It won’t come as news to anyone that the cost of living in Australia’s capital cities has skyrocketed over the last few years and shows no sign of abatement. Whether it is the price of property (in Sydney and Melbourne over 9 x median income), the cost of consumables and staples or the ever increasing cost of energy there is no doubt that although we live in the lucky country, it is an expensive place to be.
For lawyers, particularly those outside of the partnership, even though they make relatively good incomes it is still incredibly difficult to actually get ahead (or buy your own home) in a capital city. This desire to build a nest egg and ultimately enter the housing market has been a key motivator for young professionals to spend some time in an overseas jurisdiction.
Yet while the present strength of the Australian dollar has certainly brought this into question, what most people fail to see is that given you will spend significantly less money in many of these cities you will still be able to save far more than you can in Australia. Naturally if you go to Cayman or Moscow or the Middle East with low tax rates and high salaries it is an easy equation to work out, however for the majority of lawyers who first move to London it has been a cause of concern. Clearly London has never been the place to go simply for the money. Yet the negativity we sometimes see around the strength in the dollar is actually misplaced when considered in light of the real cost of living in London (and compared to that here). You can still save money, enjoy the European experience and come back a much better lawyer whether the Australian dollar remains at historical highs or returns to its long term average.