London increasingly dominates UK headlines these days, from the tedious Heathrow third runway saga to ongoing Tube strikes. It’s arguably mightier than ever; a once exclusively British capital, now a world city and a true city-state in waiting, akin to Singapore sprinting away from laggard Malaysia. But concerns are growing over whether it’s a good place to live.
There is no doubt that London has been enormously successful in recent years, even getting past the 2008 financial crisis with aplomb (while the rest of the nation suffered). The UK capital hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, and celebrated both the Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding:
But despite this, many residents are not happy, it seems, and are packing their bags (and are telling the world they are packing their bags):
Do you currently live in London and share some of the concerns cited? Are you hoping to move to London, perhaps, or have you left already? Interested in your views!
Finding the right job can be tough, especially in these crazily uncertain times. The best approach, in my experience at least, is to build relationships with people to uncover opportunities – what the experts have traditionally called “networking”, but in practice means simply being matey with the right connections. This is what most professionals do when they are not working, i.e. 75% of the time.
But what if you don’t know anyone, for example when starting out? You could “blag” your way in (full marks are often awarded to the bold in life), or you could try the next best thing: a jobs website. Word of warning: not all opportunities are as they appear, as is often the case with recruitment, so stay wary:
- Escape the City – a website sprung from the loins of London’s financial district, Escape the City offers, as the name suggests, exciting opportunities for professionals away from the corporate treadmill. While there are openings with NGOs and startups all over the world, a question remains in my mind after a quick scan: can anyone truly “escape the city” through becoming a Marketing Director or Commercial Analyst?
- Jobbatical – Born in startup-mad Estonia, Jobbatical focuses on listing career break opportunities around the world, away from the day job (job + sabbatical). An intriguing idea, since applicants can combine work with memorable experiences in new countries. And who wants to sit on a beach for 2 weeks anyway?
- Global Nomadic Jobs – Global Nomadic now lists paid jobs, in addition to exciting volunteer experiences and internship placements. There is a tag cloud with “social media” displayed as the biggest term, so I’m guessing that’s what users are mostly interested in!
- Idealist – A website advertising opportunities to people who want to do good in the world, Idealist is currently listing some 13,000 jobs around the world, mostly youth and education-related.
- And lastly, Asia Hired. Run by a mate of mine, hence its inclusion. Robin, I’ll have that beer, thanks.
Have I missed any?
Working abroad is an adventure. It can sometimes get overwhelming, threatening the expat’s psychological health. Here are simple suggestions for maintaining positive mental wellbeing:
- Take a break in your adopted country. Everyone needs a bolt-hole (the metaphorical garden shed), and many cities have well-known retreats – Moganshan, for example, is an established getaway for Shanghai urbanites.
- If that doesn’t work, retreat to your home country. This is the ultimate sanctuary. Take as long as you need – work out of your home office if you can.
- Many of us, of course, can’t do either. So, seek refuge in the city by pampering yourself. This could be fine dining, spa treatment or a luxury overnight stay (as strange as it seems).
- Join a spiritual or support group. Church is not just for church-goers; go there and sit in calm, reflective silence.
- Wherever you are, take a step back and reflect on the big picture. This fundamentally alters your perspective. Instead of dwelling on gritty travails and setbacks, think about how far you’ve come. Expat life is a brave move, so congratulate yourself.
- Seek professional counsel. Some problems will not go away and could perhaps worsen. While you might have great friends, they are not necessarily experts when it comes to mental health issues.
- The last option, I’d argue, is to quit altogether if things get too rough. Many of us are encouraged to leave one’s comfort zone; stay out of it for too long and there can be repercussions.