In a March 3, 2009 article at the IFAOnline website, Sarah Griffiths writes:
“Almost a third of Britons are considering buying a property overseas or moving abroad in the future, Halifax International says.”
According to the firm, 27% of individuals surveyed said they were considering the move.
See the whole article here.
Although the numbers leaving the US are huge, it’s certainly nowhere near a third of the population. One thing this article doesn’t make clear, however, is how many of those Brits are just looking for a vacation property, and how many are considering a real move.
Condor 451 says
I think that American exceptionalism has, in part, been fueled by adventuresome spirits. I see expatriation as a logical component of that thinking. When I observe what is now the American cultural landscape of drug stores, fast food eateries, walled and gated suburbs, and the pseudo-adventures found in amusement parks, I wonder what we have really bought into. True, there is a certain pragmatism that has taken hold in regards to “medical tourists” but, in general, most seem sedated by this lifestyle. I would be amazed if 3 in 10 Americans considered living abroad.
Condor451 – I agree with your well-reasoned statements. The American lifestyle has produced a pseudo-bubble in which its residents live in a fantasy world. Those trapped within are unaware of the world around them. A daily regimen of filtered news coupled with luxurious lifestyles (relatively speaking), have transformed the States from a country of hardened entrepreneurs into a pallid mass of lemmings. Most Americans never imagine leaving their borders… why should they? They are in a dream they don’t want to wake up from.
Expat in Switzerland says
My husband and I were really awed by the beauty and history of Italy in 2003 when we went there on vacation. Coming from Indiana we had been raised in a very family-oriented environment, but I suppose we felt there was so much more to see and experience than farm-fields and corn.
Since 2003 we set a goal to move to Italy. We thought it would be an amazing experience and we wanted to learn about another culture, learn another language and explore. As newlyweds, I think we also wanted to be different and conquer a challenge together on our own.
In 2008 my husband found a job in Switzerland and accepted the offer. It may not be Italy, but we were happy to take an opportunity to move abroad to another beautiful country and are happy we made the choice. My husband signed a one-year contract but our goal was to live in Switzerland for at least 3 years. The longer we’re here, the more we enjoy it.
I agree with the article I’ve attached, that Americans tend to be wealthy and can afford to travel and enjoy to travel (my feeling is because Americans need to get away from stressful lives). I would say that a lot of the younger generation sees flaws in our government/way of life and our parents don’t understand that we want things to change. We would like better working conditions, better education, more opportunities to be creative, etc.
Here’s an older article that I read and found interesting:
I see our country in a new light after I moved to Switzerland. I see it less glamorous than I once had. I see the benefits of living in Switzerland over the US and I ask, “Why can’t we improve?” I see huge differences when it comes to time off for new employees or blue-collar workers, health care costs, education, food quality (with so many preservatives, fats, colorings, etc. in American food), buying locally, a day when all the stores close, the value of a person over a machine, the value of walking over driving, emphasis on recycling, etc. I agree with “Condor 451” that Corporation are starting to run the US and it’s not for everyone. I feel that greedy people are given too many privileges in the US while Switzerland forces a company care more for the welfare of its employees.
I agree with the article that we’re free to have our thoughts but we’re also likely to be met with resistance. Many of my aunts and uncles would argue for a more conservative views and they would argue that our generation is lazy or unappreciative if we want something better. If our thoughts don’t match their own they become “un-American.” I tend to think we have such varied views in the US that it’s hard to know what to say about our country and its expatriate population, but I do believe there will continue to be more expatriates from the US if our economy stays strong. My generation has a great curiosity about the world, travel is easier and more affordable and companies are more open to sending people abroad or hiring foreigners than ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I would also be surprised if 3 in 10 Americans considered living abroad also. I think a lot of Americans hold onto their values of family and owning a single-family home and just wouldn’t be happy abroad. Plus, moving from one area of the US to another can be like moving to a different country because it’s huge and so varied in landscape and views. I wonder how often people move in the US compared to other countries.
Why are so many Brits leaving? Because they can or because they want to escape? I would say for most Americans it’s because they can. A major exodus could be a sign of a lot of different things though.
Thanks, Condor 451, Brian and Expat in Switzerland, for your thoughtful comments and insights. I guess the reason I posted the excerpt was because I found the 1 in 3 number surprising as well. I think it’s true that many Americans live inside the “bubble” Brian mentioned. Some of them do so by choice, some out of ignorance or disinterest. Our failing public education and our news media run by beancounters are partly to blame.
I’ve also wondered whether part of the American exceptionalism, the “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” idea that seems to be hard coded in our DNA, isn’t taken advantage of by a government that gives enormous subsidies and tax incentives to bootmakers who manufacture the footwear without straps of any kind . . . How else do you explain our position as the only western, industrial country that doesn’t provide health care for its people?
Alison Kerr says
As an expat Brit/Scot I’m not really all that surprised about the statistic on 1/3 Brits considering leaving the country. Europe has opened up a lot in the last 10 years. It used to be harder to work outside your birth country, to get health care etc. People from the south of England seem to move to France to get more land – the population density is lower than it is in England. There are more low cost flights from Britain to Europe than there were 10 years ago. I’ve even heard that the health care is better in other countries compared to Britain. I don’t know if all this is true, but Brits have told me so. And then there’s the weather. If you need some sunshine and live in the north it might be tempting to move to somewhere like Italy or Spain. Then there is the professional aspect. Britain really isn’t a large country. Many professionals travels back and forth to mainland Europe very regularly for business reasons. I’m sure that leads to more familiarity with language and opens the consideration of moving.
Hi Alison, thanks for your comment. You make some good points, especially the traveling back and forth for business, which could lead to moving.