Seattle Morningfuture
Imagining Trend 20 August Aug 2018 0830 20 August 2018

Summer in the city (but abroad): five destinations to discover how work is changing

From Hangzhou, the new cradle of Chinese high-tech, to Lagos, the heart of developing Africa: five unusual cities for visiting the frontier of economic development

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This summer, how would you like to visit the city where you could some day live and work in? For those dreaming of an international career, whether in IT or finance, here are five destinations to keep an eye on for growing development and professional opportunities.

Summer means relaxing, sure, but also discovering new places, destinations that are more or less exotic, to pay a visit and dream of staying a long time, perhaps even hoping to move there. Moving? Yes, because for those who are always looking for the next challenge and employment overseas, of course some places are more suitable than others for planting the seeds for a prosperous future. In this sense, ranking the most attractive destinations is endless: from cities where living is best to those where it is easiest to launch a start-up, from the most densely populated to those least polluted. And while some destinations are classic (London and Singapore for FinTech, Vienna for quality of life, New York for cultural vivacity), there are plenty of other less overrated places that are best for starting anew. Want to know which they are? Here are the five cities that now and in the near future are most promising in terms of economic and professional growth.

  • Hangzhou, China
    Being the most populous country in the world, megacities in China are popping up like mushrooms. The country’s fast urbanisation has in fact given a not indifferent push to economic development, constantly creating more work and wealth. The downside? Prices, especially in the real estate market, have gone through the roof. This is also why there is a new wave of urbanisation aimed at the smaller residential areas in the hinterlands, which can still offer good job opportunities in spite of lower living costs. Hangzhou is one example of this trend. The capital of the Zhejiang region lived for a long time in the shadow of the better known Shanghai and Beijing, but in 2016, the year the G20 summit was held there, it began to emerge. And if the Chinese economy’s growth pace in general is starting to slow down (increasing its annual GDP “only” by 6%), Hangzhou is still riding the wave of the high-tech and service industries, growing at a rate of 10% per year. The IT sector in particular generates 23% of the city’s total GDP, determining its 45% growth. Home to the Alibaba e-commerce giant (and where its founder, Jack Ma, was born), Hangzhou is known as the capital of electronic commerce in China. But it is also a giant production centre for tech equipment and biotechnologies, as well as the chemical and pharmaceutical sector (the Hangzhou East China Pharmaceutical Group, the largest maker of antibiotics in Zhejiang, is headquartered there): the Pfizer group will soon be building a 350 million dollar biotech centre there.

  • Bangalore, India
    Bangalore, located inland in the south of India, is pretty much the Asian answer to Silicon Valley, home to five of the country’s eight unicorns (the start-ups that have gone past the 1 billion dollar appraisal ceiling). Flipkart, Ola, InMobi, Quikr and MuSigma are in fact one of the biggest development drivers in the city, thanks to their on-line store services, taxis, marketing platforms, advertising and Big Data analytics. It's thanks to Bangalore that the Indian IT sector has risen to a value of 146 billion dollars, a market so flourishing that there is talk of a brain drain from New Delhi and other Indian cities towards this town. Recognised as one of the most progressive and modern towns in the country, Bangalore also plays host to many students, most likely new recruits to insert in the tech companies. Suffice it to say, before a film starts at the cinema, the viewers get to watch advertisements for software development jobs instead of film trailers. In keeping with all this is cultural development and the growth of collateral activities to the new digital jobs, like restaurants, clubs and bars. And there are lots of business angels who add to the development of new activities (in 2014, Bangalore was fifth in the world for investment volume by Venture Capitalists, valued at 2.6 billion dollars). Not by chance is Bangalore attracting more foreign talent to this hidden but very lively paradise for innovation and job creation.

  • Seattle, USA
    If you prefer staying in a more western context, the United States could be for you. Especially Seattle, in Washington state, which is fast becoming more famous than San Francisco as far as levels of attractiveness for start-ups and companies. With its lower cost of living and a better rate of instruction compared to the California city, Seattle is home to giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Costco, placing it among the best destinations for income ($132,000 a year) and career possibilities. Also known as the Emerald City (even if emeralds have nothing to do with it: the name comes from the fact that Seattle is surrounded by lush greenery all year round), it has a young, well educated population, even if it is fairly costly (from Starbucks coffee to what is available on the real estate market). Despite all that, it is still one of the preferred tourist destinations as well as one for investors, who wager an average of 1.2 billion dollars a year on the city.

  • Lagos, Nigeria
    Italians and Europeans are certainly not used to thinking of such large numbers, but Lagos, Nigeria has doubled its population over a mere decade, reaching a top of 14 million inhabitants in 2016. At this rate, it could reach a population of 88.3 million in 2100: it will be the most populous metropolis in the world. Growth that would be difficult if not for the fact that Lagos is already the main commercial and financial centre in west Africa. Moreover, the ongoing construction of Eko Atlantic, a huge residential and commercial centre (not by chance called the “Nigerian Manhattan”) on Victoria Island, next to the city, is making the former Nigerian capital a hub for continental businessmen, who prefer it because of its very low cost of living. As a major economic centre, the megacity has the highest GDP of any other African city and boasts one of the largest and most important ports in Africa.

  • Toronto, Canada
    It is one of the most liveable cities in the world, among the best for safety, health, infrastructure, cost of living and the easiest to start new companies in, according to the latest PwC “Cities of Opportunity” report on the most liveable cities in the world. With a great deal of attention and wealth in the banking sector, Toronto is home to some of Canada’s leading banks, along with several skyscrapers (among which the iconic CN Tower, very similar to Berlin’s TV tower, but much taller) and extremely low levels of pollution similar to Stockholm’s. Toronto is Canada’s capital of innovation as well as a huge financial and commercial giant on a global level. The cultural life is also dynamic: the Toronto Film Festival, to name just one of its activities, is an event that pulls in many visitors every year. If there is one downside, it’s probably the cold. But an unemployment rate of 6 percent and a reputation as a capital of employment and immigration make it the perfect place to find a job quickly.

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