AFTER THE BREXIT SHOCK, more and more Brits are looking to move away from the UK. I don’t blame them. I’m going to start by saying that it wasn’t always like this. About 10 years ago, when I came to study in Manchester, Britain was a different place.
But this was short lived because I arrived in the UK during a dark time for Romanians and Bulgarians who just joined the EU. It wasn’t all bells and whistles, because it took me jumping through a lot of hoops to be able to obtain what back then was called a Yellow Card.
This didn’t stop me, though — I persevered until I got accepted. I went above and beyond to integrate myself. I even learned the slang, so I feel one of “them.”
Throughout the years, I lived a relatively calm and happy life. I had my ups, my downs, no money whatsoever, but good friends and great prospects. In the end, I left my job at Apple, moved to Bristol, got a new job with a digital startup and met my future husband. We formed our own company, we started traveling the world, we became British citizens, we got married, and here we are.
But something, somewhere, went wrong… thus, we decided to leave the UK.
Why we chose to move away from the UK
So what went wrong? I think after a decade of living in the UK, certain things started changing a bit too much and got to us. We are what a Brit would call “middle-class young professionals”. We are a newly married couple with no children, heavily focused on work. We own a digital studio which enables us to be location independent, work long hours and pay taxes in the UK. We loved it. But you know what we also love? Traveling. Good food. Sunshine. Safety. All of which are either impossible, are becoming obsolete or prohibitively expensive in the UK. Let me explain.
There are a lot of benefits of having so much rain in the UK. Rain makes this country a green heaven, which is ideal for keeping those beautiful rolling hills everyone loves. There is just one catch. It always rains. Which means an average British person has a wardrobe full of Autumn clothing and about 10 different types of wellies. As much as we once liked the rain, it eventually got to us. It took 10 years for this to happen. TEN YEARS! That’s a decade of rain. We’ve been eating vitamin D and Magnesium to keep afloat, but it comes a time when you are literally on the verge of depression because of lack of sunshine. In fact, when I go on holiday and get off the plane in a sunny destination, I feel like some vampire mole.
The UK is not a cheap country. Rent prices are high, and when you add utilities, internet, council tax and all the rest, you end up with most of your salary gone. If you are not careful, it can be a cruel existence whereby you work to live and you live to work.
In reality, it’s hard to justify spending £50 for dinner for two, instead of buying food for 3 days with the same amount of money. It’s difficult to understand why a cold house with zero insulation in the outskirts of Bristol costs £1000 when a fantastic apartment in the centre of Lisbon is half the price.
Traveling is not cheap in the UK either. I still remember wanting to go from Bristol to London and prices being close to £150 for a return train ticket.
When I first came to the country, I said to my British friend. “I love the British culture.” His reply was: “What British culture?”
The great things about Britain, are the sheer amount of bright minds this country had along its history. There are myriad inventors, writers, rock stars, scientists… But the more you integrate, the more you see the issues too. The drinking culture in Britain seems to outshine the science scene. Theatres are far too expensive for the ordinary worker, but the pints are accessible still, even for the minimum wage. With so much rain and cold stone houses, what is one to do after work, but to pour their misery in a glass of ale and half mumble about their too demanding job and bad living conditions.
The culture in Britain has moved from brilliant to that of hate, racism and ignorance. The great educated gentleman is obsolete and the fine lady is on a verge of collapse.
The core of the British kitchen is the oven, as you might already know from the Great British Bake Off. With sadness I must say, the British cuisine is unremarkable. In fact, let me tell you about the art of British food. We have pies (a variety of them), we have the mighty Sunday dinner, the toad in the hole, the stew, sausages and mash, fish and chips. Sorry, have I forgotten something? I think not!
Don’t despair, though, Britain is a great capitalist country, which means you can purchase anything your heart desires from the supermarket.
The internet was flooded with articles about where should the Brits move now that the Brexit happened.
There are few things which surfaced with this whole Brexit situation. We learned that the vast majority of people in this country is racist. Politicians are liars and are now trying to get rid of the Human Rights. The great British government passed “the most extreme surveillance law in the history of western democracy” (to quote Snowden).
The most heartbreaking part is the attitude towards immigrants which Britain seems to have adopted.
After the Brexit vote, people started attacking immigrants, and even immigrant looking Brits. Sadly, the internet is full of these instances and what is even sadder is that we (although both British) felt the effects of this.
This brings me to the last point, which is safety. I used to feel safe in the UK, but for a while now, I am afraid to go around at night. I’m not too sure why, as Bristol is a relatively safe city and I live in a decent neighborhood in the suburbs. But in reality, I stopped feeling safe in the UK a few months ago, when people started assaulting immigrants in the street. From Downton Abbey, the UK became more of a Harry Brown.
But don’t just take my word for it. According to the Global Peace Index, the UK is the 47th safest country in the world (and the 26th in Europe), well below Romania, Hungary, and Botswana.
Will we ever come back to the UK?
We were both European expats who came here to study. We adapted, changed and integrated into the British society. We both naturalized to become British citizens and pledged our alliance to Her Majesty the Queen. We are both honest people, law abiding citizens who pay taxes as individuals and as a company. Our businesses will continue to be UK based and we will continue to pay taxes here.
Will we ever come back? We don’t know.
For now, we made the decision to buy a one-way ticket and see what happens.
Someone asked me when I told them we are moving: “What will you miss most about the UK?”
My answer was: “Scotland!”
This article was originally posted on You Could Travel