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Emigration from the UK

I am watching a television show on Channel 4 at the moment about how an English couple fare in foresaking the home comforts and routine of life in Essex for the risk-taking venture of running a sailing school in the Canary Islands. As a keen yachtsman myself, I identified quite a lot with the guy who became fed up with a routine day job and dreamed of making a living in the sun. This television show, called No Going Back, has featured a number of couples, mostly young, who have emigrated in the search for a dream job.

In many cases, the people selected for the shows chose to go overseas either because they were bored with life in Britain, fed up with their jobs, their neighourhood, and tempted by the glossy magazine images of life abroad. But the programme makers never directly asked any of them if other factors drove them abroad, such as rising domestic taxes and regulations on business, or the rising level of crime and sliding quality of schooling for their children. Maybe this sort of stuff was considered a bit too political in what are essentially ‘fly on the wall’ documentaries about ordinary folk striving after a dream.

What is clear, more broadly, is that a lot of my fellow Britons have had enough of life in this damp little island off the European continent and want out. Some of the issues I mentioned in the previous paragraph have something to do with it. There have in the past, and indeed now, been examples of some of Britain’s best scientists and entrepreneurs leaving the UK for friendlier and more lucrative places abroad. There is also the simple fact that Britain is so densely populated. It is hard to convey to those who have never been here and who live in big nations just how crowded the UK is, particularly in the economically vibrant bits, such as London and the southeast.

I would love to go and work abroad, if only to savour the experience of living in another land and broadening my horizons. I would, however, like to think that I take such a step for the positive reasons of spreading my wings, rather than because I have been pushed to despair by the state of this nation.

Of course, in years to come, Channel 4 may be screening a show about how a young couple from Essex packed up their belongings and decided to ‘start over’ in the recently terraformed Mars.

61 comments to Emigration from the UK

  • Julian Morrison

    Hmm, population density, seems to me it’s not that there’s so many of us, it’s that we’re all cooped into towns by planning laws that make building in the countryside illegal.

  • ernest young

    Having just posted a lengthy comment, I am loth to post another, but!…

    The English have always had itchy feet, whether at the instigation of persecution, prosecution, or just plain ambition, they have moved to friendlier climes ever since they could find something that floated.

    National Service gave me my itchy feet, having sampled life in the Orient, London, for all of its delights, is very tame. Having said that, I doubt that many successful expats become expats, on a whim, and that most of them give a lot of careful thought to making the move. That is not to say that some are just wistful dreamers or lotus eaters.

    I would think that most now make the move because they see a general deterioration, for whatever reason, in their continuing and long-term lifestyles. As such, I think they should be called ‘exiles’ rather than ‘expats’, as in, ‘resigned, rather than sacked’.

    Talking to many expats over the years, most seem to feel that making a move became necessary as the prospects in the UK diminished. It is surprising how many people find excessive bureacracy to be stifling of spirit. Without exception they all talk of the overcrowding, in spite of Perry’s assertions to the contrary. Mention is made of the increasing crime rate, and the general lowering of the quality of life, because of that.

    That many jump from the frying pan into the fire, by moving to Europe, shows that the EU doesn’t seem to bother them too much, maybe it is just the British interpretation of all that legislation, that scares them, but then they do not really qualify as emmigrants.

  • Tim Haas

    My wife and I — both “old bits” buffs — would desperately love to move our family *to* England, at least for a long stretch if not permanently. Anyone up for a year (or longer) home exchange? We’re just outside of Philadelphia, less than two hours from Manhattan and about three from D.C. You can try out the States, we can bike and hike around Britain with our younguns.

  • Shaun Bourke

    Tim Hass……

    I would have thought from Upper Bucks across to Berks County would be heaven……..

    Ahhh….the bounties of Capitalism ! ! !

  • ernest young


    Depends which you prefer to be – a Buck or a Berk?…:-)

  • Interesting. Anybody know what the net migration to/from England is? I’ve heard numerous comments lately on general quality-of-life subjects, but I wonder what the specific, measurable results are, in terms of people-movement.

  • I’ve lived in Germany for five years now. Didn’t have any conscious intention to emigrate when I came: was footloose (recently divorced), self-employed and got offered a 6 month contract. Thought it might be interesting to spend some time abroad, found that it was and now don’t feel any burning urge to go back (although I wouldn’t completely rule it out either)

    Germany has big social/economic problems, possibly bigger than Britain, but I still find the general quality of life here much better. Some of it is climate and landscape – I love having real summers and real winters and being an hour’s drive from the Alps. Some of it, though, is social quality of life issues as you say – I like being able to go out in the evening without wondering whether I’ll get mugged or come home to find I’ve been burgled. Germany also has a healthcare system that actually works – I’ve never had occasion to use it personally, but it’s reassuring to know it’s there. Was most impressed with the quality of care when my girlfriend was pregnant. Which leads nicely on to my next point: I have a one year old son now, so in a couple of years quality of schools will become an issue for me too. I don’t have a Germany-vs-Britain opinion on that score yet.

  • PS: I do, in fact, think from time to time about how much I would miss my son if he decided to emigrate to Mars and I never got to meet my grandchildren.

    But the same thing happened to lots of people whose kids emigrated to America a hundred years ago.

  • Verity

    Sam S – I read, around two months ago, but didn’t save the item, that there is net emigration of around 80,000. There are tens of thousands of clever, ambitious and independent people getting the hell out. And the unskilled and unassimilable are flooding in.

    Degeneration in quality of life, high crime and the lack of will to tackle it, political correctness, over-mighty bureaucracy and an over-mighty government were all cited.

    I left for the above reasons, plus a degeneration in the way people in Britain now relate to one another – the anger in the air. And because I despise Tony Blair and everything he stands – or, uh, doesn’t stand – for. The lies, the naked ambition to use Britain as a stepping stone to his own greater glory (I believe he’s angling for a job in the White House now; watch for him and the dreaded Cherie to be high profile emigrants).

    France is a slight improvement but it’s not that great.

    Ernest Young, I don’t know where one would go these days to be a lotus eater! If you go to Asia, you will work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life (as I’m sure was your own experience).

  • Sam-S,

    The table below is the balance between the inflow and the outflow (migration) for the UK. Source: Office for National Statistics.(Link) Note – the data was emailed to me from a researcher, so it may not be available readily on the site.

    1996 93.1
    1997 91.9
    1998 177.8
    1999 181.5
    2000 183.4

    It does show a net inflow and the complete table gives the reason for migration in/out of the country. Unfortunately, I don’t have any fresher data.

    Going solely by these statistics, one may think that people aren’t skittering out of here like rats off a sinking ship, however You Gov’s recent survey shows that 55% of Britons have seriously considered leaving , 54% would settle elsewhere given the right to with major frustrations being poor health services, overcrowding & high cost of living amongst others.

    Curiously enough, only 17% of respondents heartily agreed with the statement

    “There is more freedom in Britain than in other countries”

  • Verity

    Monica – I think I read the figure I mentioned above in The Telegraph and it wasn’t from the Office of Statistics – or I don’t think so. It was from some other government behemoth.

    Why is it curious that “only” 17% agreed that there is more freedom in Britain than in other countries. I think that figure is rather high. Although, that may be roughly the percentage of the state educated young adults whose access to the world comes solely through reality television and comic books.

  • Sorry Verity, my post wasn’t meant to cast doubt on your stats, just to throw some out that I had recently (by coincidence) been given.

    I agree with you – it’s quite possible that each gov’t department measures things differently – some may measure the whole UK, others England only, some may measure all in&outflow including temporary visa holders, others may only count UK citizens. Yours may also be a newer statistic – mine stopped at 2000.

    …as for the reason I thought it was interesting that only 17% of people wholeheartedly agreed with that statement? We’re constantly told that the system we’re living under is the freest, that we are in ‘the free world’. I was actually glad that only 17% swallowed the statement whole, leaving 83% that might be in doubt as to exactly how much freedom we have in the UK.

    I thought it curious only because I expected it to be a much higher number.

  • Verity

    Monica – I didn’t think you were casting doubts on my (somewhat vague) statistics! I just thought it was interesting that the figures I’d read were also from official sources, and they were different, that’s all.

    Yes, I suppose the 17% figure demonstrates that the electorate is cannier than the politicians think. From that point of view, yes, it is a surprise.

  • llamas

    I left (from the UK to the US) for both economic and political reasons.

    Economically, I saw no bright future for myself in my chosen profession (engineering) in the UK. After a few years working in industry, it became clear to me that opportunities were few and the work, while generally secure and sometimes interesting, could easily become a life sentence of drudgery.

    Politically, the ever-increasing regulation, the hedging-about of personal freedoms at every turn, and the ghastly ‘jobsworth’ mentality stifled me more and more each year.

    I’d been to the US many times on business and knew that my life would be much better there/here. I knew that none of the countries of the EU could offer me those opportunities, but some places in the Middle and Far East looked very promising also. When I was offered a gold-plated opportunity to emigrate, I took it like a shot, and had that opportunity not come along I’d have been actively looking to find another, even if it were not so gold-plated as the one I got.

    The author Nevil Shute (Norway ) had a theory about the effect of extended emigration from the UK – he felt that it would accelerate the slide into socialism and federalism, since the people who left would tend to be risk-takers, conservative or liberal (small l) in their views, while those who stayed would be risk-averse and more inclined to look for a government to look after them. Maybe he was right.



  • ernest young

    Of course, if that 17% were part of the immigrant influx, then perhaps their perception is correct, in relation to their previous experience…

  • Andrew Duffin

    llamas and Tim Haas, the prospect of moving to the US is exciting, but how on earth did you manage it?

    It’s almost impossible to get into the place for a holiday now, and as for a working visa, well forget it as far as I can tell.

    So what was the trick that worked? (Other than disguising yourself as a Mexican of course)

  • llamas

    I emigrated over 20 years ago, when things were easier. I was offered a job here, which came with a temporary visa (H-whatever) and a commitment to prosecute (and pay for) a green card if there was mutual agreement – IOW, if they wanted me to stay and I wanted to. You’d best believe that I dun my durndest to make sure that they’d want me to stay. I’m still working at the same place, so I must have done something right . . .

    Working visa? Not that hard. We just had a guy from India come here on a 3-year working visa – no particular problems.

    ‘almost impossible to get into the place for a holiday now . . .’? That’s not our experience. We just said goodbye to family visitors from Europe. Immigration formalities, as described, were no more time-consuming than they have been in the past. Back in the 80’s, immigration was a nightmare combo of endless waiting and awesome stupidity on the part of the examining officers – the hiring standards must have improved, and the systems are much better.



  • erwan

    it might not be the first place you’d think of bu Argentina is worth checking out. Great weather, big country, great landscapes, very cheap (since the crisis, a house = GBP10000) everything, close to the mountains, and long beaches. money to be made in tourism, a lot of it!

    My idea was to buy houses, and rent them to holiday makers.
    sure it’s not your 9 to 5 job in london, but your little savings are big there.

  • Tim Haas


    I did it the old-fashioned way — I was born here. I’m the one who actually wants to leave the U.S.

  • Richard

    I’m moving abroad next week to do a postdoc. There’s been maybe three motivations. The major motivation has been driven by boredom with British life. I fancy spreading my wings really. Second, financially the rewards are loads better than in the UK. Thirdly, there are some other issues. Overseas they seem to value people who can do research rather just see us as spongers who can’t get a proper job.

    Of my colleagues in Grad school, quite a few have moved abroad, principally cause there’s more opportunities. I do like Britain and it’s a comfortable, lively and cosmopolitan place. I’ll do my damndest to ensure that this EU constitution doesn’t damage Great Britain any further and will travel back if need be. Longer term, I also plan to return, but I’d like to make and develop my career at an international level.

  • Ted Schuerzinger


    Judging from your comment about being only an hour from the Alps, it sounds like you’re in Bavaria. Hasn’t Edmund Stoiber been responsible for helping Bavaria attain a much stronger economy than the rest of Germany?

    (It’s also ironic that the rest of Germany has the same sort of prejudice towards Bavaria that northerners here in the States have towards the Deep South.)

  • ernest young

    I didn’t want to put it in quite the way that llamas did, but it certainly does seem to be the more independent type of individual that wants to emigrate, and more importantly, who can make a success of it.

    No one has mentioned the big emigration to Australia in the 50’s. Anyone could go – ten pounds, the fare. I think the passage was aboard the Empire Orwell, and her sister ship. Several hundreds of thousands went. Now there was a generation with foresight!…

    A few returned, for reasons of homesickness, but the vast majority stayed.

    Talking of homesickness, folk that I talk to, say that the only thing they miss about England is not the pubs or all that other twee nonsense, or even the ‘beautiful’ countryside, but they do miss friends and family. Lifelong relationships seem to be all that really matter in life, and they are not so easily broken.

    I made the move after all fillial and family duties had been discharged, which meant that I was staring retirement in the face, and that did not look so good a prospect in the UK… and yes, we do still miss family – very much..

  • gordon

    just as interesting is people moving around within their own country. one such example is The Free State Project and their competitors. i’m keeping an eye on this and the similiar projects around… you never know…

  • Ted,

    it’s true that Bavaria has lower unemployment and higher average income than the rest of Germany, but I haven’t been here long enough and don’t follow local politics closely enough to know how much of that is attributable to CSU policies (Stoiber’s party). Munich is the real boomtown, and its Social Democrat mayor Christian Ude has been in office about as long as Stoiber.

    Munich has a lot of desirable factors as a place to live and attracts talented people. Many reasons for that: the second lowest crime rate, after Stuttgart, of any German city; the landscape; the decentralised nature of the German federal republic under which Munich built itself a role as the media capital (some drift Berlinwards in that respect since reunification but still lots left here); the world’s best beer; proximity to even nicer places, landscape and climate-wise, like Austria and Italy. City and state government policies may be helping or hindering, I don’t know – the crime rate certainly suggests policing is done a lot better than, e.g., anywhere in Britain.

    The German economy would probably look a lot less like a basket case, on national average figures, if it weren’t for reunification. There is still a huge gulf between former East & West Germany – parts of the old East have over 20% unemployment; Baden Wurtemberg and Bavaria have around 5 or 6% last time I saw the figures. Bavaria should probably secede (from the Bundesrepublik and the EU) and form an economic union with Slovakia, or something.

  • Verity

    I’ve posted before that this optimism and daring of the emigrant is what made the US so dynamic. What is amazing is, they have managed to pass this on to their children for 250 years, which is astounding.

    I agree with the posters who maintain it is the same, in a sense – although certainly not as fraught with danger – today. Discontented people with little curiosity and little willingness to gamble on themselves will complain but won’t take a chance. The self-reliant take the bit between their teeth and go for it.

  • Jonathan,

    I left France for the US to broaden my professional horizon. After a few years, I came to realize what I had escaped. So even though the initial motivation might be different, the reason for staying can evolve into a strong post-facto ‘keep me out of there’ feeling.

    As for being crowded, that was my only problem with Dublin. In Ireland as in the UK, or on the Continent, there is plenty of room. But the percentage of the population that gathers in a given city can simply be enormous. I don’t think there is any city in the US with the kind of concentration – as a percentage of the overall country – that exists in Dublin, London or Paris.

    Part of it is history, some of it is due to government policy and, of coure, in a statist system where so much money comes from one single source, the simple gravity of power.

    This being said, I’d go back to Europe. But either sunnier places like Barcelona. Or newer, younger, still unscrewed up parts like Eastern Europe.

    I’ve had it with Old Europe. The ancient buildings and cathedrals are worth more to me than its contemporary institutions and societies.

  • llamas

    ernest young wrote:

    ‘No one has mentioned the big emigration to Australia in the 50’s. Anyone could go – ten pounds, the fare. I think the passage was aboard the Empire Orwell, and her sister ship. Several hundreds of thousands went. Now there was a generation with foresight!…’

    Two things, first thing.

    That wave of voluntary emigration was preceded/accompanied by a large wave of migration of ‘displaced persons’ from post-WW2 Europe. These ‘New Australians’ got a free passage in return for a period of directed, paid labour. An awful lot of people who lost everything in Europe got a start-over in Oz. To an extent, these would be more of the same self-reliant types, except that many of them literally had nothing at all to stay for.

    And – to be brutally fair – the immigration policy of Australia was avowedly racist. The ‘White Australia’ policy was just that. While not condoning it, necessarily, it may be remarked that an immigration policy like that may be more successful as tending to assure a degree of cultural homogeneity and easier assimilation.



  • mike

    I graduated with an Engineering degree from Oxford in 2003, and emigrated to The Netherlands (communism light) in October. Reasons?
    1. Job prospects were horrific in the UK. “The country is crying out for engineers” must refer to ‘sanitation engineers’ (toilet cleaners) or something. The jobs I applied for were for stupid money, like 17,000 a year in Central london. I took the 1st job I was offered!
    2. I am a shooting exile. My chosen sport is target pistol shooting, and I clearly can’t do that in the UK.
    3. I hate Tony Blair and his cronies (especially Blunkett).
    4. Quality of life (cost of living etc). About the only thing more expensive here is owning a car.

    It’s interesting being outside the UK and looking in via BBC 1 and 2, and watching all the blatant propagandising (replica guns, fat, smoking, ID cards) and being able to watch it objectively. It’s disgusting really.

  • Verity

    Mike, yes, regarding the UK from another European country is quite an eye opener to the jackboot on the neck of the British. They are beaten about the head and shoulders and bludgeoned every time they turn round; they are mugged and burgled and the police have a jolly good yawn. Their ancient freedom to speak their minds has been surgically excised by Mein Herren Blair and Phillips. The citizenry disarmed. The right to self-defence intentionally clouded and obfuscated to the point where actually, there isn’t any. The Crown is being removed, under the radar, from Britain’s identity. Blair is destroying Britain as a tail-wagging exercise for his European masters in the hope of becoming (unelected, of course) president of the EU. He’s a liar and a cheap opportunist and the most disgraceful prime minister Britain has ever endured.

    Now Blair is “considering banning smoking”. Dear god!

    Anyone who wants an accurate portrait of Blair should read Matthew Parris in this week’s Speccie. It is breathtaking in its candour and accuracy.

  • I’m with verity here – it was the prissy nastiness of Blair (and the thought that millions spported him) that made me leave.

    Funnily of the things that I miss about England one is the over crowding – the sheer compaction of people in London is what give the place chareter and alot of the spaciatialy better endowed cities of the world miss that.

  • ernest young

    I feel it truly astounding that, when I look back, that the place is so alien to any memory that I had of it. I remember the very first post that I made to a comment by David C, was that, ‘ the old place, ain’t what it used to be’, or something along those lines.

    Of course I got a lot of abuse from the most surprising people, along the lines that I was ‘old fashioned’, ‘not with it’ etc, etc. and how I annoyed my critics by writing just what I had seen on a recent visit. They all thought the UK was truly wonderful, and how dare I criticise.

    During the past year the very people that were my harshest critics, have all blogged or commented that their one desire was to move abroad, preferably to the USA. (Hello Alice, still reading blogs?).

    It gives me no pleasure to denigrate my ‘home’ country, but please, you diehard residents, rather than calling out the lynch mob to chase me out of town, just spare a moment to listen to what I and other commenters are saying. We are not saying, that ‘really things are not so good in the Old Country’, out of malice or spite, but because we used to be, (and probably still are), very proud of what the UK used to be all about. We are trying to warn you that you are letting your freedoms go far too cheaply, and far too easily. Just because we see things from a different perspective, does not make us wrong.

    Why not accept the criticism in the manner in which it is offered, as a friendly ‘heads up’, as seen by probably the most caring friends that you have outside of the UK. After all, most of us do have freinds and families still resident in your once ‘sceptred isle’, and we still want the best for them.

    The ultimate irony is that my son-in-law, (Bless his cotton socks!), has just one argument based entirely on the premise that I am brainwashed. His sole source of news is the BBC and occasionally the Telegraph. Tell me, do I laugh or cry…

  • Verity

    Ernest Young – a very gentle post, but you don’t speak for me. I think they deserve every kick in the neck and the kidneys they’re getting from Blair’s/Cherie’s (‘Human Rights’)/Trevor Phillips’s/Jack Straw’s/Patricia Hewitt’s et al’s jackboots, because they allowed it to happen.

    They even allowed themselves to be disarmed, so the only people who have legal guns are the police and the military! How Soviet is that? I haven’t an ounce of sympathy for any of them. They let it happen.

    Giles – I’m with you. The prissy, priggish, hissy sheer nastiness of the self-idolatising Blair and the thugs with whom he surrounded himself motivated me to call in the movers and get the hell out.

    It’s going to take a lot to dislodge them, given that they govern the news – and the British have allowed them to govern the news. The Telegraph kicks out Blairesque articles and leaders daily.

    They did it to themselves.

  • Peter Sykes

    Well, I’m at university just completing a legal practice course and I plan to emigrate within the next couple of years…. as do half of my peers. There’s no real prospects of a good career and life here anymore, and no prospect of buying my own property in London.

    But, I’m sure no one will complain about a bunch of solicitor wannabes emigrating theough!

  • Peter Sykes

    Well, I’m at university just completing a legal practice course and I plan to emigrate within the next couple of years…. as do half of my peers. There’s no real prospects of a good career and life here anymore, and no prospect of buying my own property in London.

    But, I’m sure no one will complain about a bunch of solicitor wannabes emigrating though!

  • as a lawyer your emigration choices are essentially limited to OZ and NZ – and for these you’ll probably need to do about 4 years – if you were serious about quick and unlimited emigration I’d consider accountancy Peter

  • ernest young


    I know just how you feel, :-), but I now have another Grandchild, and I am feeling mellow!…

    Besides, I have never felt very comfortable in wishing ill, or mocking the afflicted …

  • I’m ashamed to admit that 3 episodes of “No Going Back” were filmed on my sprawling hilltop estate in Tuscany (I always like writing that bit), and I can confirm the 100% bogosity of almost every contrived scene in the programme, including the gratuitious death of one of the sheep foisted on some reluctant friends of ours by the programme makers. Any actual event that represented success, contentment, enjoyment and fun was erased, and the voiceover presented an entirely false reality, quelle surprise. Anyway, my reasons for leaving England were as follows :-

    1. School fees. Private schools are relatively unknown here cos the state system works, for some mysterious reason, probably to do with the “clip round the ear” principle so derided by the left.

    2. Climate. My swimming pool in West Sussex got about 10 outings a year.

    3. Quality of life. The Italian general population’s disinterest in regulation and pointless pettifogging (yes, really) means they are much more liberal in outlook (surprising, but true) that the English.

    4. Multiculturalism. There are the same number of immigrants here as in England % wise (inlcuding me!) but they don’t generally irritate the Italians, probably because inter alia sponging social security is such a long-winded and tortuous process it’s simply easier to work, often by flogging gadgets (chinese) or primitive art and ripoff DVDs/CDs (North Africans). Unlike England, I have never, and wouldn’t ever consider , crossing to the other side of the street on sighting a group of African youths. How many English based readers can hand on heart honestly say that? Agrression there ain’t, here, don’t ask me why.

    5. Broadband – Italy is very, very well piped up and it’s cheap. I get BBC Radio live, Radio 7 (check it out, excellent!)

    6. My fine SonyEricsson P900 helps me to stay in business touch via email and net access on the move too. Why be near London any more? Cheaper and quicker for me to go back to EC3 (London’s financial district) than Milan from here.

    I saw a comment the other day in the depressing thread on the problems of Islamic assimilation in England, which was to the effect of “if you can’t be English in England, where can you be?”. I totally disagree. Being English is a philosophical exercise, not a geographic one. People are more uninhibitedly English here that I have EVER seen in England. There is a huge and growing number of people leading normal English lives here, many working “in” London from here, and visiting the London office once a fortnight (like me). I get the English daily papers, English monthly magazines, eat English food (poppudums and sushi) easilly available from local shops. English beer, however, is a bit of a problem – however there’s a brew pub about 15 miles from here that I haven’t yet checked out but will do so & report back.

    A straw poll of my English mates gives approx 60% who want to GTFO (get the f*** out). Sad, sad, sad.

  • Ron

    Where in the States should someone from the UK move to with (say) $1m capital after selling up?


    * Climate range 30C to -5C with no hurricanes/earthquakes (ie like UK);
    * a gently conservative Christian ethos to be prevalent;
    * enough MS Windows work to keep wife and 3 small children in bread
    * town/city with low violent crime
    * variety of landscape nearby
    * natural lakes and rivers

    How does Tennessee or the Carolinas sound? My wife enjoyed the few months she lived in TN.

    OTOH, I liked the countryside in Boston/Massachusetts when I visited 15 years ago.

  • Tim Haas


    Can’t give you a specific area to try, but here’s a link to a piece I wrote last year that gives access to lots of online tools that might help you narrow things down a bit.

  • Verity

    Ron – The Texas hill country. It is sensationally beautiful, nice temperatures. Austin is the state capital, so it’s important. It’s also home of the University of Texas. Personally, I don’t like college towns, but Austin is a city big enough to absorb the students and they’re not in your face. Austin’s a bit too liberal for my tastes – as most university towns are – but Texas on the whole is a conservative state.

    You can keep guns and you can shoot to kill if you are defending your home and your life. The climate in Austin is not a killer – as it is in Houston.

    San Antonio, the fifth largest city in the US is also in Texas and very nice. Latin flavour. Even more Latin is El Paso.

    Dallas is swanky and has lots of sizzle and unlike Houston, isn’t built on swamps and bayous, so isn’t as humid. Great, well-regarded on a world scale opera company. Gets a real, although not severe, winter. Houston’s too hot and humid for you, but it has a world class ballet company. And it’s air-conditioned to the max.

    Or right down on the tip, on the Gulf of Mexico, there’s Corpus Christi. Very pretty and full of yachts.

    Don’t know what the work situation is. You’d have to find out from the CofCs – check who has HQs or important regional offices in the various cities. But Texas is a very rich state – and no state income tax! And it has the death penalty! And it’s beautiful, immense, can-do and courteous.

    I just cannot imagine a more wonderful place to live and every time I remember that I let my Green Card lapse I could gnaw off my own knuckles.

  • Jake

    For those who are interested here are the warm states in America that have low unemployment rates.

    Georgia 3.6%
    Hawaii 3.6
    Virginia 3.6
    Florida 4.6
    Nevada 4.3
    Tennessee 4.9
    Utah 4.5
    Idaho 4.4

    If you have brains and ambition come to America. We will be glad to see you.

  • Nancy

    Ron – I would rule out Boston, or any major, well – known city, if possible. The cost of housing is prohibitively expensive. Even with your million, by the time you bought a house, a couple of cars, and every single electrical appliance large and small used in a home (English models don’t work here, remember), plus your computer extravaganza, you would notice a large drop in funds. You would get much more for your money, house – wise, in Tennessee.

    You might enjoy reading “America’s Most Charming Towns and Villages”, Open Road Publishing. It lists home possibilities which are not necessarily twee or touristy, state by state, that would – be immigrants don’t immediately think of. I bought mine in a cool map shop called National Map Centre on 22 Caxton Street, SW1, 0171. 222. 2466.

    If you really can’t abide humidity, that eliminates most of the South, which is too bad. You might like someplace like Savannah, GA. It isn’t as if you have to endure it 24/7. Your home, office and all public places would be ac’d.

    Most of the States deals with weather with a capital W, at least some of the time. It’s difficult to find a place that doesn’t have the problem of either seasonal tornados, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, 90 degrees in the shade with pulverising humidity or five feet of snow half the year. The relatively few places which are truly benign in that Paradise sense of terrific weather and blue skies year round, like Santa Barbara, CA, cost a fortune to live in. I’m typing this in a dramatic lightning and thunder storm right now; in fact , I got knocked off line for a while and had to start over.

  • Verity

    Ron – Don’t be such a wimp! Jump right in! If you’re too dainty about your requirements, then in your mind, you’re not ready for America.

    Go where you can find work. That’s what Americans have been doing for 250 years. Whatever the weather where you find work, put up with it, like everyone else.

  • Ron

    Sorry Verity, certain weathers would exclude me – for example, I’m building an extension to my house at the moment and even in the English sun I get severely sunburnt on my (bald) head if I don’t wear a hat.

    I’ve been known to wake up one morning with my head stuck to the pillow, having been sunburnt the day before and all the subsequent skin-weeping dried my head to the cloth. Took about 20 mins in a shower to agonizingly dissolve it off…

  • ernest young

    Ah! Poor Ronnie …

    I’m afraid that if you haven’t got the wit to wear a hat, when you know you are liable to burn, then America is not the place for you …

    We also have snakes, spiders, roaches, bobcats, bears, and all sorts of other things that might bite. Perhaps the Applachians might suit, or how about France?

  • Verity

    Ernest Young – you are very mean to poor Ron, who is working outside building an extension on his house and didn’t think to wear a sunhat or apply sun cream. I do hope he was wearing a light cotton shirt.

    France would not be good. There are scorpions and wild boar. I suspect Ron would not be much of a scorpion wrangler. Snakes and bobcats may be a wrangle too far.

    It only ever gets up to around 68/70 in Anchorage. If Ron wants scenery, it’s all right there. And there aren’t too many grizzlies in the downtown area, except the one in the lobby of the Captain Cook hotel and he be daid.

    All the southern states are hot, hot, hot. As in drippingly, relentlessly hot, and they’re humid, too.

    To be fair, Ron, I don’t like strong sunshine either, so I do what we climatologists technically refer to as “staying inside”. This involves staying in the air-conditioned house, air-conditioned car, air-conditioned shopping malls and air-conditioned restaurants. I’ve never found it too taxing.

  • ernest young


    Well I couldn’t let my rep slide for too long!.

    Seriously, a Windows expert, who is incapable of doing a little simple research on something as major as moving home and three children 5,000 miles, Give me a break! and he expects to earn a living here? where most teens are quite capable of networking an office or solving the most intricate computer problems before dinner.

    I would wager that one of his favourite songs is “Hold my hand, I’m a strangerr in Paradise.”

    Things must be really bad in the UK, if the likes of Ron want to leave. Good grief, I moved here to get away from these ‘reality virgins’.

    Looks as though I may be on the move again, if too many ‘Rons’ get itchy feet …

  • Ron

    Ahhh – poor Ernest Young (oops sorry – “ernest young” who never learnt capital letters when writing his name) who thinks that everything he can read from the top 20 (or so) links from an Internet search is necessarily as good as personal experience, suggestions and anecdotes from real people…

    After all, why have blogs if all you need is Google? Think about it and see how weak your argument is.

    Verity – that sunburn episode was over 10 years ago, so I keep well protected these days.

  • I remember when I was running my sliderule over the US before my career took an upturn over here.

    I have to say that whilst the low taxes and excellent standard of living were all attractors, the birds were better looking as well.

    Sweden, Estonia, Finland just doesn’t compare with Audobon’s.

  • Should have added: maybe in a few years….

  • ernest young

    Ah!, poor Ron,

    You are so definitely NOT the sort who should even contemplate making a move away from the teat of welfarism that you call home.

    You are just too imbued with the idea that eveything should be done to make life easy for you, that you have almost forgotten how to think for yourself.

    You as a Windows expert assume that everyone uses Google, as a first and last resort. Wrong again, you as an expert should know that the Web has all of the information that anyone could possibly wish for, but no, that is not good enough for Ronnie, you want a ‘personal’ recommendation, or an anecdote, why – so that you have some sort of tenuous guarantee? Admit it, all you want is someone to hold your hand …

    That you jump to so many erroneous assumptions regarding myself, is also so very symptomatic of the society in which you reside.

    Also, you take yourself so very seriously, and that you simlpy cannot abide, or even recognise a little leg-pull, would indicate that you really are not ready for leaving ‘Nanny Welfare’ just yet.

    As Verity pointed out earlier, she has no sympathy for folk in the UK, her idea being that the present state of affairs is largely due to the apathy, (stupidity), of most of the electorate. It seems that you fall neatly into that category. Please don’t say you did not vote for Blair, I wouldn’t believe you…

    You want England, but without the political system that you were too apathetic, or too blind to see coming. .

    Your quote:
    Think about it and see how weak your argument is.

    What argument Ron? I made a few remarks, but no argument, do you also lack a skill in Reading Comprehension?.

    Ah!, poor Ron …

  • David Gillies

    We had the team from this show filming where I live in Costa Rica. Nice girls. Drank like fish.

    Every day I read Samizdata, and every day I read at least one article that makes me glad I jumped ship. I vowed to bolt if the Blair junta came to power, and I did.

    And all you silly buggers arguing about the weather – National Geographic did a survey a few years ago and came to the conclusion that Costa Rica has the best climate on the planet. Right now it’s nearly 10 pm and you can walk around outside in shorts and t-shirt. But it never gets blisteringly hot during the day (except at the beach). Life is good.

  • David Gillies

    Oh, and as I peruse Samizdata I am sipping (swigging, actually) a Cuba Libre made from excellent five-year-old Nicaraguan rum which cost me the princely sum of £2.50 a bottle. I pay 30p a can for the (very good) indigenous lager. A liter of Ballantine’s is £6.50. The nicotine addicts among us can buy a packet of 20 cigarettes for 60p. Prime quality fillet steak, like the one I had au poivre last night, is £6 a kilo. I pay £270 a month for a 1000 square foot apartment with 24 hour security and DSL Internet, and another 30 quid for my cleaning lady. And I’d want to still be living in England why, exactly?

  • Verity

    David Gillies – What are the requirements? I hadn’t even thought of Costa Rica!

    Ron – If your sunburn episode was 10 years ago, why are you still presenting it as a negative in moving to a hot climate?

    I don’t blame you for wanting personal generalised recommendations – as in David Gillies’s pitch for Costa Rica above – but wanting people to point you in the direction of a perfect climate [you even give the temperatures and weather conditions you are prepared to tolerate: * Climate range 30C to -5C with no hurricanes/earthquakes (ie like UK);]

    And the social set-up you want: * a gently conservative Christian ethos to be prevalent;

    You want to be assured of employment: * enough MS Windows work to keep wife and 3 small children in bread

    You specify a * town/city with low violent crime.

    At the same time, you require *variety of landscape nearby* and natural lakes and rivers.

    If you reread this thread, you will see that most of the people who responded have upped-sticks and changed countries themselves. I am in the middle of a move to change again, with less fuss than this.

    I hate to be cruel (no, really!) but I do not think you are independent enough to survive in the rough and tumble of the United States. Depending on the state you’re living in, unemployment entitlement may last as little as six weeks. After that, it’s flipping burgers or taking credit cards in a gas station for income or applying for food stamps.

    You’ll be expected to be responsible for your own health insurance (admittedly, there’s a fallback in emergencies at county hospitals, which are good, but after you’ve been treated, they will chase you for payment unless you can prove you are indigent) and you pay for visits to doctors’ offices and it’s not cheap.

    To get clients, you’ll need a pretty slick presentation, because Americans are nothing if not fiercely competitive and there will other people pitching against you who will be circling for an opportunity to eat your lunch.

    No one in the US is interested in how things are done “back home” – meaning they’re not interested in little lessons in behaviour and what you may consider a more civilised way of conducting their affairs.

    The weather can be a killer. I lived in Houston and when a tornado came through, it took out the entire power supply of a city of 3m people. The wires were not just inoperative, but they had been ripped off the poles. Can you imagine how long it took them to get us all reconnected? The temperatures were very, very humid, in the 90s. It was a nightmare. The Dallas and Ft Worth power companies sent linemen down in convoys to help, but it was a week before I was startled one day to suddenly hear the comfortable hum of my refrigerator starting up. I could have cried. We all ran out into the street jumping and whooping. During that week, the employees of Houston Lighting & Power WENT IN TO WORK in a skyscraper which didn’t have windows that opened and there was no air conditioning, but they manned the phones to reassure customers and keep us all up to date and answer emergency questions. The management, including the company president, was out on the streets working with crews.

    That, my friend, is America. The rewards can be great, but they come as a result of great effort and stick-to-it-iveness and a certain indomitable outlook.

    Maybe you should consider Sweden. Ooops! Weather too cold!

  • Dave


    Climatically the Bay Area is spot on – bad work situation now and a million goes no where for housing, plus most of my friend’s there haven’t got work.

    Texas is ecomonically great but it sounds to me like you’d find the climate hard work. I’ve only done Dallas once, a week, late in the year when it had “cooled down” to 92F.

    I’m thinking about a move to Seattle later in the year. Climate is pretty much the same as the UK, low housing costs once you’re out of the city, certainly Windows work around, and lots of Mountains, Lakes and Rivers.

  • SF Bay Guy

    So, llamas, we’re all eager to hear how it’s going???

    Ron: … even in the English sun I get severely sunburnt on my (bald) head if I don’t wear a hat. I’ve been known to wake up one morning with my head stuck to the pillow, having been sunburnt the day before …

    Three words: Seattle, Seattle, Seattle.

    Jake: If you have brains and ambition come to America. We will be glad to see you.

    Amen to that. May it forever be so.

  • llamas

    SF bay Guy wrote:

    ‘So, llamas, we’re all eager to hear how it’s going???’

    Sorry, don’t understand what your question refers to. My day is going great but somehow I don’t think that’s what you mean. Could you be more specific?



  • verity

    Well, Ron, with Dave and an incoherent SF Bay Guy pitching for it, maybe Seattle. Seattle. Seattle’s not such a great idea.

  • SF Bay Guy

    llamas, I was referring to your journey “for both economic and political reasons.” Your post left me curious for a status report: how is it going for you in the US? To what extent have you found what you were seeking when you emigrated?

    Sorry for the incoherence, I’m sleep-deprived. And my PC’s keyboard looks so soft and comforta *thunk*

  • llamas

    SF Bay Guy – understood.

    Thank you, it’s going very well on both fronts.

    Economically, me and the missus are not particularly extravagant, and we both make a very comfortable living. Apart from my excessive spending on old books and firearms, that is. We have a nice home in the country, couple of saddle horses, all the comforts of home and no debt outside a mortgage. We’re saving for old age at a pace that never ceases to amaze me, thanks to the more-sensible provisions of the US tax code. I look at my college contemporaries, for example, and the only ones who enjoy a comparable lifestyle and economic security are the ones who took the bit between the teeth and did it outside the UK – either in North America or in the Middle/Far East.

    In summery, I guess I would say that I know that I would never have been able to achieve this level of economic freedom and security doing what I do in the UK. That’s not to say that it’s not possible to achieve this in the UK – just not doing what I do at a pace that I’m prepared to maintain. Work/life balance and all that sort of thing.

    Politically, this place was tailor-made for me. The way I always sum it up, when asked, is that in the US, you can do anything that isn’t specifically forbidden. In the UK, everything is forbidden that isn’t specifically permitted. Most of the mechanisms of everyday life (both state and commercial) seem to be set up with at least a passing nod to the interests of the people. For all its flaws (and it has many) the US system, as it is lived by the people in their everyday lives, is the free-est, most-inclusive and most tolerant that I have found anywhere, and I have lived in several places besides the UK and the US.

    Lady Thatcher used to illustrate this sort of thing with everyday comparisons – things like getting a phone installed, or how hard it is to get a driver’s license. The UK, it seemed to me, was gradually stifling in a ever-thickening wrapping of mindless red-tape and conformity, and from what I read here, it hasn’t changed. The US still retains some element of common sense in many everyday matters.

    Like her, I love the everyday examples, and the one I often use concerns driving tests.

    When I took a driving test in the UK, I took it for automatic-transmission only. I don’t know if this choice is still available. I still recall with wry amusement how the test still included the dreaded Hill Start, complete with handbrake on/handbrake off and No Rolling Backwards. For a vehicle with automatic transmission, this part of the test verges on the insane, yet – there it was.

    When I came to the US, I brought a large and fast motorcycle with me. I went to get a cycle endorsement on my D/L. Test was scheduled on the same day that I went and applied. Just read that and think about it for a minute. I got the license on the same day that I walked in to apply for it. But – I found that I could not complete the ‘cones’ part of the test on that motorcycle because the fairing on the front restricted the steering lock – it was physically impossible to do.

    What do you suppose that the response would have been to such a situation in the UK? Exactly. ‘Tough luck, sir. Come back when you can pass the test.’

    In the US, it was more straightforward. ‘Looks to me, sir, as though you could certainly pass this test if you were on a cycle that could do it. I suspect that you know what you’re doing. You passed. Have a nice day.’

    The American way of life, politically/socially speaking, may not be for everyone, but it suits me down to the ground.



  • Andrew Milner

    This opinion/information exchange is most valuable. As participants are eager to pick up ideas from each other, there is far less invective and personal insult from those that never learned to disagree without being disagreeable. Same language, similar culture country advocates have a point. You can continue in your chosen profession without starting entry level by, for example, teaching English. It is estimated that by 2020, more than 12 million Brits. will be resident abroad. The criteria by which you select your new country are significant. Assuming you are a Caucasian native English speaker, you would be hard put to improve on the positive reception experienced in Japan. Even British World Cup football supporters were well received; now that is tolerance. In the ’70’s and ’80’s, working in Japan was a licence to print money. My 20 years spanned ’73-’93. Returned to UK for 10 years but it didn’t take, so back in Japan again. But not “seeking my fortune in the colonies”. One of Japan’s best-kept secrets is the cheapness of rural property. Contrary to popular belief, almost everything is somewhat cheaper in Japan compared to the UK. As most ex-pats realise, you must have the confidence and flexibility to jump in, and more than likely things will work out.
    I appreciated the information on Argentina and Costa Rica. Most people on hearing “Argentina” would think “Falklands War” and assume Bruits. would not be universally popular. I had assumed Latin America was high crime, but image often lags behind reality.
    Later this year I plan to check out Laos as a potential retirement location. Now we’re talking cheap. On the Lao stand at Expo, was told you could live in Laos for five to 10 years compared to one year in Japan, which confirms my experience. Was there last year, and it’s worth a follow-up visit. Obvious “Lonely Planet” is available for those with more than a passing interest. Anyone have any relevant input on getting into the culture?