Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Advice to emigrating Democrats

I've read several stories now that the enquiries into emigrating to Canada and New Zealand have rocketed since the election. I haven't seen it, but I doubt the UK is ina different boat. After all - the nice thing about Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK is that you don't have to worry (much) about the lingo.

For anyone interested though in emigrating to the UK however, here are a few eminently practical issues to think about before you decide to hop.

First - most of the UK is geographically really quite northerly compared to most of the US (major exception: Alaska). This means longer winter nights. This is important. Even some people who move from southern/middle England find the longer winter nights in Scotland troublesome.

Second - weather. Thanks to the wonders of the Gulf Stream we have far milder winters however than is the norm in the US. However, are summers are distinctly colder and more variable. And one thing that we nearly always have plenty of is rain. Sometimes it will rain for days and days, on and off. The sky will remain overcast for a week. And that's just normal weather. This is especially true in the western half of the island.

Third - fuel prices and VAT. The current price of petrol in the UK is 84p/litre. This is close to roughly $6/gallon. In addition, a quick and dirty price guide is that if you replace the $ symbol with a £ sign you will work out how much things cost in the UK - a 17.5% sales tax does wondrous damange to your bank balance.

Fourth - language. We all speak english, but in this case the similarities are even more perilous. And there is a certain hand gesture you need to get the hang of rather quickly. And other little things. There are other things that I am sure would shout to you that we are a different place. It's not like home. This is especially true if you deign to move outside of London.

Fifth - the NHS. Sounds great in theory doesn't it? See if you think its so great when you've been waiting for a basic, uncomplicated, cataract op for a year. You could go private, except for the taxes (and yes - I know several people who have been in this situation, and have been more than half-blind before its their turn).

Just a few things to bear in mind, but if you still want to come, feel welcome. The more the merrier.

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