I’m an Expat, Get Me Out of Here!


With Xmas fast approaching, people’s thoughts turn to home, and for expats, it’s no different. Most would say that their lives have improved since leaving Britain, yet they still miss traditional British institutions such as Yorkshire puddings, Marks & Spencer and Marmite.

BUPA International, the world’s largest expat health insurer, surveyed expats from more than 35 countries about their lives abroad and gained a fascinating insight into how Brits see their homeland – and how it appears to newcomers, too.

When people from overseas were asked what they liked about the UK, they placed their new home’s weather right at the bottom of the list, with just 9 percent admitting to liking the British seasons. By contrast, and not surprisingly, 89 percent of expats who’d moved to Australia praised the weather down under. And less than half the expats now living in Britain said they enjoyed the lifestyle, compared to 90 percent of expats who gave the Spanish way of life the ‘thumbs up’.

Traditional dishes such as Bangers and Mash may tempt British taste buds, but they don’t cut the mustard when it comes to other nations’ cuisine – just 15 percent admitted to liking British culinary delights, while three quarters of those who moved to Thailand and France claimed to love the local delicacies.

In a blow to British pride, expats from all nations felt that the British people were not as likeable as the French. In fact, the British came behind the Thais, Australians, Spanish and Chinese.

Most people choose to move abroad to improve their quality of life. Sad to say, it seems you’ll have more luck achieving this if you move to Spain – 70 percent feel their life is very much better since moving there – than the UK, where only 12 percent feel they can say the same. Meanwhile, more than half the people who left the UK say their quality of life is better now they’re gone.

It might seem that expats get the best of both worlds – 71 percent of them say that they do – but not everything about living in a foreign land is easy. In fact, more than a third argued that people don’t understand how tough it is to be an expat.

One of the biggest hardships for expats was missing things from their homeland. Almost seven in ten (68 percent) long for the company of family and friends, 44 per cent dream of particular foods and a third (32 percent) yearn for TV programmes from their native country.

Expats from the UK missed a number of foods and entertainments, including: BBC’s Question Time, a decent pint of beer, crumpets, Marks & Spencer, marmite, Match of the Day, the rain, steak and kidney pies, Victoria Wood, Walkers salt and vinegar crisps and Yorkshire puddings.

Paula Covey, BUPA International’s Head of Marketing said: “Moving abroad is a huge life-changing challenge and clearly the weather and food are as big a factor as missing family and friends when looking to make the right home away from home. Our customers say that health and financial security are just as important, particularly knowing that you will be in safe hands should you fall ill or and need somewhere to turn for medical help or advice.

“Things can get complicated, particularly if you don’t understand the healthcare system or speak the language, so if you are living abroad, make sure you have the appropriate health cover. It will give you both peace of mind in your place in the sun… whatever the weather.”

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Name: Alice Lythgoe-Goldstein