You’ve decided to drop out of the rat race and set up a new life elsewhere in the world: good on you!
Many hopeful expats chose to move to a town they know well already, setting up in a favourite holiday spot or short stop on a backpacking adventure. And what better way to recapture the glorious, carefree days spent there than by setting up a bar?Well, the truth is running a bar is one of the more labour-intensive jobs an expat could take on. There will be late nights pulling pints, early mornings filled with arduous cleaning and backbreaking deliveries of heavy barrels. When all your friends are partying, you’ll be working, and when you’re not pouring drinks, there will be paperwork to do and suppliers to chase. To top it all off, the money isn’t going to be amazing. If you don’t know this already, the bar business probably isn’t for you.
If you’ve already spent long nights trying to serve hundreds of impatient customers at once, or even longer days with nobody darkening the door, you might know what you’re getting into.
Those who know and love the life of the liquor merchant may find themselves a shot at the good, but busy, life overseas. Pull up a bar stool and read our guide to the best places to open bars or pubs around the world.
Britain has some big party towns. London has internationally renowned cocktail and champagne bars, Newcastle braves the coldest temperatures to hit ‘the toon’ and Birmingham’s New Street is a solid carnival. But sleepy Cornwall could be the place to open your bar.
With one of the country’s sparsest populations, it might not seem like the best corner of the world to set up shop, but Cornwall is home to the UK’s unlikely surf scene.
Beach bums are big business, with salt-crusted surfers converging on Newquay and the surrounding bays. Thanks to Atlantic waves rolling up the perfectly shaped beaches, the town enjoys a position as the Mecca of British surfing.
This means a summertime exodus of wetsuited surfers heading to Newquay, as well as a steady year-round flow of tourists, campers and wannabe wave riders. There are already a host of bars, hotels and hostels to cater for the rowdy crowds, and even the peaceful campsites nearby usually have a bar onsite.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for one more. Around 4.5 million people visit Cornwall each year, with tourism pouring up to £250 million into Newquay’s coffers.
To enjoy the surf lifestyle without leaving the UK, and know that there is a thirsty crowd waiting for the doors to open on another bar, Newquay should be your next move.
Azerbaijan isn’t the first place that comes to mind when thinking of spots to raise a glass or dance the night away. The former Soviet satellite state sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea and thinks of itself as having a foot in Asia and the other in Europe. Wherever she thinks her feet are, Azerbaijan is standing on a vast oilfield.
The liquid gold is starting to turn into hard cash, evident in the capital of Baku. Towers of steel and glass now loom over the low, traditional buildings and austere Soviet architecture.
A new and busy middle class is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in Baku, looking for new ways to spend money and have fun.
A traditionally austere and reserved people are embracing their new status as a rising power and embracing western ways of showing off. Nightclubs are springing up and Azerbaijan’s bright young things party until dawn in giant discos.
There also seems to be a demand for British pubs, with imitations named Britannia, Pub William Shakespeare, Hampstead and Queen’s Head all playing host to locals who like to bend an elbow.
La Paz, Bolivia
A firm fixture on the gringo trail, every backpacker going through South America eventually ends up drawn to La Paz.
Set in a steep-sided valley, the city towers above itself with city blocks clinging to the slope. The highest administrative capital on the planet, La Paz is split into a downtown business district and the northern end, which is packed with hostels and bus stations for the adventurous crowd.
There are surprisingly few bars given the number of travellers passing through La Paz; this may be due to the Irish-owned hostels and their in-house breweries. The city is a ripe opportunity for the first bar that can get these backpackers to venture out and swap Bolivars for beers.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
The Big Easy is famous as a place for a good knees-up. Mardi Gras carnivals and city-wide parties for New Year give New Orleans a reputation as the home of boozy Southern hospitality.
The crowds pack into Bourbon Street every night of the year and the French Quarter is permanently filled with revellers. Despite this small city’s big reputation for good times, there is still room for another bar.
Thousands of tourists flock to New Orleans every year for the almost continuous parade of festivals. Visitors come from around the world to enjoy food festivals, concerts and sporting events, and who can visit New Orleans without sipping bourbon on Bourbon Street?
There’s property available near the centre of town than needs a lick of paint, but not too much; who would want to destroy the city’s faded charm? Anywhere serving up a helping of blues or a slice of cool jazz is likely to pack in the visiting crowds and locals alike.
Known as the most beautiful city in the world, Split has been a favourite destination of emperors and kings, and now thousands of tourists.
The Dalmatian coast is famous for its fine wines, and Split cafes make a pretty penny on these. As well as the café scene and some top restaurants, Split has a host of nightclubs on the Bacvice beach, but few bars.
With tourists and cruise passengers filling the city throughout the summer months, the historic city is long overdue a good drinking hole.
The Danes live up to their Viking roots when it comes to partying. Able to dance and sink drinks until the sun comes up, it’s not uncommon for morning bars in Copenhagen to stay open until 9am.
The city is pretty small, making it easy to bar hop through the night and find the right venue to match your mood. There’s a glut of refined wine bars, serving expensive tipple to smartly suited Danes who will later shed their ties and hit the dance floors of all-night clubs.
Copenhagen is so addicted to having a boogie that she hosts Distortion every year: a five-day rave right in the middle of the city. Danes refer to their capital as the friendly old girl, but this lady is far from retirement and she’ll keep dancing for years to come.
Tourists flock to Nyhavn canal and there’s a bubble here that drives up beer prices by a significant degree. This is thanks to a peculiar phenomenon of town planning: for a town by the sea, there are very few bars that overlook the water. Any pub with a sea view would become an instant hit.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Sat on the coast of the Pacific Northwest, Portland has long been seen as the poor neighbour of Seattle. But now the city has its own title, as the microbrewery capital of the world.
With over seventy craft beer makers in the city, Portland is finding new and interesting ways to down a pint. There are bars in shops, vegan pubs and bars in cinemas, one of which plays the Rocky Horror Picture Show on repeat.
The city’s food trucks balance Portland’s nightlife scene. Converted commercial vehicles park up near drinking dens and serve a sophisticated range of hot foods to the respectably inebriated.
Portland’s beer bonanza is still in full swing, but there is a rapidly opening gap for wine and cocktail bars.
There are plenty of party towns on the Mediterranean, but few people would name Beirut chief among them. The Lebanese capital has long been home to a convivial and outgoing population and every district has a street or two lined with busy bars.
The Lebanese are fairly relaxed about alcohol and visitors shouldn’t be surprised if they are offered a glass of arak just as often as tea or coffee.
Beirut is packed with open-air bars, rooftops are transformed into swanky bars, and even industrial areas switch from work to play once the sun goes down.
There’s no curfew in Beirut, so expect revellers out until the sun comes up. A boom in tourist numbers is gathering momentum, driving a boom in the Hamra area. Hotels and cafes are opening all the time, alongside international chains like Starbucks and Nandos. Visitors are also packing into the few pubs in the area, knocking back pints as fast as they can be poured.
The bad old days of Lebanon’s turbulent past are largely behind her and business is booming. There have been some bombings in the capital, claimed by terrorist group ISIS, but by and large the city is safe.
Tel Aviv, Israel
New York is the Big Apple, but it has a Middle Eastern contender for its crown as the city that never sleeps: the Big Orange.
Tel Aviv is already known as the city that never stops and the pace is only getting faster. People travel from across the region to drink and dance in the bars and clubs of Israel’s premier nightspot. There is a bar to suit just about every drinker: American bars serving beer, burgers and blues, British pubs showing the Premiere League, and The Middle East’s greatest concentration of gay bars.
The only thing missing is a bar serving real ale and micro-brews. Tel Aviv is home to Israel’s only microbrewery and it’s doing a roaring trade. The Gan Hahashmal neighbourhood is home to a growing hipster scene that would eagerly lap up some stouts and porters.
Tel Aviv has been targeted in the past by terrorist bombings, but these incidents have greatly reduced in recent years, generally thanks to tight security procedures.
Belgrade is a historic city that has found itself fought over by empires and armies. The city has been raided by Romans, harangued by Huns and battered by the Byzantine Empire for four hard centuries.
Recent history didn’t cut the city any slack: it was bombed by both the Axis and Allied powers during World War II, and the 1990s saw civil war and NATO bombing campaigns. Now the Serbian capital is finally getting to enjoy a little peace and quiet.
Belgrade is now the financial capital of Southern Europe and a leader in technology. Microsoft, Dell, Asus and Intel all have regional HQs in the city.
The battered and shattered city is rising from the rubble as a financial powerhouse and a formidable player on the world stage. Belgrade’s youngsters are educated, ambitious and thirsty.
Belgrade’s reputation as a party town is so strong in the region that revellers travel from Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia to party through the weekend and go home again early Monday morning.
The Times and Lonely Planet have both voted Belgrade as the number one party city, but there’s a gap in the market waiting to be filled. Currently the city’s traditional café culture slows in the early evening and then the thumping clubs pick up again late at night or the wee small hours.
Belgrade is short on bars, pubs and chilled-out spots for a beer with your buddies. There is the Irish-themed Three Carrots, hidden amongst bombed-out shells, but there isn’t much more choice.
Serbs love beer and there’s a full calendar of festivals and events to keep a steady flow of visitors coming through the town.
Have you moved abroad and opened a bar or pub? Share your experience in the comments!
Article by Andy Scofield, International Features Writer