According to the Daily Mail, 75,000 Britons are choosing a new life abroad over their traditional life in the UK every single year – but in a frank survey about what advice our expat readers would give to would-be expats, we can reveal that the over riding sentiment is to be realistic.
‘Get real’ is what would-be expats should be warned, according to those who have already made the move abroad, because starting a new life overseas isn’t all about the grass being greener. The realities of every day life change very little no matter where in the world you’re living, and even those who have started a new life in Spain or Bulgaria worry about rising fuel costs and how they’re going to afford to live now that the credit crunch is really beginning to bite.
So, if you’re contemplating a new life abroad to escape the mess that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, George Bush and a bus-load of immature bankers have dropped us in, perhaps you should heed the following words of warning before you pack your bags and head for the airport!
Just 2 years ago the pound was worth almost EUR 1.50, whereas today, at the time of writing this it has slipped to just EUR 1.27. On top of this inflation in the eurozone has gone up sharply on everything from fuel to food prices, with one expat living in Spain telling us that she has noticed almost a 30% gain in grocery costs alone in the last two years. Prices for fuel in Cyprus have soared, prices for building materials in Bulgaria have risen sharply, and everywhere you look expats are feeling the pinch – none more so than those living in America of course. So, to assume that you can kiss goodbye to your old life in the UK and find a much more affordable life abroad can be a myth.
You need to look very carefully at everything from currency exchange risks to the cost of everyday essentials such as petrol and gas, bread and milk and even Internet charges when determining whether you will be better off making the move overseas. Do not assume that because property prices or taxes are lower in your nation of choice, that everything will be cheaper. Next up we need to talk about relativity! The cost of living in Bulgaria may be much cheaper than the cost of living in Britain…but when you move to live and work in Bulgaria you join the Bulgarian economy. What you pay out in a month for your telephone or Internet bill may be a fraction of what you spent in the UK on such charges, and as one Degtev reader pointed out, the cost is the same as you might spend on a coffee from Starbucks in London – but when you’re earning your wage in Bulgarian Lev and you’re locked in to the Bulgarian economy, your income will be relative to what you spend each month in that nation. I.e., it won’t translate positively back to wages or costs in the UK and will effectively isolate you from a return to your home country because of basic economics.
One of our regular readers lives in Mozambique, she moved out there before the boom in property prices in the UK and is today horrified at the rate at which costs and prices have spiralled seemingly ‘out of control’ in the UK. When observed from the outside UK is a volatile basket case – fine if you’re in it for the ride – but if you step off the ride at any point and expatriate, it can be impossible to jump back on again! Would-be expats need to keep this in mind as well, because of all those who move abroad, a very high percentage return home again one day.
Finally, expatriating should not be viewed as a way to run away from your current life because who you are, what influences and irritates you, where you come from, your past and the situation you find yourself in today are massive, fundamental factors in making up who you are. Therefore, by leaving your old life behind and starting a new one abroad you are not so much escaping all of the aforementioned factors, as relocating them to new shores – i.e., who you are comes with you wherever you live! If you’re unhappy with your life and where you are at in life perhaps you should look at the deep reasons why rather than just contemplating an escape.