There is much to be said for living life as an ex-pat – the sense of freedom it can give a young person or couple seeking adventure in their early twenties, the opportunity to learn a new language and explore a new culture, and a more (or less, depending upon your point of view) forgiving climate.
But when it is time to start raising a family, many ex-pats choose to return to the UK. It makes sense for several reasons; to be closer to family, to educate children in the same system as their parents, to obtain a British passport.
That said, there are some equally compelling reasons to remain abroad. Let’s look at the pros and cons of 5 of the most tempting places to live as a family abroad.
Pros: a safe-haven, with a highly-educated population that favour a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle, in Switzerland, whether you are in Geneva, Basel, Zurich or anywhere else you are never far from stunning scenery, alpine trails and lakes and mountains. The family oriented culture also means you are likely to see plenty of your children as they grow up, and play an important role in their development.
Cons: Switzerland is an expensive country and away from the financial sector, jobs are scarce, and property pricey. Although the Swiss education system is good, only about 25% of children will go on to study for a Bachelor’s degree, with many favouring vocational schemes or apprenticeships.
Pros: Denmark is renowned for its inclusive culture which ensures nobody is left out or allowed to drop out of the social system, but in recent years the country, and especially the capital, Copenhagen, has developed an entrepreneurial culture that welcomes newcomers from abroad and provides a host of exciting employment opportunities.
Cons: the Nordic countries are not cheap and the climate is not to everybody’s taste, with long, dark winters and chilly evenings.
Pros: a friendly, tolerant culture, an inexpensive lifestyle and the best climate in Europe! Spain can feel like a paradise, and there is never any shortage of activities to get involved with.
Cons: Away from the English enclaves, Spanish culture can be hard to integrate into, and the current political instability is failing to address high levels of unemployment and some corruption.
Pros: a hugely popular destination for expat Brits, the likes of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, despite the sporting rivalry, can feel like home from home, and surprise surprise, the warm weather climate is a wonderful opportunity for parents to allow their children to develop a lifelong love of sport.
Cons: Besides the sporting rivalry? Australia is a huge country and once there, you can forget about weekend city breaks in other countries. The nearest country, Indonesia, is a 4-hour flight away!
Pros: for the ambitious and hard-working, Singapore offers a life-style as good as you will find anywhere in the world, and has probably edged ahead of Hong Kong in recent years as the financial centre of Asia.
Cons: Many ex-pats based in Singapore will look to educate their children over-seas, often at British public schools, which is expensive, if rewarding. Space is at a premium and without a high salary, life in Singapore can be a struggle. The province is also governed by strict laws which may not be to everyone’s taste.
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