It’s interesting just how often this comes forward as a justification when people are explaining why they are considering moving. Let’s be blunt, the weather in the UK can be downright miserable and depressing for much of the year. It’s a fair bit better in southern parts of the country than northern but as an island that seems to catch all of the North Atlantic squalls, it’s usually somewhere that it’s nice to escape from to get some sun. In fact, medical science is constantly upgrading its estimation of the negative health effects of living in damp and cold climates – particularly on the respiratory system. Just as soon as you cross the English Channel, things seem to get immediately better in that respect. It’s amazing just how much living in a better climate changes your outlook on life. Some of that is psychological, you are just typically happier, though some of it is also very physical and you may see an immediate improvement in aspects of your health. True, not all expats head for the sun and it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing if you go somewhere where it is ‘scorchingly’ hot for several months of the year. On the whole though, the weather is going to be a big driver for many and a real benefit.
The United Kingdom is an exceptionally crowded island and in the south, one of the more crowded places on earth. Many psychologists argue that human beings are not at their psychological best when they are jammed together in overcrowded conditions such as railways, cramped housing accommodation, congested roads and teeming shops. It’s a fact of life that many other countries have vast amounts more space than is the norm in the UK and the sheer attractions of being able to drive anywhere relatively easily, use un-crowded public transport and have a decent-sized property and garden, are all very real.
The pace of life and associated social and economic stresses in the UK are regularly stated as being amongst the highest in the world. Many other countries have no real equivalent to those stresses and it can be beneficial to get away from them and their impact on your lifestyle. More time with the family, less pressure and expectation, a friendlier and more easy-going society to live in (due to reduced stress) are all very real benefits in this area.
This is perhaps one area where potential expats need to be a little careful. Up until the latter 20th century, many other European countries had costs of living that were massively below those in the United Kingdom. That has certainly changed and today’s comparisons are by no means as clear cut in the case of many western European nations such as France, Germany and Italy. It is true that property and land continues to be much cheaper almost anywhere than in the UK but some cost of living indices show that other prices are broadly comparable. It is typically still possible to reduce your dependency on high incomes and the associated stress by looking at the right country. Prices may be considerably cheaper than you are familiar with and that might make a big difference to your lifestyle, peace of mind if on a limited or fixed income. However, don’t lose sight of the need for a realistic income once you’re overseas.
This is a very big benefit cited by many expats. Whatever your political views, there is little doubt that the stresses of life in the UK have led to real pressure on its social structures. Many expats find that their new country and environment is simply friendlier, less aggressive and more supportive of what might be called common-sense family values, than the society they have left behind in the UK. In many areas crime rates are significantly below those of the UK and that can also make a real difference to your state of mind and the way you live your life. However, not everywhere outside of the UK is a paradise so before moving overseas, do your research and make the right destination choice.