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A Survey of British expats reveals that fewer of them plan on returning to the UK

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My anecdotal evidence turns out to mesh with the overall trend in that more and more British expats are planning on staying on indefinitely in their new homes instead of returning to the UK at some point. This article revealing the results of a survey done by Lloyds bank seems to fit with what I’m hearing from my UK friends here in Turkey.

It’s an interesting concept to think about. You could break expats into two major categories, with one being those who’ve moved abroad for career reasons with the expectation that they’ll return to their home county some day, hopefully much better for the experience. And the other group would be people who move somewhere else because they prefer the lifestyle there and intend to stay there forever, or at least until further notice.

So this survey shows a shift from the first group towards the second group, with a fairly significant number of people having decided that they are better off in their new home compared to the United Kingdom. The article mentions the sluggish British economy, the austerity programs, and even the August riots as reasons more are considering staying put.

Overall shift to new markets

My own guess is that one driver in this change in attitude is that it’s becoming more clear every week that the Western economies are in no way on the verge of a big turnaround. When the recession hit in late 2008 it was easy to imagine that after a year or two of retraction the economies of Europe and North America would pick right up where they left off, but that isn’t happening and things might be getting worse, in fact.

I recently wrote about the phenomenon of potential expats thinking about moving to Asia because they thought it would be easier to get a job in Hong Kong, Beijing, or Singapore, but that some of these people are bound to be disappointed because they’d be giving up a lot back home for a place they were uncertain of. Well, it seems that more people feel they just don’t have the choice to move back home, at least to the UK, so they are making the best of their newly adopted countries.

It’s also true that job growth and standards of living look better in Asia’s large cities than in Europe, even if none of them are doing as well as we might hope. Perhaps sadly, some people are probably just realizing that even if they don’t care much for their new home, things would be worse if they went back to their home country.

The weather is a factor for sure

Living here in Kas, Turkey and hanging out with dozens of UK expats, I know very few who ever plan on going back to the UK for more than a few weeks at a time. Not only is everything double or triple the price there, but the weather is worse almost every week of the year. This isn’t a phenomenon that applies to most people from the United States or certainly not Australia, but it seems that if you grow up in England then there’s a good chance you’ll realize that enough is enough with the gloomy weather.

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