Life's a beach

With the prospect of another cold, dark and rainsoaked winter ahead, the idea of working in the Cayman Islands probably takes on a whole new appeal.

There are certainly plenty of opportunities on the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory with a population of 55,000. There is a thriving expat community, and a number of English-speaking titles that are crying out for journalistic talent.

The area is served by two main daily papers — the Cayman Net News is known for its investigative journalism, while the Caymanian Compass is regarded as a more conservative title. There is also the weekly Cayman Observer that focuses on the B2B sector and a thriving magazine industry of special interest titles and property magazines.

But is a job there everything you might dream of?

Wendy Ledger went out to work as a staff writer at Cayman Net News two years ago and has since risen to associate editor. Before making the move, she worked freelance for the Evening Standard and trade papers such as Accountancy Age. Having tired of the cold mornings and daily slog in London, she took a chance on a job advertisement she saw in Press Gazette. Now firmly established in the job, her main problem is finding enough people to share the work around.

"It's the biggest kept secret that there are a million jobs here and it's extremely difficult to recruit good people. People are competing for media jobs at home, while there are about 50 people needed here."

The Cayman Islands are a tax haven and mostly populated by offshore finance types. According to one journalist who worked for a year on the Cayman Net News, and has asked not to be named, this meant there were good stories to be had.

"The good aspect was that I got to cover a lot of financial news. I got to learn a lot about financial reporting that just wasn't on my radar before," she says. "News is a lot different there, more personalitydriven, a sort of who-you-know culture. You have to make an effort to get past the spin and print real news. But I really got into the nitty-gritty stuff."

Pay is comparable to London, as is the cost of living, although wages are tax-free. Although workinghours can be long — partly due to the shortage of staff — there are obviously benefits to living so close to the beach. There is excellent diving and while the clubbing scene might not be Balearic, there are some top-notch restaurants and an active bar scene.

Ledger sums it up: "You can pay £1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in central London to look out over rooftops and grimy roads; here you can pay that and look over the Caribbean."

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