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Becoming an Expat

Reasons for leaving UK

Here's a forum to talk about all the ins and outs of leaving the UK and launching yourself into the wide blue yonder - selling up, saying goodbyes, all that sort of thing. NB - this is NOT for country-specific issues; please post those on the appropriate country forum.

Reasons for leaving UK

Postby yosser » Mon 12 Dec 2005 00:01 GMT

Hi, I note that there are many people who have recently left the UK for warmer climes. As someone considering a return I am interested in hearing why people left. Was it the crummy weather, the lack of opportunity or just that the UK has changed.
I'm sorry I know this is a wide open topic but I am really interested in people's opinions in this area.
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Postby Dave » Mon 12 Dec 2005 00:30 GMT

Certainly a biggie! Still, a question well worth asking.

I was always (from quite an early age as a kid) interested in the idea of overseas travel. My Dad was in the RAF, so with moves every three years or so I was fairly well conditioned to the idea of a less firmly rooted existence.

I didn't actually get to go (and live) overseas until I was 12, and then it was only to RAF Germany - not exactly plunging into a massively different lifestyle. We did the bulk of our shopping (apart from bread, milk and some veg) at the NAAFI; I went to a British boarding school (first of all in Germany, then in the UK); and we listened to BFBS radio (British Forces Broadcasting Service). Still, it was a gentle introduction to the idea that life didn't necessarily have to be lived the way it's lived in the UK.

By the time I'd been through university (much of which time I spent in Germany again) I'd sort of decided that I wanted to spend more time overseas, dealing with international relations and learning other languages if possible. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office seemed like a pretty good way of doing that. Sadly, it's not altogether matched expectations. The nature of the work - and of the FCO itself - has changed, driven largely by so-called "efficiency" savings, which for my money have undermined the FCO's effectiveness. But above all, the FCO career path best suited to my abilities involves me doing the sort of work that takes me to London for large chunks of my life.

And that, I think, is the real problem. I don't like London as a place to live - too expensive, too crowded and too anonymous. And that's in the comparatively pleasant part of Greater London we were living in (Hackbridge, in Sutton borough). Having lived overseas for eight years out of the last twelve has only increased my dislike, especially as it's become even more expensive. Kay, of course, never wanted to live there in the first place - one more reason not to want to return.

Having spent six months in Thailand, followed by another six months in the UK while we got our London house ready for sale, I'm more convinced than ever that I don't want to live in the UK, or indeed Western Europe generally. Naklua's cheap, spacious, quiet and friendly (both the Thais and the expats), things generally work (and when they don't, you can usually get them fixed cheaply enough) and the weather's good most of the time. Even when it's not, it's still warmer than the UK (except when the UK has a particularly freakish heatwave). The minor downside is the loss of the long summer evenings, but that's more than compensated for by the loss of the long winter nights. Even now, when sunset is at its earliest, night hasn't completely fallen even at six o'clock.

Horses for courses, as they say - but for me, it's no contest. :D
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Mon 12 Dec 2005 02:42 GMT

I'm at a juncture where I could now return to England if I wanted. I can only think of one thing that's stopping me - The weather.

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Postby Alan-LaCala » Mon 12 Dec 2005 08:52 GMT

Today it is 3 months since we left the UK for Spain.

Unlike many expats out here we did not leave because we felt the UK was going to the dogs, or because of high prices, immigration, or any negative reasons; in fact we liked living there, and the particular area we were in.

Our reason was to get some decent warmer weather, and live in a society that we felt was more laid back and less pressured.

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Postby JayneR » Mon 12 Dec 2005 09:01 GMT

I left when I was 24 and single in 1980. At the time there was no particular reason I wanted to leave, just that I was convinced there was something more interesting "out there" and I wanted to see it.

Twenty five years later, I'd never consider going back to the UK for many reasons but I think the main reason would be I'm not English any more. I'm a mixture of the cultures I've lived in since 1980 and when I go back to Manchester to visit people, find it too restricting and "narrow" - plus the weather doesn't help either.

I know one should never say never but the only possible reason for me to go back would be to be with my ageing parents.
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Postby Kay » Mon 12 Dec 2005 10:13 GMT

In a way I feel it's almost irrelevant to me whether or not I like the UK. I love Thailand! What's not to like?

We live by the sea in a lovely (but very basic) wooden house with a large garden. The compound itself is beautiful and secure. I'm not saying that crime could never happen here but it's certainly not common. We left the place unoccupied for six months and the worst that happened was that one of Dave's shoes went missing. In the absence of a one-legged man in the area, we suspect it was one of the neighbour's dogs. (The shoes were on a rack outside in the porch.)

The cost of living is very cheap. To have this standard of living - housing, eating out, clothes, etc, etc, in the UK we would need to be very wealthy. Here we can afford to eat out as often as we like, have someone come round to do the housework a couple of afternoons a week, send the ironing to the local laundry. Labour is cheap so if we don't want to do something there's always a willing pair of hands to do it for a few bob. Our ironing costs about 12p per item.

It's warm, so we don't spend much on clothes and nothing on heating (although we do need to have the fans on in the summer). Everyone wears casual clothes and you can buy a T-shirt for less than a quid. It's a laid back place where "no problem" is one of the most common phrases. It's the Land of Smiles.

Our compound is quiet and spacious and beautiful, with a very nice swimming pool (not that we've ever used it yet :oops: ). All this and still we are only about 20 minutes from the city where we have several international supermarkets where we can buy everything from British style bacon (locally produced so again it's a fraction of the UK price) to excellent French cheeses (very expensive but what the heck!). There are fantastic restaurants - seafood, European, Thai (of course!), French, Irish... You name it, we have it. If we have a night out we take a taxi home back out to the sticks and it costs about GBP1.50 - even at 3 am!

The Thai people are generally friendly and helpful and treat us as honoured guests in their country.

The only downside is the visa regulations and the fact that we are not allowed to work. But we can cope with that.

Things can change but at this stage of my life I would rather live in Naklua than anywhere else.
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Postby Mojan » Mon 12 Dec 2005 20:29 GMT

Like Alan, I too am contemplating, one day returning to the UK to live.
After living in Australia for 33 years I have a yearning to go back to my roots, to spend a few years with any remaining family I've got (which now consists of just one sister, a few cousins and a couple of ageing aunts and uncles.

Even though I live in a beautiful place here in Australia, something seems to be drawing me back to Britain - maybe after 33 years in oz, I see it as a 'new start in familiar surrounding'. I like the British way of life and the British people.
I never saw enough of the country during the years I lived there and I want to put that right, by visiting as much of the place as I can.

Although, having said that, I don't intend to completely sever my ties with Australia and I will keep my house here (luckily I am in a position where I am able to keep a home in both places). I will also take out dual citizenship, which I've not done up to now, so that I can come and go without hassle.

I've got grown up children (2) and good friends here in Australia and I wouldn't want to break the ties with them completely.
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Postby yosser » Tue 13 Dec 2005 03:10 GMT

Mmm, interesting. I left the UK in 1992 to go to an area of higher opportunity in my field. The challenge now, of course, is the aging parents and whether or not to return. Realistically my Dad only has a decade left and so want to spend time with him. The tricky aspect is that the job here is good and kids are happy and have good friends. My greatest fear is that I throw this all away and return to a place that has changed and have to spend 2 hours/day on the tube and can't afford to live anywhere decent and the kids hate school etc. Alternatively we may just love it and wonder what we were doing away for so long!
Sometimes you just wish you were a fisherman or something without these complicated decisions!
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Postby SSue » Tue 13 Dec 2005 10:16 GMT

We left UK in '78 for the land of opportunity. Our town hit a slump. Factories were closing and the unemployment rate was high and rising with almost every other school leaver joining the dole queue. We were concerned about the future for our son.

We had a visit from one of Bill's oldest friends who had settled in Adelaide about ten years previously, and he had done so well there.

Then Bill's sister came for a visit from Sydney, and again, compared to us, they were living in luxury with their two cars, girls at top private schools, and beautiful home.

Well moving to Aus was the best thing we ever did, and hard work paid it's rewards for us too. We bought land and built our house, which was large enough for my parents to live with us, when they eventually came out to join us, some five years later. I should add that I'm an only child, for those who don't know me, so it was either stay two years and put it down to exoerience and go back, or, if we stayed, they would join us.

I think the big mistake we can all so easily make, is to think that we can go back to places and people, after being away for many years, and expect time to have stood still there, and to walk right back into the familiarity of the life we remember, and hold dear. I guarantee you, it won't be there, and nothing will be quite the same as when you left it.

People die, kids grow up and you don't even recognise them, couples part, others leave the town. Old buildings get demolished, and new ones take their places, making areas that you knew so well hardly recognisable.

Luckily I couldn't be happier living here in Port, but I can understand that others might want to return to their roots eventually, and more so if family ties are involved.

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Postby Dave » Wed 14 Dec 2005 02:54 GMT

Living close to family wasn't a consideration for us. In any event, both our mothers are dead, and so is Kay's Dad.

But as luck would have it, my Dad lives twenty minutes' walk away here in Naklua. We didn't plan it that way, it just happened that many of our friends in Thailand live in the Pattaya area, so we chose to look for a place here rather than, say, Chiang Mai. Then when it came to house-hunting we found a place we really liked that also happened to be convenient for Pattaya city (10 mins by foot, 10 mins by "bus"). The fact that my Dad lives just up the road is a coincidence, but a very nice one. :D
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Postby ruggie » Fri 16 Dec 2005 10:36 GMT

Living in France is cheating, perhaps. We're here as much because it's rural as because it's France. You don't get this population density outside the Scottish Highlands, which we loved when we lived there, but we also feel more at home in a culture that is in some ways 50 years behind that in most of the UK (sadly, we can see it heading the same way, but we'll be pushing up daisies long before it happens).

Another big reason for being here is the quality and availability of health services - we're getting old.

However, we have friends (including our two sons) in the UK, and there are many things we enjoy there. My wife is a 'frequent user' of the Channel Tunnel, so we can cross with a fully laden car very cheaply, and there are several airports with low cost flights within a couple of hours' drive.

It would be more realistic to say that we live in mainland Europe, but have occasional reasons to visit the member nation across the Channel.
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Reasons for leaving the UK

Postby Lainey » Mon 19 Dec 2005 01:20 GMT

Hi Yosser

For me, it was a lifestyle change for my daughter. Being married to an Aussie and having seen both sides of the world I felt a strong motherly urge to "do the right thing" for my little girl. I knew I was making a huge sacrifice leaving my family and friends behind, but in a way I was looking forward to a change for myself....however, reality check!!! Homesickness should never be under rated and if allowed to, can destroy everything.

I have been back to the UK twice and still keep getting on the plane to come back to OZ (although last journey nearly didn't!!). I think I am kind of hoping that one day I will feel I belong here and settle down, but as yet for me that is still to come....5 years on.

For all those who are homesick this Christmas time....remember you are not alone and this website is the best thing ever! This is my first visit and I wish I knew about it before.!! :D
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Postby Kay » Mon 19 Dec 2005 08:22 GMT

Hi Lainey

Welcome to BE! Join in and make some new friends. I'll start a new topic about homesickness rather than take this one off topic. See you there?

Kay :D

[Edited: on re-reading this it might be construed as if I was suggesting that Lainey hadn't replied on topic. Not at all! Sorry for any confusion. I just thought that she had raised an important issue which was well worth discussing - homesickness. I also wanted to welcome her to BE without hijacking the thread into a welcome instead of discussing the topic in hand. I think I was a bit clumsy. Sorry! Maybe I worry too much and no one noticed anyway. :roll: Lainey, if you read this please do feel welcome to join in. We're a friendly bunch and we all like making new friends. ]
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Postby JayneR » Mon 19 Dec 2005 09:37 GMT

Off topic -

Hi Lainey,

Welcome from me too! Yeah, I agree with you about this site. It "saved" my life! But beware, be very aware ... :lol: It's extremely dangerous. I'm forever burning lunch or dinner cos I just nip in for a quick look and get lost in time. :lol:

Back on topic - reasons for leaving ...
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Postby Dave » Mon 19 Dec 2005 11:27 GMT

ruggie wrote:Another big reason for being here is the quality and availability of health services - we're getting old.


Not a reason for us - yet! - but an increasing number of people are coming to Thailand for healthcare purposes; the quality of care is excellent if you're prepared to pay enough for it, and it's still cheaper than private healthcare in the UK. I'm not sure how many are making permanent moves to Thailand for medical care, but I'd be surprised if there weren't at least one or two.
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