UK readers, please tell me, why are you still there? Why haven’t you buggered off abroad yet?
I don’t want to come off as an ingrate. The UK did alright by me. I turned 18 in the late 90s, a particularly optimistic time to be a Brit. I went to university when it was not free, but significantly cheaper than it is now. I scored a job in publishing because, in those days, desirable industries didn’t expect people to intern for free for six months just to get a foot in the door (which, let’s be honest, favours only certain sections of society, i.e. mostly those who can afford to work for free because they have rich, indulgent parents who continue to support them). In my day – she said, sounding like a huffy 80-year-old – you just applied for dozens of entry-level jobs and eventually got one. And you got paid.
It wasn’t perfect, life in the UK. But (at least, as a white, hetero female fuelled by self-confidence and cheap cider), I grew up feeling there was everything to look forward to. That I could be anything I wanted. It was a privilege to grow up in that time. And I’m talking about a distinctly working class upbringing, in a council house in Portsmouth.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and the UK looks like a country on the wane. Maybe every generation feels this way, but I think my generation was the last to have it good.
I look at young Brits entering adulthood now and think, Jesus wept, get out while you’re young. Why pay £9,000 a year to study in the UK? Go to uni in Europe, where it’s cheaper (or, where it’s not cheaper, at least you’re getting an interesting life experience for your money).
I look at my youngest siblings, yet to buy their own homes, and cannot fathom finding £250,000 (or more) for just a regular fucking house in the South of England. Not a mansion. Just a little house or flat, with a postage stamp garden if you’re lucky, and neighbours practically up your nostrils.
I see friends and family hit with surging energy bills, with more price rises on the way, and their own government basically telling them, ‘Just save money by buying supermarket value brands, you dumb plebs.’
Why isn’t everyone marching on Downing Street? Or better yet, why don’t they take their hard-earned money and move to a country that doesn’t seek to openly mug off its citizens? (And I know no country is perfect. But it really does feel like the UK government is taking the piss.)
You can buy a house in the Bulgarian countryside for a very low five-figure sum – sometimes even less than that. Our fixer-upper on a quarter-acre plot cost £10,000. (Maybe double that again in renovation costs.) And it was one of the more expensive houses we viewed. For a higher five-figure sum, you can buy something positively luxurious.
Yes, you’ll need to find a way to earn money here, either working online or starting your own local business. And the language is hard. And there’s all that lovely European bureaucracy to deal with. But you’ll never have to look at Boris Johnson’s face again. Every now and then he catches me unawares, popping up on the Radio 2 headlines, and I cringe as I hear him splutter his latest bullshit. But I haven’t seen his lifeless face for years. And it’s been brilliant. You should move abroad, if only for that reason.
It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Life in the UK is free from war and persecution. It’s still a beautiful country. The sausages are good… I just feel increasingly disconnected and disheartened by my homeland. Which is pretty sad, really.
Believe it or not, I sat down to write something altogether more positive, about the wonderful benefits of moving abroad. But this is what poured out of me, in a trance-like state. Sorry about that. Anyway, it’s really quite nice abroad. You should think about it.