Broken Britain the cause of UK expat exodus

Published:  26 Mar at 6 PM
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Broken Britain is one reason why UK nationals are rushing to move to Europe before Brexit officially kicks in.

It seems the EU referendum has sparked an increasing exodus of angry and disappointed Britons looking to create a better lifestyle for themselves and their families. Some are setting up new businesses, others have successfully applied for better jobs and others are bringing forwards their retirement to coincide with 29 March next year. Most seem happy to embrace their new communities and avoid established expat enclaves.

Vora, a 37-year old academic specialising in law is married to a journalist and has three young children. The decision to emigrate came immediately the referendum result was announced, as he believed Britain would no longer be a place for academics post-Brexit. He applied for and got a research fellowship at a German institute, leaving the UK last autumn after they’d let go their tiny, one-bedroomed London property. Nowadays they live in a spacious, historic flat in Berlin’s central district and are loving every minute of their new lives. They’re saving money on electricity and the children are in free, full-time kindergarten, although food is more expensive but of far better quality.

Another couple with a teenaged daughter made the decision to relocate to France soon after the referendum as they felt that, as Remain voters, they’d be in the minority in their home town. Liz, an accountant, is clear about the lack of stability Brexit will cause small businesses, especially those hiring European workers. After selling their house, they bought a Loire valley farmhouse with a gite, left the UK a year ago and are now running the gite as a triathlon holiday hub. They’re both happy their daughter is now part of a multicultural environment including teenagers for the Netherlands as well as locals.

A third couple moved from London to Alicante nine moths ago and are busily learning Spanish as they feel it’s the respectful thing to do. Previously in marketing, the couple see the value of mixing with the Spanish community in addition to finding friends within the expat community. They believe Brexit was the trigger which advanced their half-formed plans to emigrate and start again overseas. Almost by accident, they’ve now started a property management company aimed at expats with holiday villas to let, and they’ve now 10 villas on their books.

Alan and his wife Julie weren’t so lucky, as they’d arranged completion of the sale of their British home for the day following the referendum. The money was to be transferred to Portugal to fund their retirement, but the pound crashed immediately after the referendum result, losing them £50,000 overnight. Even worse, the owner of the house they’d decided to buy upped the price once he found out they were Brits, meaning they couldn’t complete on the purchase. Their Portuguese agent found them two schist stone properties in a stunning location, but renovation costs have forced them to set up in the B&B business. Everything is fine now, and Alan’s understandable stress is now old news.
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