I just saw the end of a House Hunters International episode on HGTV and heard a justification for buying in a more tropical location that is often used on the show: it is good to expose kids to other cultures. On one hand, there may be some truth to this: the kids may indeed meet people very different from themselves as well as see other social and cultural practices. This exposure might be more significant if the family is living in the the new location full-time, as was the case in this episode as the father had a new job, versus flying to the location a few times a year for vacation.
However, there are some factors that are working against this significant exposure:
1. The family typically buys in a Western-style housing complex. This suggests they may be living more near other internationals or at least near more people with money.
2. The families typically are people of means, those who can afford to purchase a second home or have the kind of jobs that transfer them to foreign locales. This status would particularly stand out in developing countries.
3. At least on the show (which is not a good depiction of reality), the families are not typically shown doing “normal” things in the new society in which they live. No trips to the grocery store or market, hanging out in local eating establishments, or participating in social life with people who look different than themselves. Instead, we typically see shots of them on the beach or at the pool or enjoying their home.
In the end, I’m skeptical about the level of exposure to other cultures. This sounds like wealthier Westerners wanting some diversity on their terms and social standing.