21st century changes to the expat demographic

Published:  6 Jun at 6 PM
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Nowadays, expats come in many guises, from those relocating overseas to work through modern-day backpackers to single women, retirees, adventure seekers and even digital nomads.

In the days way back when, expatriates were sent abroad to work in a similar manner to when Britain ruled the waves as a colonial power. Very few people actually decided to get up and go where their fancy took them. Nowadays, it’s very different, with the trend set up decades ago having developed into a lifestyle choice for millions of people of all persuasions.

Affordable air travel was the spur, with holidaymakers deserting British beaches for Mediterranean weather, food and fun and deciding after retirement to make the move permanent. The ‘60s travel trend sent hordes of truth-seekers to India and Asia, many of whom never came back as they’d immersed themselves in a totally different lifestyle.

As the modern industrial age ramped up its speed and oceans of oil were discovered under desert sands and the ocean, specialists in the field flocked to the Gulf states and the USA, encouraged by high salaries and perks galore. Many people took off in the opposite direction, setting up in third-world countries in an attempt to get back to nature.

In 2016, whatever the reasons for leaving one’s home country on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, the entire planet is considered home for expats of one type or another. It’s a tribal thing, with like attracting like and forming communities wherever is most suitable. In this internet age, it’s easy to keep in touch with those left behind, and even easier to lose oneself halfway across the world.

As with everything else, the internet offers surveys as to the best places to go and what to do once you get there. For example, digital nomads are advised to head to Amsterdam, whilst lone females can head almost anywhere, with the possible exception of strongly fundamentalist Islamic nations. Romantically-inclined expats are happiest in glorious, preferably beach and mountainside, scenery and adventure-seekers have a huge choice of African or Asian destinations. Families are advised to stick to first-world countries in the Americas and Europe with adequate medical facilities as well as bi-lingual schools.

Retirees make up a large proportion of permanent expats, with Mediterranean countries all-time favourites, and Asian haunts are known to attract the more adventurous as well as those on smaller pensions. Obviously, the weather plays a big part in selecting retirement havens for UK citizens used to endless rain and very short summers.
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