What is it about us Brits and our desire to live abroad permanently?
Throughout the years of presenting A Place in the Sun I've noticed a growing trend for emigration as more and more people are considering taking the plunge and heading off to sunnier climes for good. Once we're out there it seems we have no intentions of ever coming back either. A recent survey carried out by Lloyds TSB found that 69 per cent of expats have no plans whatsoever to return to Britain; 64 per cent feel they are financially better off living abroad, and a staggering 74 per cent believe that the quality of life is better overseas than back here in good old Blighty!
So what about you? Are you thinking of making the move and upping sticks for a permanent place in the sun? If you are there are a few things you should consider before you do. I have always said the most important thing to consider if you want to relocate is to choose your country very carefully. It sounds obvious but make sure you love both the country you want to move to, and more importantly, its culture. Staying somewhere for a couple of weeks once or twice a year is very different to actually living there.
My mother loves rural France where she lived and ran a B&B for several years. It was truly stunning but very quiet and the pace of life was very slow. For a two-week holiday this might be just what you need but could you cope with shops shutting every Wednesday and shops and banks closing for two hours at lunchtime? Another thing to consider is where you are going to live if you are planning on working. Holiday resorts are not open all year-round and if you choose a country with a high level of unemployment (like Spain) and you are not fluent in the language, chances are you will struggle.
Many people have dreams of opening B&Bs in quaint little villages and I have always thought that would be such a wonderful thing to do but, again, choose your area wisely. B&B Brits flocked to France a few years ago and in my mother's little village in France there were five other couples all trying to do the same thing. Great if you are looking for somewhere to stay, not so great if your livelihood depends on being full for most of the year.
I mentioned learning the language earlier and I cannot stress enough just how important it is. People respond to you much more positively and are more welcoming if you at least try your best; it makes the whole transition much easier. If language really isn't your strong point then perhaps an English speaking country would be better for you. Australia, New Zealand and Canada all offer incredible opportunities so maybe you should seize the day.
The other important thing to consider is family and friends. If you are a close-knit family, think long and hard about moving to the other side of the world. Realistically, although people say they will be out to see you often, in practice you have to be prepared for seeing loved ones maybe just once a year if you're lucky. Even with the advent of Skype helping families to keep in touch: could you cope?
I think the best thing to do if you're considering a permanent move is to rent in your chosen country for a year so you can get a real feel for the lifestyle and see if it is indeed for you. This world is full of such fantastic places and opportunities and I think it's so important to follow your dreams and give it a go but just make sure you think it all through before you do. The day before Mum moved to France I gave her a card which read “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all” which I think pretty much sums it up. Go forth and live that adventure and good luck!