Saturday, 26 September 2009

Leaving Home - Some Tips

There are more people leaving the United Kingdom than at any time since the First World War, which is quite something when you think of the numbers who set off for Australia and Canada in the 1950s. Why they are going is variously explained, but can be grouped mostly under perceived poor quality of life in the UK in comparison with other advanced capitalist countries. If your fancy is a European country there are some important boxes to tick.

Have you got a job in your country of choice? If not, have they got jobs you might be able to take?

Do not try to set up a business. If there were a business opportunity, the locals will have developed it. You can buy a business particularly where there is lots of tax farming to be done.

Do not imagine that having English as your mother tongue has the slightest advantage attached to it. Every educated person in Europe under 50 can speak international English.

Indeed, do not imagine that being English has the slightest advantage attached to it. A european culture has engulfed the workplace, and people come from all over the Union.

Learn the local language. Learn the local attitude to the history of the last 100 years while you are about it. Millennia may have passed but Italians still have a decidedly imperial take on the rest of the world, for instance. And France's history of Africa is not the one you know. Nor did England win the War.

If you can, marry into your new community. If already married, send your children to the local school and ensure they do their homework and have all the correct textbooks, exercise books, rough books, pens, pencils plain and assorted, and geometry sets required.

Do not buy a house in the back of beyond. The reasons why no-one seems to have noticed the summer beauty is because they have fled the winter storms, and the timeless boredom of that timeless landscape. Live in a provincial or regional capital, as close to the centre as you can get, and drive out to the timeless countryside to stay in a hotel.

Remember the shopping hours, or you will go hungry, particularly in Germany. Shop early and shop often; it is good for your language skills and your fellows notice what you buy and how good your housekeeping skills are.

Go to church, or live in a large city, or recognise you will be classed as anti-clerical and as such, of the Left.

Do not go outside in house clothes unless you are obviously trimming or tidying just outside your boundaries. Do not wear tights or socks with sandals unless you are in Germany. Get your hair done at the hairdressers regularly or, if female, pull it back tightly into a well-formed knot.

Never ignore an official communication, and never disrespect a public official. Objections to what you consider unfair or improper are taken to the Tribunal and often set right, but there is not a do-it-yourself option.

Carefully measure social distance, and keep yours. No matter how charming, your local friends will drop everything for self and family interest, and this should not cause you resentment. Do the same.

Should you fall ill or be run over you will receive at least the same level of intervention and care as in England but you may not understand what is going on. This is no reason to assume the worst and discrimination.

Never think you can always go home. You are at home. And if you are not quite your children will be, very fast, and will not like to be taken from an excellent formal education with clear standards and admirable goals to what you ran away from in the first place. It is a mistake to believe that their first degree should not be taken at their local university (subject to you not living in the back of beyond, of course). They can do their post graduate work at Cambridge, which is much easier to enter at that level.

Do not overdraw your bank account or your credit card. Both will be removed and in many countries you will be prosecuted. This is, of course, why continental Europe is not in financial collapse.

Buy gold, along with everyone else. Never flaunt your well being, never expose your poverty.

Finally, prevent your guests from visiting the fascist bar and drinking too much grappa.


Philipa said...

No, no I WANT to live in the back of beyond. Preferably out of sight and earshot of any neighbours. My neighbours in the UK have made me pathalogically fearful of any new house within sight or sound (especially sodding sound) of neighbours. And I want big fences. Only in the back of beyond can I afford enough acreage to make it so. But as I want quiet. Peace and quiet (I dream of quiet, I looong for quiet) then that'll do nicely.

Sackerson said...

What a lot of excellent tips. Far too good to let them languish in a single post, destined to drfit further down the page as the days go by. Why not put a link to it in your sidebar?

hatfield girl said...

Last time I tried altering side bars S, I lost Angels' links list and now wander the internet like a lost soul going to interesting sites from others. You and Raedwald and Lilith are gateways of choice.

hatfield girl said...

Jolly expensive, quiet, P. Quite scary too as it comes with awfully dark. And the further you get from humans the closer you get to non humans. The hunters have shot all the boar now and, considering what they did to my garden (the boar, not the hunters) serves them right.

Philipa said...

Well HG, as I am seriously considering this I hope you will forgive me for updating the links on my sidebar straight to this excellent post. So I hope you don't remove it or archive it somewhere else.

If you want a link, folks, it's over at my place :-)

PS: I can afford the house and acreage, I'm saving up for the electric fence before I move ;-)

Botogol said...

I liked this post, HG.

Perhaps they are tips for life, not just for a foreign country.

But I am curious to know which of them you followed yourself - and which you wish you had.

hatfield girl said...

I married out of the UK, B, so Im not really a typical expat going to set up in another country - and being a woman, pace the feminists, have taken on more of my husband's life than men do of their wives' background.

Which of the heads have I tried to follow? All of them, except going to church, (which in the village is virtually compulsory from our house as it runs the length of the garden and is very loud with bells on) but with very variable degrees of success.

The small HGs went to England for their university studies and thinking it over I was too concerned that they should. I had seriously underestimated the excellence of the better universities here.

I would add keep a home in the UK to the list but many cannot afford to do that; but it is becoming quite commonplace for families to have various parts in various countries - which is all very pleasing. The failure to be in Schengen by the UK makes it difficult to travel - it really is a joy to get in your Lufthansa and travel about with no more fuss than getting the bus (albeit with leather seats). It's probably true that you do have to try and make yourself a European to get the most out of having a life on the continent too. St Pancras is a blessing.