Revealed: Why Brits are Moving Abroad

We can all speculate until the cows come home about why one Briton leaves the UK every 3 minutes and why at least 5.5 million Brits are already living abroad, but at Shelter Offshore we decided we needed to delve a little deeper into this interesting and seemingly growing phenomenon.

As there has been a significant rise in the numbers of retirees relocating overseas, we decided to look closely at this specific demographic to determine what it is that is driving them from British shores.  In this article we can reveal the facts and statistics behind this mass exodus, and we will show you why Britain’s retirees are moving abroad in ever greater numbers.

At the beginning of the month (July 2008) the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published what is quite possibly the most comprehensive breakdown of what the average Briton needs to earn to live a decent standard of living in the UK.  The report was compiled based on the opinions of ‘ordinary’ people who actually live day-to-day in the UK and who were asked to breakdown carefully that which they require to live a basic but decent standard of living. 

The findings are controversial to say the very least – because it has been determined that the average British couple living in retirement needs at least £201.49 a week to survive.  This figure does not include housing and it means that the basic state pension falls far short for British retirees to achieve a decent but basic standard of living in the UK.  This fact is heavily endorsed by Age Concern who have statistics to prove that almost 2 million older Britons are actually living in poverty.

When asked to try and survive on the basic state pension for a week in an experiment designed by the insurance firm AXA, UK pre-retiree adults who took part overspent by 158% despite trying their absolute hardest to stay on track and budget hard.  The experiment also surveyed respondents to determine how they thought they would survive financially in retirement, a shockingly high 74% of those questioned stated that they believed they would still be requiring credit when they retired. 
These affordability factors are absolutely the foundations upon which a mounting sense of despair is growing in Britain among retirees.  And those likely to be feeling the despair most are those just on the cusp of retirement because they may well have left it too late to get out.  As the property market falters, the stock market flounders and the UK teeters precariously on the brink of recession, those who are about to retire and who were hoping perhaps to release equity in their property, sell a business or take an income from investments may well be wondering what on earth happened.  Homes are not selling, as proved by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors who say that they’ve not seen so few sales since monthly reports began back in 1978.  Added to this fact, businesses are not selling and UK stocks are flirting with bear market lows.

And as if all of these fiscal woes were not enough reasons to support the ever increasing numbers of Britons seeking a better life abroad, we would like you to factor in the following: -

• Britain came a lowly 37th out of 191 countries in a survey about quality of life as compiled by International Living magazine and based on factors such as cost of living, culture and leisure, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety, and climate.

• According to Robert Whelan, Deputy Director of the Civitas think tank who was quoted in the Daily Mail: - “people are emigrating because of a sense of hopelessness about the problems here.  They see us going round and round in circles but nothing is ever done about the big problems like education, health care and crime.  There is a growing sense that politicians will never deal with the problems.  There is a lot of talk, then people pay more tax and get less back for it.”

• Analysis of Home Office crime figures by the Guardian reveals that only 9.7% of ‘serious woundings’, including stabbings, that are reported to the police result in a conviction, the figure is 8.9% for robberies and 5.5% for rape.

• The Institute of Public Policy Research has evidence to suggest that 27% of British teenagers are regularly drunk, added to this is a claim that 44% of British teenagers have been involved in a fight in the last year.

• According to the BBC, by 2050 the UK will be paying out £6.5 billion in benefits and £1.3 billion in healthcare costs to UK pensioners overseas.

Is it really any wonder that Britons are moving abroad?  Is it really any wonder that British retirees feel compelled to leave?  Is it really any wonder that right now, as Britain is facing an incredibly bleak future for at least the short term that many international destinations seem so much more appealing?  We honestly don’t think so.

Is the grass truly greener on the other side of the fence or are Britons simply dreaming and fantasising that they can have a better life abroad?  To find the answers to these questions it’s time to speak to the expats who have already made the move abroad, and that’s exactly what the NatWest International Personal Banking division did in conjunction with the Centre for Future Studies when they surveyed British expatriates across the world and compiled the findings in their Quality of Life Report which shows that: -

87% of expats say their life abroad is better than expected
91% are happier than they were in the UK
90% are financially better off
68% consider themselves healthier
81% have a greater sense of wellbeing
92% feel they have a better quality of life abroad
63% do not plan to return to UK shores, feeling more ‘at home abroad’
99% said they have no regrets about emigrating
20% said their sense of being British has diminished since moving overseas
43% is the percentage pay rise the average professional Briton can enjoy overseas
And finally, according to the overall findings of this comprehensive survey, the number of people who will retire abroad is likely to rise to 1.8 million in 2025 and 3.3 million by 2050.

We believe all of the above facts speak for themselves – very loudly and vociferously in fact.  And we also believe that if Britain doesn’t change then the pattern of emigration with not alter, it really is as simple as that.

Shelter Off Shore
21st July 2008