Byline: Paul Arthur
There are plenty of itchy feet in the Midlands. Government figures show that between 1995 and 2004 a massive 319,700 people left the region to start a new life overseas.
Interestingly the number of people leaving the area has increased sharply from 24,000 in 1995 to 36,000 in 2004.
At the Emigration Group we prepare several thousand visa applications every year for people wanting to start afresh in Australia and New Zealand. However, by far the largest number of applications come from your patch. Already this year we have hosted two seminars in Kenilworth in Warwickshire to cater to the demand.
So why is there such interest? Why are Brits seeking a new life overseas? Why are 615,000 Brits alone living in Australia?
The overwhelming reason people give for wanting to emigrate is one seductive phrase suffused with sunshine and satisfaction - lifestyle. We see countless people who have simply become jaundiced with the densely populated high pressured nature of the UK.
Moreover there is no question that the climate and the long winter months play a huge part in turning people off Britain. More people travel and we are seeing just how the other half live.
Our experience was reflected in a recent ICM poll for the BBC which cast real light on just how many people have one eye on foreign climes. The poll revealed that more than half of Britons had considered emigrating in their lifetime. The study found Australia was the top emigration destination named by 40 per cent of respondents. New Zealand meanwhile was third most popular favoured by 22 per cent of people.
The most popular reason cited to ICM (more than a third) as the motivation for emigrating, was the search for a better quality of life. Better weather meanwhile accounted for a third and a quarter considered Britain to be too expensive. The poll found emigrating is becoming more popular with the number of people hoping to move abroad in the near future - 13 per cent - having doubled since a similar survey in 2003.
But we are finding increasingly the case for taking the plunge Down Under is being weighted by other factors besides lifestyle, notably money.
For younger people struggling to get on the property ladder, New Zealand presents a real alternative with the average house prices being pounds 105,000 compared with pounds 164,576 in the West Midlands.
Furthermore salaries are less heavily taxed in New Zealand with the average worker taking home 79 per cent of what they earn compared with 66 per cent in the UK. Fuel meanwhile costs 52p a litre compared with 85p to 90p here. And in both Australia and New Zealand there is no inheritance tax.
The thorny issue of immigration and the crowded nature of the UK is in stark contrast to Australia and New Zealand. …