A better lifestyle is the main draw for British expats, survey finds

by Ray Clancy on April 24, 2012

The internet plays a major role in allowing families to stay in touch

Most people move abroad for lifestyle and work reasons but they are less home sick because of the internet as they keep in touch with family and friends online, research has found.

Over two thirds, 69%, successfully embrace their new society and associated customs and 87% say moving was the right decision to make, according to the fifth annual NatWest International Personal Banking quality of life index.

A better lifestyle is top of the list for 81% of expats and career conscious expats move for work assignments with 68% stating this as their main reason, the global report in conjunction with the Centre of Future Studies also found.

It reveals the things expats miss most about the UK have changed over the past five years. Missing family and friends was once at the top of the list, but is not such a key issue today and the number of expats who miss their nearest and dearest has dropped by 44%.

One explanation for this is the Internet which is crucially changing the way they live their lives abroad. The top internet tools for expats are webmail, Picasa, YouTube, Skype, Google documents, Twitter and Facebook, all of which are bringing family ties online. Expats can see and talk to friends and family in real time.

Factors such as missing the British culture and the English countryside have disappeared from the miss list over the past five years. The dislikes are more concerned with the practicalities of being abroad rather than the miss factors.

In 2008 40% missed the countryside and now it is 0%. Similarly in 2008 32% missed British cultural heritage and now that too is 0%. Four years ago 30% missed British television, now it is 26% while 68% missed family and friends and now it is 47%. But there is still some nostalgia for the good old British pub as 53% still miss the social life in pubs compared with 57% in 2008. The British sense of humour is also much missed, some 41% now compared with 42% in 2008.

The past five years has also seen Australia emerge as the top destination for British expats to move to, with 188,000 Brits moving there.

Expats are in a positive frame of mind and living life ‘as an expat’ continues to fulfil their expectations despite the downturn in global economic prospects over the past five years.

‘Five years ago, home sickness was a factor in the decision to stay or go abroad. But Brits are now finding it easier to up sticks thanks to the plethora of internet tools available. Whilst moving abroad either to work or retire used to mean missing those milestone family events, the reality is that technology has lessened the extent of the emotional trauma or guilt of not seeing an important family event,’ said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

‘Our Quality of Life report demonstrates that expats are continuing to boldly move abroad and are experiencing new cultures, traditions and customs. Over two thirds are successfully immersing themselves in their new society which is hugely encouraging. Integrating with local communities is a key to making the most of their move,’ he added.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lesleyann May 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I moved from the UK to California in 1982 and now am getting ready to move to Mexico where the economy is good, the cost of living is VERY inexpensive and the people are nice. We can live pretty much debt free and have a much slower and cultural way of life.
Contrary to what many believe it is very safe. We have been going to Guadalajara 2-3 times a year for 7 years.


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