Working to travel and long-term career dilemmas: Experiences of Western lifestyle migrants in Malaysia

Gareth Butler, Scott Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of business or human resource studies, research focusing on migrants has frequently documented the acculturation techniques of the ‘transnational elite’ in new geographical settings or their career progression expectations. Human geography and migration studies, on the contrary, have acknowledged the non-career-orientated motives of affluent ‘lifestyle migrants’ who relocate to new settings in order to obtain a better quality of life. Although migrants have previously received attention in tourism research, particular groups, such as working backpackers or Mediterranean-bound retirees, have arguably garnered greater attention than those that undertake foreign assignments to fulfil travel demands and to attain new experiences. Using lifestyle migrants residing in Malaysia as our focus group, this qualitative study analyses the experiences and travel mobilities of 22 Western migrants from 7 different countries. Our findings reveal that in contrast to business and human resource studies, and similar to human geography and migration studies, many migrants cited travel and leisure opportunities in Malaysia, and the surrounding region, as a dominant motivation for their relocation. However, although numerous positive experiences and highly fluid travel mobilities were recorded, simultaneous dilemmas also emerged that challenged lifestyle migrants’ career progression demands in the long-term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalTourist Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • expatriates
  • Malaysia
  • migration
  • motivations
  • travel


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