A third of Britons want out

Jun 04 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A third of Britons are considering moving abroad to live or work as dwindling pensions, workplace stress and the poor quality of daily life makes the overseas option increasingly attractive.

A report from the Alliance & Leicester bank and think-tank the Centre of Future Studies reckons that as many as six million British people may up sticks and move abroad by 2020.

An estimated one million Britons have already retired abroad, with around 850,000 are working outside the UK.

While four million of those moving are expected to be of retirement age, around two million younger Britons will also be emigrating, the research suggests.

A growing appetite for overseas holidays has increased exposure to new experiences, fuelled by television programmes such as ‘A Place in the Sun’ – preparing the ground for later retirement abroad.

Additionally, the increased affluence of British people coupled with the strong pound and booming property prices have boosted the market for overseas buying.

Four of ten of those considering moving overseas said that they were looking for a better quality of life, with the same proportion saying that they were hankering after new experiences. One in four said they wanted to move simply because they wanted ‘a new challenge’.

The report's authors say destinations that place a greater value on leisure and lifestyle will become more attractive, putting Australia, Canada and even Scandinavia higher up the list.

Having a better lifestyle is an even stronger motivation for people working long hours in pressurised, highly paid, occupations such as those working in the City, the report added.

Simon Hull, Managing Director of Alliance & Leicester International said: “Emigration clearly is seen as a fresh start allowing people to reinvent their lifestyles and with luck, themselves too!

“It does seem to suggest a level of dissatisfaction with existing lifestyles such as excessive stress in the workplace coupled with a negative impact on personal relationships and happiness.

“Our research forecasts that Britons will constantly be on the lookout to change their lifestyle at the blink of an eye. In the past, people may have moved abroad because of high unemployment levels in the UK – now they may move because of a superficial desire to do ‘something new’ for the sake of doing something.”

The biggest worries people have about moving and living overseas are missing their family, the logistics of moving, healthcare and language.

But as Simon Hull pointed out, opportunities will only increase for Britons moving abroad as governments welcome skilled labour – particularly in the technology, health, construction and manufacturing sectors.

The international expansion of organisations, the varied role of new technology and a reduction of barriers to entry as travel becomes easier and cheaper will also enable more people to fulfil their ambition for new experiences.

“The number of people prepared to and excited by moving abroad – whether it be for work or leisure purposes – is rising significantly, and a number of new destinations are coming through,” he said.

“Areas such as Spain, America, Australia and Canada will remain popular, but interestingly nations such as India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Asia and Brazil will become economically more attractive.”

The research, which questioned 3,000 people, highlighted substantial differences of opinion between professions, with senior managers citing France and Spain as their favoured destinations and City and finance workers, manual staff and middle managers naming Spain as their favourite.

The US was the favoured destination among students, with service sector staff the most enthusiastic about migrating to Africa and the Middle East.