I'm looking to move - how do you, as a marathon swimmer, choose a place to relocate to?
I want to leave Hong Kong because it is unaffordable and the climate is too hot. It is impossible for me to rent a flat in the city centre for my profession unless I work for finance. The pay is s**t compared to other developed nations. The are few days off (legal minimum 7 + 12 days compared to 20 + 8 days in the UK) and there are few opportunities to develop my career. Also there are few opportunities to develop my sports including orienteering and marathon swimming as well. The problem is that I don't have other citizenships and I will need the company to sponsor work visa if I want to work in another country which is known to be extremely difficult.
Now the CCP has already set up the "law" which breaks one-country-two-systems, and UK has responded that it will open its door to those Hongkongers holding BNO status (which I have) to come to live and work, which means once implemented the barrier of getting visa sponsorship will be gone. Therefore I'm already researching where in the UK I want to go.
Based on my previous research I was looking at Bournemouth. However I based my research on the assumption that I would do a working holiday with training for channel swimming as my main goal at that time. Now I'm looking for moving semi-permanently instead, which means "getting the channel done" is no longer my first and foremost priority as I have more years (I will have at least 5 years instead of only 2 years in my life to try it) to do it again in case I'm unlucky, and I have to consider the quality of life, my career prospect, the climate, etc.
I want to know, as a marathon swimmer, how will you choose a place to relocate to once you have decided you want to leave? Specifically, I have the following questions:
- Do you generally prefer a place with high salary but with high cost of living, rather than low salary with low cost of living, assume that the amount you earn gives a similar quality of life in both countries? For example, based on my experience, I can expect about £55k salary (£40k after tax) in London, but only £35k salary (£27k after tax) in a smaller city in the UK. However, the rent in London is ridiculous. It will cost about £1750 per month to rent a 1-room apartment compared to about £750 in smaller cities in southern England. Also the public transport fare is also much more expensive in London than elsewhere in the UK. Based on the above figures the increased earnings won't get me a better quality of life in London.
- How do you value proximity to the sea if you are a sea swimmer? I think that lake / river swimming is boring so I prefer living by the sea. The problem is that, London simply has much more job opportunities than any other cities in the UK. More job opportunities mean more chance to make job change, and more chance to get a higher-paid job. However living in London means no sea swimming, also swimming in River Thames is banned. I've heard that channel swimmers based in London take trains every weekend to Dover for training, but that will take a lot of time travelling on trains (about 1 and a half hours each way, i.e. 6 hours on trains over the weekend) and nearly £100 on train fares every week. If I insist on staying on the seashore but in a city with a lot of job opportunities (rather than a few), I will need to look outside the UK which will mean it will be difficult to get work visa sponsorship unless the country in question offers a visa which allows me to work as a software developer without company sponsorship.
- Do you prefer a country with relatively low tax rate but without much "social security" (e.g. the U.S. which you can get extremely rich working as a software developer but can get bankrupt by a medical bill coming at an unexpected time), or a country with much higher tax rate with good public service (e.g. the nordic countries which you may need to pay as much as half your income as tax, but the state takes care for all your health, your families, your children's education, etc.)?
- How do you value if the country is English-speaking or not, assuming that you don't know their native language? For example, it's possible to get a job in Tallinn (a seaside city with great opportunities) knowing only English in the software development sector which the government actively attracts foreign talents, but this will mean I will lose a lot of social opportunities when you don't understand Estonian / Russian, especially that as a marathon swimmer I will want to join a club to train, but it's all Estonian / Russian to me.