Foreign offices

September 19, 2014

The best places to be an ex-pat – by our global cycling correspondent

Image: Shutterstock

Last time, we looked at the reasons why an expat career might be the ultimate in a cushy legal posting. If you’ve been persuaded that this could be the life for you, the next step is to think about places you might like to live in. In this article, we set out some of the main attractions of popular places to be an expat lawyer.

As with the previous article, this has been written by Laura Moss, a lawyer who left her City job to cycle around the world. Although she may have abandoned her legal career in favour of a bicycle and a tent, you don’t need to take such drastic action. If you need a change of scenery, consider the expat life. It’s pretty sweet.

So where should you go?

1) The Middle East

As the global economy recovers, so too has the powerhouse that has been the Middle East for the last two decades. Construction lawyers are particularly well catered for, but everyone from corporate lawyers to international arbitrators will find plenty of opportunities in this part of the world. Salaries are tax free and the lifestyle is relaxed: you can forget the horror stories of being arrested for showing a bit of ankle. Unless you’re in Saudi, most international hotels serve alcohol and women don’t need to be clad in a veil. The lifestyle varies hugely across the region: try Dubai for raucous nightlife; Oman for families and the great outdoors; or Qatar for World Cup controversies.

2) Singapore

Modern, exciting and very overcrowded, Singapore has been a hot spot for lawyers for years. The city state itself might be tiny and packed full of people, but you’re right on the edge of Malaysia, so it’s just a short drive to unspoiled beaches, world-class diving and incredible mountains covered in steamy tea plantations. It’s an easy flight to everywhere else in South East Asia, or even down to Australia, making it the perfect destination for those in need of weekend beach getaways.

3) Hong Kong

Modern, exciting and very overcrowded…are we back in Singapore? The two cities may have a lot in common, but Hong Kong also has a more edgy side. The skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island give way to the crazy streets of Kowloon, just over the harbour, where hawkers flog cheap suits while tourists look on bemused. Honkers is a regional financial hub so banking and finance lawyers are particularly welcome and with non-stop nightlife, you’ll be able to celebrate whatever time of the night you close the deal. Incredible food, incredible humidity and an incredibly welcoming expat community mean you’ll soon settle in.

4) Australia

You might be bloody miles from everywhere mate, but Australia is the perfect destination for those nostalgic for the days of Helen Daniels and Alf Stuart. Having more or less escaped the global recession, the cost of living is notoriously sky high, but with salaries to match and beaches on every doorstep, who can complain. The strong mining industry will attract lawyers with relevant experience and a penchant for hard hats, but almost every specialism will find a niche somewhere in this huge, thriving country.

5) The Bahamas

Tax free living in a tropical paradise: do you need any more persuading? Being so close to the USA, the Bahamas is a financial centre for corporate and personal investors and is renowned for high salaries and an excellent quality of life. Jobs on these islands may not come up as frequently as jobs in the Middle East or Asia, but when they do, they’ve got to be worth a look.

6) China

Whatever happens to the Chinese economy in the future, China has been an exciting place to work over the last few years. Even if things do seem to be slowing down, chances are that the economy will continue to grow for some time yet, meaning opportunities for good lawyers are still abundant. Without the colonial influence which makes parts of Hong Kong or Singapore feel familiar, and with fewer English speakers, expats may find the Chinese culture a bit harder to penetrate. However, if you’re up for a challenge, China offers a plethora of opportunities.

Tempted? Have a look at some of the job options out there:

If you’re interested in following the author’s cycling adventures, you can read more at LM

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