When the foreigners come, what happens to the locals?
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In a display of extreme tone-deafness, Forbes published an article titled: Quit Your Job And Move To An Island: 15 Places So Cheap You Might Not Have To Work.
The article is aimed at affluent Americans looking to enjoy “a permanent vacation” by moving to an island “so cheap you don’t have to work”.
The article is based off of a new report by International Living, a magazine and website devoted to good-value living, travel, investment and retirement abroad. (Funnily enough, it always includes travelling somewhere cheaper, like Southeast Asian countries.)
The article notes that one can stay in Penang Island, living a luxurious life with just $1,500 (about RM6,500) a month.
Wrath of the islanders
Naturally, this drew the ire of actually citizens living on such “cheap islands”.
If you’re going to an island your own fuckin country,do it. Quit job and live on an island. Live on fruits and fishes. But if you’re coming to another countries,NO. GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR LAND,YOU COLONISER— ⟭⟬ 🇲🇾 airaa 🇲🇾 ⟬⟭ (@_musangPutih) May 3, 2021
Passages like this “Formerly a secret divers’ getaway, Roatan is now a livable island haven that’s popular with expats. Think white-sand beaches, rocky coves, colorful fishing villages and a mountainous jungly interior” literally ignore the fact that it is someone’s HOME— Dr. Maya (@drdrmaya) May 2, 2021
So, anyone from first world countries want to get deported again from third world country….like….Indonesia? 😆— Dwiyana Syahputri (@tr4veldysy) May 3, 2021
Not surprisingly, these first-world country fantasies of living in a tropical island and being rich simply due to exchange rates, spurred on by the idea of being “digital nomads”, lead to many hopeful colonists breaking the law.
Just earlier this year, an American individual, while showing off her luxurious lifestyle in Bali while working as a freelancer earning USD, implied that she overstayed her tourist visa and does not pay taxes for money earned while staying there.
As a result, she and her partner were deported back to the US.
However, this is only one such example of foreigners living in “cheap” countries, sometimes illegally, and taking advantage of the cheaper exchange rates offered, often leading to more inflation for locals who actually live in those countries.
This is happening in Malaysia as well, where property prices are sky-high and unaffordable for locals.
There is a massive overhang of luxury properties, priced out of reach of local Malaysians, which is why property developers are turning to foreigners in richer countries to incentivise them to buy properties here, while our local Malaysians struggle to buy a home while earning local currency.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.