foster, GUNG XI FA CAI! Ten top tips to help you celebrate Asian Lunar New Year…everywhere!
  2. Thailand: A recent immigration update (as of Jan 10) explains that travelers to Thailand are no longer required to show proof of vaccination or Covid-19 test results.  However, travelers from China and India must provide a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result before departure to Thailand. Travelers from those two locations must have health insurance of at least $10,000.
  3. Japan: Japan starts 2023 with the world’s most powerful passport, allowing visa-free entry to 193 global destinations, according to the latest Henley Passport Index, which the country tops for the fifth consecutive year. Tied for second place were Singapore and South Korea. Germany and Spain were the top passports in EMEA region, and The U.S. tied for 7th. For the last 18 years, the Henley Passport Index is the only one of its kind based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). The index gets updated quarterly, includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also considering easing advice to wear a mask indoors along with lowering Covid’s official classification to the same level as influenza in the coming months. According to Bloomberg, people are still afraid of catching Covid in Japan for health reasons, and also because a weeklong quarantine period remains in place for anyone who tests positive. Additionally, heavy snow blanketed wide swaths of Japan, snarling traffic, forcing hundreds of flight cancelations, disrupting train travel and leaving at least one person dead.
  4. Ireland: PerchPeek International has shared a number of updates as it relates to Ireland. According to the InterNations Expat 2022 report, Dublin ranked second out of 50 cities in the Working Abroad Index (beaten only by Copenhagen). It ranked high in career prospects, work & leisure, salary and job security, and work culture. The paradox is that it also ranked worst in the Quality of Life Index, averaging out at 37th place overall. In our Dec 13th post, we touched on the housing situation in Ireland. In 2022, asking prices rose by 6% YoY, which was less than previous years (8.1% in 2021 and 7.7% in 2020). In fact, the rate of asking price inflation even fell marginally in Q4 2022. Rising interest rates mean the number of mortgage applications is declining, having a knock-on effect on prices. We're keeping an eye on how this will impact rents. Speaking of rents, don't forget that Ireland has a net salary based income-to-rent ratio that needs to be met, which can be challenging for some employees moving there.
  5. Germany: Per our friends at AIRINC, in some rental markets, it is common practice for certain utility costs to be included in rent. In Germany, nebenkosten may include maintenance for shared areas, elevators, water, and heating. Due to the rising cost of utilities, the increased nebenkosten resulted in higher rents for apartments. In addition, a lack of supply versus demand in major cities like Frankfurt, Hamburg, Mainz, and Munich also contributed to rent increases. The Local reports that "In most cases, the consensus is that slight price corrections should be expected - but nobody is expecting anything as dramatic as the bursting of a housing bubble."
  6. Netherlands: As a measure to tackle the crippling shortage of rental properties in the Netherlands, the government has announced the introduction of rent caps nationwide from January 2024. PerchPeek says rental prices will be capped on over 300,000 homes to help middle-income tenants. The rental price of those properties will be cut by an average of €190 per month. The maximum rent of the properties will be approximately €1,100. Maybe a little far off, but landlords may take the opportunity to raise rent prices now! Others may choose to sell if they feel renting their property will no longer be viable, adding to the shortage of properties. Stay tuned!
  7. Spain: According to Crisis24, air traffic controllers at 16 Spanish airports will be striking on Jan. 30th. The strike relates to ongoing disputes with employers over pay and working conditions; further strikes are planned each Monday through Feb. 27th. This is expected to impact travel into, out of and within Spain during this timeframe. For those with mobility activity into Spain, this article from The Local (Property in Spain: What changes about renting and buying in 2023?) will help to catch you up on limits to rent increases, new housing laws, the possible restrictions on foreign buyers, and property forecasts.
  8. Brazil & Argentina: These two countries are renewing conversations about forming a common currency for financial and commercial transactions. Time Magazine notes that as the two largest economies in South America, there is a vision that this could overcome barriers to currency exchange, simplify and modernize the rules, and promote the use of local currencies. If this were to happen, other Latin American nations would be invited to join the plan which could create the world’s second-largest currency union. The project is likely to take many years to come to fruition before it will have much impact on global mobility.
  9. United States: Per Insider, it looks like it may get more expensive for bringing employees into the U.S., as the USCIS is proposing an increase in the fees that companies have to pay to sponsor those visas by as much as $600 an applicant. It would be the first such fee increase since 2016. While the proposed fee hikes are presented as a solution to end backlogs and address bureaucratic headaches, experts say they would make it more difficult to hire foreign talent, notably impacting the tech industry which relies on skilled-work visas. Conversations at Davos showed that top U.S. policymakers are pushing for a comprehensive deal on immigration and some feel that the immigration system may be the biggest threat to the U.S. economy. Additionally, heavy snowfall is forecasted across parts of the southern and central US through at least Jan. 26th. This page from Dwellworks will catch you up on U.S. rental market that is being impacted by interest rates, increasing supply, a leveling demand, and vacancy rates that are heading back to pre-pandemic levels. A standout quote: "Overall, for early 2023, most economists predict a more stable rental market generally, with all eyes on interest rates and cost of living, employment, and recession indicators. Certain markets remain very tight, notably key neighborhoods in New York City and in Los Angeles, but even in those markets, the rate of rental increase has decreased, and more inventory is available."  
  10. Canada: Housing isn't following quite the same story in Canada, where it is expected that Vancouver and Toronto will continue to see sharp growth in rents. Dwellworks comments that "Unlike in the US, there is a continued shortage of apartment units and new construction is not expected to provide relief for several years. The country’s key employment hubs continue to attract talent, including those emigrating to Canada." If you are moving people to these two cities in Canada, expect limited inventory and accelerating costs.
BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The number of COVID patients needing critical care in China's hospitals has peaked, health authorities said on Thursday, as millions travelled across the country for long-awaited reunions with families, raising fears of fresh outbreaks. There has been widespread scepticism over China's official COVID data since it abruptly axed anti-virus controls last month that had shielded China's 1.4 billion people from the disease for three years.


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