Whether ex-pat or immigrant, there is no need for criticism

Dubai Marina. Many Britons have moved to the Middle East to pursue their careers.Picture: PA

Dubai Marina. Many Britons have moved to the Middle East to pursue their careers.Picture: PA - Credit: PA

One in 10 jobseekers looking for a new start on a recruitment website is looking for a job abroad.

USA, France and the UAE (45 degrees today and so stickily humid a walk along the street demands a shirt change) are top of the list as more Britons want to relocate. Canada and Ireland are the next most desirable destinations for Britons, with Australia, Germany and South Africa closely behind.

The grass is always greener, the summers drier, the sun shines and life is more interesting.

These job searchers on Indeed aren't the grouchy whiners who kick the photocopier every Monday lamenting their miserable 9-5 grind, threatening to pack it all in but never have the gumption.

These people are serious about uprooting to seek new challenges overseas, transplanting their family life far away to widen their cultural and language experience and seek adventure.


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Good on them for having the get up and go. Power to their spirit of adventure, their willingness to embrace change and step into the unknown. It takes courage and grit to trade the familiar and comfortable to start again, to build a new friendship group and life in a strange place.

But moving abroad is too often viewed as a negative judgment about Britain; voting with their feet to get out, running away and a desertion of their homeland rather than the positive step of self-improvement, financial gain and enrichment it really is.

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So what if they're desperate to get away and taste something new? I used to believe jealousy and resentment was behind the sneers at those with the ambition and guts to look outward into the world for a different way and new experiences.

But it's more an anger – a perceived criticism even – that emigrating is a judgment on the people and country left behind; that they think they are unambitious and just not good enough. Most of us are content cocooned in our groundhog day life, remaining in one town, even with one employer throughout a working life and have no reason, at the end of a more than 40-year career, to regret anything.

Horses for courses. They are congratulated for their loyalty and staying power.

But there are rarely pats on backs for the flighty colleague who announces they're off to Seattle for an exciting new role or moving the family to New Zealand for a more outdoor laid-back life.

Abroad, they are called ex-pats, not immigrants, nor economic migrants like the people who take their places here, and largely welcomed as host countries recognise their desire to boost their career while indulging a love of travel.

It's not the day to focus on immigration, but we don't view the more than four million Brits living overseas like the people arriving in Britain doing exactly what they are hoping to do: build careers and new lives in another country. And we forget that many come back after a few years, with new skills, confidence and invaluable experience of life another way. And it works the other way too.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 323,000 Britons emigrated overseas in 2014 and the number increases every year.

We need to stop viewing this as negative, a brain drain and a condemnation that Britain is going to the dogs, just like we need to stop viewing those from overseas who come to take their place here, sharing their motives, as some sort of invaders. For how can people having the confidence to look outside their comfort zone and follow their dreams be a bad thing?

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