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British Expat Newsletter: February 2014

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

Here’s our news about the latest additions to the BE website.

Following on from the success of Dave’s Facts Lab Book of Brazil, we’ve just launched The Facts Lab Book of Insects! Better news still for you all is that it’s currently free from Amazon’s Kindle Store, so if you’re quick you can grab a copy now. But you’ll have to hurry – the free offer ends at 0800 GMT on Sunday 2 March. Don’t delay!

Just like the last Facts Lab book launch, we’ve tied in this month’s Quick Quiz with the theme of our new book, so this time it’s all about insects. Again, it’s based on some of the facts we’ve used in the book. See how many you can get right!

Restaurants are particularly vulnerable during times of economic hardship. However, help may be at hand for a few British expats, from multi-Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay, who’ll be bringing his own particular brand of tough love (and a camera crew from Optomen Television) to British-run restaurants in Europe. So if you’ve got a struggling business that could do with a boost, and you don’t mind going on the telly, why not give Optomen a call? You’ll find details on the Eds’ Blog.

Those of you in the US, on the other hand, may be tempted by our latest find there – the excellent range of homebrew and home winemaking ingredients and equipment from Minneapolis-based Midwest Supplies. And if alcohol isn’t your thing, then why not try cheesemaking or roasting and grinding your own coffee? They’ve got that covered, too!

And our latest Pic of the Week is again on an insect theme – or is it? It’s an Afghan stamp depicting something that looks like a beetle, but the caption clearly says it’s a reptile…

Editorial: Expats – no longer extraordinary?

Are expats extraordinary people? Not any more, it seems. (Present readership excepted, of course – we know you’re special!)

Well, individually there are still some extraordinary folks who are expats. But the point is that it’s not such an unusual thing any more. The number of British expats has risen sharply in recent years – according to research by the IPPR, the number of Britons living abroad doubled between 2006 and 2013.

It’s hard to be sure exactly how much truth there is in those particular statistics. We at BE have lost count of the number of times we’ve been approached by students or other researchers wanting to know the exact statistics of British expats in a particular country. We’ve had to tell them that as far as we know, there are no accurate statistics. Besides, definitions of what constitutes “living abroad” can be a bit woolly.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that there’s been a marked increase in the number of Britons choosing to wave bye-bye to Blighty, at least temporarily. So much so, in fact, that newspapers like the Telegraph think it’s worth their while to dedicate a whole section of their website to them. Why should that be?

The reasons themselves haven’t changed particularly. People may move abroad because that’s where the work and/or the money is; opportunities may be more plentiful and more lucrative elsewhere in the world. University graduates embarking on their careers may decide it’s better to take the risk of looking overseas than it is to compete with their peers in the domestic job market – often with no better prospect than an unpaid internship, only to find after several months that the company would prefer to exploit another intern’s free labour rather than give them a contract.

They may be retired and looking to make their pensions go further, or hoping to find a more congenial climate. In an ageing population, pensioners are becoming an increasingly important demographic in the economy. But that doesn’t yet seem to have percolated through to efforts to make the cost of living in the UK more attractive to them. Small wonder that many older people choose to look overseas to places where the heating bills are lower and the medicines are cheaper. They may have to pay for the health care, but it’s perfectly possible to find good doctors whose rates are reasonable in middle-income countries like Brazil or Thailand.

Others may be disillusioned with the changes in Britain over the past few decades and leaving to seek a society that’s run more in lines with the values they hold themselves. (Some people complain loudly about the number of immigrants swamping the UK. The irony that they’re now doing exactly the same in another country seems to escape them entirely.)

But becoming an expat has also become a lot easier now than for previous generations. Within the EU, of course, one big reason for this is because legislation’s enabled it – EU citizens who are able to support themselves in another member state are entitled by law to live there on broadly the same terms as the citizens of that state.

The other big reason goes beyond the EU, though. There’s just so much more information available now. It’s true that there was plenty of emigration in the past, and kids would grow up reading about some of the pioneering spirits that built the Empire in faraway lands like Australia, Canada or Africa. But for most of them, it was a dream rather than an aspiration – and it was very often a one-way journey, as with the “ten pound Poms” after the Second World War.

Nowadays, it’s much easier to know before you go. There are countless forums, blogs and other websites able to provide up-to-date information and personal perspectives, rather than printed books that have already started going out of date by the time they’ve reached the printer, let alone the bookshops. You can plan ahead and make contact with people on the ground where you’re going, so that you can slot into a community that much more quickly – possibly even before you’ve made the move! And, of course, with all the communication channels the Internet offers – email, Skype, Facebook and the rest – it’s so much easier to keep in touch with folks back home.

Yes, of course there are still difficulties and hardships, and adjustments to be made. And if things go wrong, as they did for so many expats when the pound weakened against most currencies in the late 2000s, they can go very wrong indeed. But these days it’s a lot easier to plan ahead, or to revise your plans if you hit a major unforeseen snag. And at least you’ll find plenty of advice from other people in the same boat.

Why not join in on the forum and tell us what you find most difficult about being an expat and what made the transition easier for you?

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

And now for something completely different…

Think you know your way around the world? Here’s a great game on the BBC’s Travel website where you’re plonked down somewhere in the world on Google Street View and have to try to identify where you are. The closer you get to your true location, the more points you get. You can set time challenges, pit your skills against friends, and boast about them afterwards on Facebook and Twitter.
BBC Travel: Geoguessr (not available in UK)

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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