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Working abroad: A unique experience, that needs consideration

Working abroad can be a transformative experience, offering professionals the chance to immerse themselves in a new culture, broaden their private and professional horizons while enhancing their career profiles. Using Bermuda as an example and based on ten key points, we'll explore the pros and cons of working abroad in an offshore situation.
Written on 09/20/23

1. Geographic Location: Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory situated approximately 1,000 kilometers southeast of the United States. Even though international airport hubs such as New York (approx. two hours flight) and even London (approx. seven hours) are within reach, its isolated location in the Atlantic Ocean can lead to complications.

2. Climactic Conditions: Bermuda boasts a pleasant subtropical climate with mild winters and warm, humid summers. The island is known for its stunning pink sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Nevertheless, heavy thunderstorms can occur during the hurricane season (June to November) and restrict the ability to travel. It's vital to follow local advice during severe weather.

3. Governance Facts and Population: Bermuda operates under a parliamentary democracy and is a self-governing British Overseas Territory. The legal system is based on English common law, providing a familiar legal framework for professionals. The state has a total area of only 53 km², but nearly 65,000 inhabitants, which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

4. Special Requirements: To work in Bermuda, professionals typically need a work permit or a so-called Bermuda Status, which is granted after several years of continuous residency. Employers often assist with the work permit process, but it's essential to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria.

5. Living Costs: Even though average wages are among the highest in the world, so are living costs. The latter are twice as high as in the rest of the UK, Bermuda ranks first place in the current global cost of living index. With average monthly rents for a 1-bedroom apartment within the island’s capital Hamilton of approx. $3,200, and approx. $2,100 outside the city centre, accommodation provided by the employer is a valuable benefit. 

6. Taxation: Bermuda's tax laws are highly attractive for international businesses. There is no corporate income tax, capital gains tax or value-added tax. Tax revenue is derived primarily from the payroll tax, customs/import duties, property tax, corporate services tax, and fuel taxes (for details see KPMG's 2023 report "Taxation of international executives: Bermuda"). This tax-efficient environment allows reinsurers to maximize their capital resources. But employees must be prepared for effects from higher indirect taxes, such as customs, as nearly all goods are imported. Furthermore, this can lead to occasional shortages or price fluctuations.

7. Healthcare: Bermuda offers high-quality healthcare services, but they can be costly. Expats may need private health insurance to cover medical expenses.

8. Education: For families with children, Bermuda has a range of international schools offering a quality education. It's important to research and secure a place for each child in advance.

9. Cultural Diversity: Bermuda is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse expatriate community. Employees may embrace this cultural diversity to enrich their experience and expand their global network.

10. Transportation: The island has a well-developed transportation network, with a focus on road travel and public buses. Owning a car can be costly, so alternative transportation options might have to be considered.