On your bike

September 5, 2014

Ten reasons to choose the ex-pat lifestyle

Image: Shuttertstock


I confess, I am not an expat lawyer at all. Instead, I am an ex-lawyer who is cycling around the world. Over the last twelve months, I have cycled across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, before finally reaching Melbourne. The final leg of the journey is to cycle home across the USA.

During this journey, I stayed with a number of lawyers who have left the UK behind in order to live the expat dream. They all had one thing in common: a lifestyle which would induce envy in all but the most die-hard British nationalist.

If the English drizzle is getting you down, living in a place where it feels like you are always on holiday might just be the answer. If you still need some persuading, here are a few reasons why.

1) Tax free salaries

In many jurisdictions, income tax is non-existent or so low as to be laughable. On top of that, many firms throw in accommodation allowances and flights home, as well as the usual raft of benefits you would expect, such as private healthcare and a decent pension. It’s an obvious benefit, but no less important for that.

2) Sunshine

Do we need to say anything more? English weather is rubbish and almost everywhere else in the world is better. Dubai or Hong Kong might get a bit warm in the summer months, but who has ever complained that the sky is just too blue?

3) Lifestyle

Spend Saturdays sitting on the sofa playing Mario Kart on the Wii? Spend Sundays traipsing around Ikea, praying to the Swedish God of Meatballs to show you the elusive way out? You could be out learning to sail, or scuba diving, or driving across a desert, or walking the Great Wall of China. If you really do like that sofa, it’s fine: they have sofas abroad too. For the insane, they even have Ikea. We’re just saying that there could be more opportunities for fun stuff once you leave the UK behind.

4) Living space

Paying a fortune for a London bedsit, where the bed doubles as the table, sofa and desk? Move abroad and enjoy a luxury villa with two bedrooms and a villa for the same price. Although some places in Asia might be as densely packed as dear old Blighty, if you choose carefully, you could be living like a king for the same price as your inner city cupboard.

Game falafel? Then travel’s what you want.

5) Better food

Let’s be honest. Who really enjoys eating at Pret, Eat or any of the other hundreds of outlets pushing out freezing cold, tasteless sandwiches? Switch the cheese and pickle butties for a bowl of steaming noodles in Singapore or a pile of fresh falafel in the Middle East. Chances are, it will be a fraction of the price you pay at home and you’ll impress your friends back home with your tales of how much better sushi tastes in Japan – that is, if they hang around long enough to listen to you.

6) Travel opportunities

Two of the key destinations for expat lawyers are the Middle East and South East Asia. Fortunately for those with itchy feet, both these places are global transport hubs. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are perfect places to pick up cheap flights to Africa and Asia, while Kuala Lumpur is the home of Air Asia – basically easyJet with noodles. You can explore the whole region, from Beijing to Brisbane, for less than the cost of a train from London to Slough.

7) Public holidays

Eight public holidays in the UK? Pah, we’re not even trying to have a good time. Find yourself a country which takes public holidays seriously. Particularly in Islamic jurisdictions, you can find yourself with an extra couple of weeks of leave, on top of your annual allowance, to settle back and enjoy the good life you’ve created for yourself.

8) Maids

This might be a taboo subject for some, but the reality is that if you move to certain jurisdictions, you will end up with a maid. You may never have to clean again – plus you can soothe your social conscience with the knowledge that you’re giving someone less fortunate a much needed job.

9) Learn a language…

…if that kind of thing floats your boat. However, if you don’t know your salaam from your sayonara, don’t worry. You are blessed to speak English, the global language of commerce and business, and lawyers in many expat communities get by without knowing a single word of the local lingo.

10) Expat communities

Expats are usually a welcoming bunch. In places with a highly transient population, people tend to appreciate the value to a newbie of a friendly face, and making new buddies will be easier than it has been since primary school. A culture of sport and heavy drinking prevails in many popular expat places, so get those social butterfly wings prepped.

Tempted? Have a look at some of the job options out there: http://www.professionalsinlaw.com/

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

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