Want to emigrate? How do you make sure that the grass really is greener?….

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Many of us are harbouring a vague idea that maybe we’d like to up sticks and start a new life in a different country.  Britain is steadily recovering from the rigours of the global economic downturn, but there are still many of us who hanker for a different lifestyle abroad – maybe we want the opportunity for a more outdoor lifestyle, one where the pace of life isn’t quite as frantic, or perhaps, we yearn for a better place to raise our children.

Whatever your reason, the Office for National Statistics revealed last year (2013) that the number of Brits who have moved abroad, has risen by a fifth under the Coalition government – reaching 154, 000 last year.

This increasing exodus ties in with OECD statistics which reveal that almost 1.3 million University-educated Britons are living abroad – more than any other developed country – a significant amount. Issues such as high taxes and a more global jobs market means that there is a ‘brain drain’ of talented and well-educated Brits who leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Many who choose to leave Britain are heading to “growth economies” in countries such as Hong Kong and the Middle East, often for jobs in aerospace, engineering and creative companies.

It’s not just the high-earning echelons who are opting to embrace a change of culture and country elsewhere – many middle class families also aspire to make the big move.  They are driven by a desire to achieve a better quality of life for them and their children, according to a report released in late 2012, commissioned by the Government of South Australia’s Office of Agent General, which polled 1000 British families.

The report found that a majority (almost two in three families) wanted to emigrate overseas because Britain no longer offers them an adequate quality of life.

Reasons cited include:

–         Poor weather

–         Rude locals

–         Celebrity-obsessed culture

–         Economic downturn

–         Loss of community spirit and neighbourliness

–         Wanting a more relaxed life

–         Wanting a more optimistic ‘can do’ attitude

–         Expensive housing

Prof Paul Ward, who was the report’s author, summed up many of the respondent’s motives – “Many of the families we speak to, tell us they want to live in a community that embodies old-fashioned British values while enjoying a warmer climate and better work-life balance.”

The majority of these want-away Brits, identify the ever-popular Australia as their first choice, followed by the USA, New Zealand, Canada and our nearer European neighbours Spain France and Italy. Here at Go Walkabout, we have two emigration policies, and Australia is by far and away the most popular emigration destination for the customers that we speak to.

It is of course, incredibly important, to do your research, when considering which country should be the place that you decide to call home.  It is a hugely monumental decision to emigrate to another country.  Even if the move is only a temporary one for work reasons, it is still somewhere where you want to feel comfortable, happy and fulfilled.

In an ideal world, you need to visit the place that you are considering relocating to, but this isn’t always possible.  So, if you’re unhappy with life in Britain, but you don’t know where to head for, what can you do to narrow down your choices?

Well, firstly, you need to research which countries you would be eligible to emigrate to – as conditions obviously apply to being allowed to stay either as a temporary or permanent resident in a country for longer than a holiday.  Your best bet is to do some research online by looking at the emigration bureaus of countries that you are considering emigrating to.

Online forums and personal anecdotes are also useful when finding out the realities of living in a particular location, and of course, you can ask questions to find out more by asking people who have actually made the move themselves – and perhaps you can learn from their mistakes.

A fun thing that you can do, is take the BuzzFeed Quiz ‘What country do you actually belong in?’ It asks questions about your likes and dislikes and then pronounces the country that will best suit you.  I was surprised to get India – as I’m ‘driven by the search for meaning and have a passion for culture and religion.’  It’s not a country that I’ve ever visited, but maybe I should!

Perhaps a more scientific thing to do to whittle down your choices, is to take a look at the results of the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2013, which is an annual survey of expats around the world, which asks them a number of questions related to economics, lifestyle and raising children.  This was a wide-ranging survey, which asked the opinions of 7, 000 people who have relocated and covers 37 countries.

You can compare countries across the world by a wide range of criteria that all impact upon your happiness, including diet, healthcare provision, accommodation, entertainment and making friends.

Compare countries here.

Perhaps surprisingly, China topped the poll of countries in terms of expat satisfaction – as it is not a destination that attracts emigrants from the UK as frequently as countries such as Australia and the USA.  This is a global poll though, and China attracts a lot of emigrants from other Asian countries, and is expanding its global appeal further due to its continuing economic growth and the need for skilled labour.

Here is the Top 10:

  1. China
  2. Germany
  3. Singapore
  4. Cayman Islands
  5. Australia
  6. Canada
  7. Russia
  8. Belgium
  9. United Arab Emirates
  10. Hong Kong

A surprise entry in the Top Ten is the Cayman Islands – this Caribbean destination obviously benefits from a great climate, but what else has it got going for it? It is ranked the highest in terms of setting up in a new country e.g. travelling around locally, getting used to the local culture and finding accommodation.  70% of Cayman Island expats say they enjoy a higher quality of life overall, with one of its major selling points being that it’s the easiest place to make friends out of all the countries profiled.

So where did the UK come in the rankings? Sadly, we trailed in 22nd place in the survey chart, with only Italy and Ireland below us (of the countries with enough responses to be included when all criteria are taken into account).  It received low marks in ‘healthy diet’, quality of accommodation, quality of childcare, health and well-being of your children and making friends amongst other things.  Of course, these are the perceptions of expats who have moved to the UK, not long-term residents.

So, if you’re a Brit who has decided exactly where you’d like to start afresh, and are planning your one-way journey, don’t forget to take care of your emigration travel insurance before you set off.

You may not have heard of emigration insurance, but it is an invaluable product to take away some of the worries of uprooting and moving overseas.  We have two comprehensive Emigration policies available – the Emigration Silver and Emigration Gold policies.  Both offer reassuring cover for your personal belongings, emergency medical expenses and your personal liability, plus a host of other great benefits. Unlike many other emigration policies, ours extend beyond your arrival in your new home country, and you can choose how many days you’d like cover to continue for from a choice of options, whilst you settle in.   Find out more and compare both policies here.

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