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British Expat Newsletter:
3 December 2008

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Comings and goings
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

With the world economy taking a sharp turn for the worse in the second half of 2008, there has been a lot of conflicting news recently about expats and their comings and goings.

On the one hand we’re told that those approaching retirement are fleeing Britain to find a cheaper cost of living elsewhere. Why? Well, for starters the weakening pound means rising import costs. Many of those about to retire will have far less money to retire on as a result of the the erosion of many pension funds in recent years. And the downturn in property prices means that those who’d been banking on selling a large city house, buying a smaller, cheaper one in the country somewhere and pocketing the difference no longer have anything like as much difference to pocket.

RIAS, a specialist insurer for the over-50s, have conducted research which shows that more than 400,000 over-50s are currently actively planning to leave the UK – and as many as one in ten more in that age group (that’s nearly another two million!) are considering following them.

Of course, it’s not just pensioners. Shelter Offshore – which seems to specialise in advising high earners to find tax havens – published a rather self-serving, politically biased and weasel-worded article which claimed that many of the 300,000 high earners expected to be paying more tax in the new 45p tax band would be leaving the UK as a result.

Hmm… let’s take someone earning half a million a year. Leaving aside the personal allowance, that means they’re earning £350,000 that’s taxed at the higher rate. So they’re paying an extra 5p in the pound on £350,000… that’s £17,500 more tax. In other words, they’re only getting £290,000 instead of £308,000. Do you think they’ll notice? 😉

So where are the popular destinations? Well, Australia’s a perennial favourite, and the Office for National Statistics reported that it topped the list of emigration destinations in 2007 (followed by Spain, New Zealand and the US). But RIAS Managing Director Janet Connor suggested that the Mediterranean – France and Italy, as well as Spain – were popular, partly because of the climate, diet and lifestyle but also because the European Commission reckoned that those countries’ economies were likely to pick up sooner than most other EU economies.

Nevertheless, those who’ve already moved overseas face problems of their own. Former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane was quoted in the Daily Mirror as predicting that Britons living in Spain would soon face anti-foreigner attacks, as unemployed Spaniards blame British expats for “Taking Our Jobs”. He said that the burden on the Spanish healthcare system of large numbers of elderly Britons had already caused what he described as “rumblings”.

That’s maybe a bit on the alarmist side. But British expats face more immediate financial problems. For those who’d budgeted carefully on the basis of the exchange rates the pound’s enjoyed for much of the last decade, the fall in the pound’s value has left them seriously short of money. The Independent carried an article in late November which described some of the hardships faced by those who’d retired to Spain on little more than the basic state pension and who have seen the value of that pension drop by nearly 20% this year. And pensioners who live outside the European Economic Area, or in a country which doesn’t have a reciprocal agreement with the UK, face the same problem – but with the added insult of a frozen pension.

So in many cases expats are having to fall back on their savings. It’s some consolation, at least, that the average expat is better placed to do that than the average UK resident. According to Alliance & Leicester International, the five-and-a-half million Britons living outside the UK have managed to save an average of £54,600 per household, compared with the average in the UK of £31,300. The picture’s distorted somewhat by expats in the Gulf, who are only 10 per cent of the total but account for nearly a quarter of expat savings.

Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Just a few suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

The Office for National Statistics has plenty of interesting stats about migration to and from the UK. They’ve published a summary of movements in 2007, together with links to several other related reports and stories.

Here’s a link to the Scottish Government figures for Scotland’s population and migration statistics. (Not so very long ago they were encouraging immigration to stave off a decline in population below 5 million, but they may have turned the corner now.)

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • being a man in bed
  • silver lasses molasses
  • high heel piggyback
  • how do you spell the british word governor
  • lacy slip around his penis
  • hair wholesalers spain
  • little acorn emba
  • chefs that make prawn cocktail
  • japanese men touching leg hair
  • industrial pastry poland

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain, US author (1835-1910)

Joke

A few years ago a high-flying couple in their fifties decided to go to the Canaries to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they’d spent their honeymoon 25 years earlier. But business commitments meant that they had to travel on separate flights, with the husband travelling the day before his wife.

The husband checked into the hotel – where, by coincidence, some friends of his wife’s happened to be staying – and, being a dutiful husband, headed straight to the hotel’s spanking new business centre to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally put “.com” instead of “.co.uk” at the end of her email address, and without realising his mistake, hit “Send”.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the States, a widow had just returned home from the funeral of her late husband, a Methodist minister who had died following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen, which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve arrived!
Date: January 13, 2002

I know you’ll be surprised to hear from me. Believe it or not, they’ve just installed computers here and you are allowed to send emails. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. They’re expecting you here tomorrow and I’ve been assured that everything will be ready for you.

Hope you have a better journey than I did. Never mind, you’ll find some familiar faces here when you arrive.

PS It’s even hotter down here than you could imagine!

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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