Canada’s not the first country which many of us would think about when building a new life overseas as an expat, but a recent survey showed that the very richest, top earning British expats are more likely to choose Canada than anywhere else. Many are attracted by the fact that the UK and Canada has long historic links, the culture is not too different from home and we share a common language. In addition, Canada offers wild open spaces and spectacular scenery and a very good education system for expats with children. High earning British expats in Canada are making a huge contribution to the company’s economy, both in terms of the tax which they pay into the system and the expertise they bring to their employers.
If you are looking for truly rich expat Brits, then the best place to start the search is in the Gulf States. Most expat Brits have been sent to places like Dubai or Kuwait for work, and the tax-free salaries and benefits packages on offer mean that although only 10% of British expats live in the Gulf States, the expats living there account for 25% of total savings held by Brits overseas. Salaries are high in the Gulf States, but sometimes the culture and heat makes this destination less attractive than other places for families, especially those with young children.
47% of expat Brits living in Hong Kong are on salaries of over £100k, mainly due to Hong Kong’s position as the Asian centre of the banking and finance industry. The number of expats in Hong Kong has declined since the colony reverted to Chinese control, but Hong Kong remains a cultural melting pot and a great place to raise children, experience a different way of life and have fun too. Singapore is a similar destination, and attracts high earning professionals too.
High earning expats are in huge demand in Australia at present as the country struggles to fill high level positions in the medical professions and finance. This brain drain offers great opportunities for professionals from the UK to move overseas, earn more money and enjoy the Aussie lifestyle, and Australia benefits by being able to attract the best quality people from all over the world. As well as attractive working conditions and good salaries, expats in Australia find that they have a better work and life balance, and a generally more relaxed way of life than here in the UK.
The debate about the UK’s future in the European Union is heating up, with the announcement that if the Conservatives win the next election, a referendum will be called allowing the people to vote. The arguments for and against staying in the EU are complex, but expect to hear lots more from people on both sides of the argument before any referendum is called. Here are some of the main reasons why membership of the EU is a good thing for the UK.
Most of the buying and selling we do of British goods are services is with our closest neighbours in Europe. British companies are free to trade with our European partners without restrictions, and this would not be the case if we left the Union. There may also be tariffs placed on British goods, making them more expensive if we were not part of the EU.
The European Union has done more than any other organisation to ensure that the nations of Europe live harmoniously. Gone are the days where European nations regularly went to war with each other, and the period since the advent of the EU has been one of the most stable in history. There is no knowing where the potential break down of the EU would lead the UK, and Europe as a whole.
Freedom of Movement
At present, as a member of the EU a British person has the right to go and live and work in Italy, Germany or France without restrictions. If the UK were to leave the EU this right would not be guaranteed and anyone intending to move abroad would be in the position of having to apply for a visa. Job prospects would be limited and it may also leave the UK in the position of being unable to fill many low paid jobs.
Part of the job of the EU is to regenerate areas which are deprived or have high levels of unemployment. EU money has been used here in the UK to improve rail links, regeneration projects in the Highlands and to fund investment in renewable energies. Leaving the EU would mean all of this money would stop.
Moving abroad to live can be a very daunting prospect. A good support network is essential, but it can take some time to get to know people when you move somewhere new. All over the world there are British expats in the same boat, and there are some tried and tested methods of meeting people, exchanging tips and sharing ideas.
Anywhere in the world where there is a large concentration of expats, there will be a local British club or association. Typically these associations will host various social events through the year and are the ideal place to meet people. The hard bit is going along for the first time and forcing yourself to speak to people you don’t know, but people are open and friendly to newcomers and you’ll fit in easily. You don’t need to get into lengthy conversation with everyone you meet, just smile and say hello and let them know you’re open to chatting if they want to.
Even before you move you can get online and start getting ideas and tips from people who are already living overseas. Internet forums for expats are all over the web, so look for one specific to the area you live in or for parents with young children or whatever applies to you best. Facebook can also be a good way to research what is going on in the city or region where you live overseas and using the internet to make new contacts is free, simple and something which can be done from the comfort of your sofa.
Office or School
If you are living overseas with children, school or playgroup can be a valuable source of contacts with the other parents. Many British expat children attend international schools, so get onto the PTA and make contact that way. International companies which employ a large number of expat staff also have an active social scene, and many will have staff dedicated to helping new arrivals settle in and to help with all of those local customs and peculiar laws which newcomers find hard to grasp.
Two of the most popular overseas destinations for UK nationals heading abroad are Australia and France. It is estimated that there are over a million British-born people living in Australia, and over a quarter of a million in France. But what are the factors which keep them from coming home?
Many people who move overseas permanently do so to escape the cold and wet of a British summer, and the fact that we have just had one of the wettest years on record does nothing to encourage them to return home. The outdoor lifestyle is something which most emigrants to warmer climes wish to experience, and once you have had a taste of being able to eat outdoors most of the year it’s hard to imagine returning home.
The world economy has gone through turbulent times in recent years, and the value of properties, salaries and other assets have fallen or risen in value. Many expats take the view of “better the devil you know” and don’t want to risk losing out by moving back home and then being unable to find a job or afford a property in their preferred location. Australia in particular has weathered the economic storm far better than other parts of the world, and staying put may well be the sensible option.
Gone are the days when getting to Australia meant 6 weeks on a boat. Now we think nothing of hopping on a plane, and the simplicity of travel means that moving abroad is no longer the wrench it used to be. Flights are competitively priced, and as more of us start to travel by air, increased competition means the service is getting better too.
Inventions such as Skype and internet mean that keeping in touch with loved ones in the UK is far easier, wherever you are in the world. Homesickness is far less of a factor when you can email pictures every day, or have a Skype call whenever you feel a bit lonely. The cost of this technology is coming down all of the time, and makes being overseas far more affordable.
Apart from family and friends, the thing that Brits living overseas miss the most are the peculiarly British food, drink and sweets which are just not available abroad. If you simply can’t live without your favourite brand of teabags or breakfast cereal, there are several options in the USA for getting your Brit food fix.
There are several websites offering the chance to buy all of the products you are familiar with from home. Shopping online is very easy and most companies will deliver anywhere in the United States or Canada. Shipping charges are quite steep though, and you will also pay far more for the products than you would in a UK supermarket. The convenience and ease of purchase though makes it the ideal solution for anyone living miles from a UK food shop.
If you live in areas where there are a lot of British and Irish tourists, you will probably be able to pick up your British favourites such as cans of beans, bottles of diluting orange squash or jars of pickle in the supermarkets along with the rest of your groceries. This is especially the case in the Orlando area, which is popular with both expats and visitors to the theme parks. The selection isn’t enormous though, and for specialist products you will have to look elsewhere.
Small Outlets and Delis
The greatest concentration of specialist shops selling British products is again in Florida. Some sell the tins and packets which you can find online, whereas others specialise in a niche of the market, such as Scottish products or confectionery only. There are also a number of British restaurants or cafés where you can indulge in fish and chips or a cream tea. If you are struggling to find the product you are looking for in stores closer to home or online, and you have no visitors coming over the pond to bring you what you need, many of the smaller independent stores will be happy to take an order over the phone and then send it out to you.
If you’ve always had an adventurous streak, or have the opportunity to study abroad as part of your degree, you’ve probably already investigated the possibilities of going out of the UK to study. With the introduction of tuition fees for many courses, studying out of Europe isn’t the expensive option as it used to be. Students around the world were asked their opinions on the best cities to study, and the following places came out on top.
Top of the pile was Paris, which boasts a host of world-known Universities such as the Sorbonne. There are more top class Universities in Paris than anywhere else in the world, and with an emphasis on small class sizes and access to experts in the field, it’s easy to see why an increasing number of UK students are packing their bags and heading across the Channel. They are not alone; 17% of Parisian students are not French, giving a very cosmopolitan and vibrant flavour to Uni life. The only drawback is that you will need to speak French fluently for most of the degree courses on offer.
The obvious benefit of studying in Boston is that there is no language barrier, and British students slot into the American way of life well. Harvard, Northeastern Uni and MIT all have their homes in Boston and are among the most prestigious Universities in the world. Fees are much higher than Europe at around $50k per year, but there are attractive scholarships on offer for students from the UK although competition for the few available places each year is intense. 1 in 5 students at Boston Universities also come from outwith the United States.
Although Canberra is the capital, the vast majority of the best Universities in Australia are in the Melbourne area. A third of the students studying in Melbourne are international students, and although fees can be higher than in the UK, cost of living is considerably less than in Boston, London or Paris. Add in the laid back Aussie lifestyle and the opportunity to explore some of the stunning countryside, then it’s easy to see why studying in Australia is so attractive.
A generation ago, most of us studied in our home town, or at another university or college in a neighboring city. All that is changing rapidly, and Universities are encouraging international students not only to broaden the experience and appeal of their courses, but also as a valuable revenue stream. Nowadays, there are as many as 4 million students worldwide studying in overseas. So where are all of these students going?
English Speaking Countries
The most attractive countries for international students are those which have English as a first language, namely the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. The quality of education in these countries is first rate, and there is also a great deal of movement between them as students search out the course which is best for them. The nation which sends most students to English speaking countries to be educated is India, closely followed by China and South Korea.
The countries in Europe which have the highest percentage of international students are Austria and Switzerland. Education standards are high, and fees are comparable or even less than what students would be expected to pay in the UK. Germany is another huge attraction for overseas students and was ranked as one of the cheapest places to be a student in the world as living costs such as rent are relatively low, there is a good student community and students qualify for many discounts in leisure or public transport.
European Common Market legislation means that students from the UK are treated the same way as native born students if they choose to study anywhere in the European Union. With top Universities such as Oxford or Cambridge charging up to £9,000 for each year of a three year degree, the fees at European Universities can be as low as £1,500 per year. If the thought of studying in Holland doesn’t appeal, Irish Universities charge around half of what the top UK Universities charge, but competition for places can be intense and studying in Dublin is not a budget option.