Byline: By Joanne Parkinson
Many people dream of a new life abroad and it seems people from the North East are most likely to make this dream a reality and flee the country. Joanne Parkinson reports
We've all daydreamed about starting a new life in the sun or making a fresh start in a far-away place but, according to research, one in five or 20% of migration inquiries are from the North East. That is almost double the number in the North West and almost triple the number in the South.
The research from currency specialist HIFX may leave some people scratching their heads as to why anyone would want to abscond from the North, but marketing director Mark Bodega thinks factors such as a new job or career, and escaping the dire British weather come into play when considering a big move.
He says: "Australia is facing a shortage of home-grown skilled workers, so the Australian Master Builders' Association has called for an increase in skilled migrants. Our figures show the builders from the North East in particular seem to have heard the calls from Australia's construction industry."
Teachers Sally and John Sexton have bucked the expatriate trend and now live in Whitley Bay after spending years travelling the world.
The couple have a six-year-old daughter, Megan, and decided to settle back in the North East so she could take advantage of the excellent primary school system.
Says Sally, 38: "We met in 1989 in Vienna and before that I'd lived and worked in an international school in Norway.
"We both had a love of travelling and spent some years in Colombia and Malawi teaching before we decided to return to the North East.
"When you have children your priorities change, and once back in England it becomes easy to get settled. We got on the property ladder and both got good jobs in North Tyneside."
And John, 44, who is headteacher at Monkseaton High, agrees. "We're happy here for the foreseeable future. Travelling is adventurous, but it's not all sunsets and margaritas. Living in a foreign country requires patience, tolerance and compromise."
Sally, a part-time teacher at Apple Tree Gardens First School, says it is also comforting to be near family and so close to beautiful open countryside.
"We've met some lovely people up here and couldn't have settled here without the love and support from our family.
She adds: "Living where we do means we have the coast on our doorstep, rolling countryside a stone's throw away but all the perks of the city just a Metro journey away."
But the couple say they have not ruled out travel in the distant future and would maybe look to the Continent for their next escapade.
Jobs and fresh opportunities were on Derek and Barbara Armstrong's minds when they emigrated to Australia in 1972.
The couple, both 64, back in Newcastle to celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary, used to live in Hexham but decided to take a leap into the unknown and move to the other side of the world.
Derek explains: "I was a fitter at steelworks BHP and we'd heard redundancies were on the cards. I'd not been there long and it was bound to be first in, first out so I took the plunge and applied for a couple of jobs as a fitter in Australia.
"Jobs in the North East were on the decline and I wanted my children to grow up with a better quality of life and more opportunities."
The couple now live near Adelaide and they have a son Derek, 38, and daughter Debra, 36.
As they tour the North East on their holiday, Barbara said: "Our feet haven't touched the ground since we came back. We've so many people to catch up with ( it's wonderful.
"We're really enjoying being back in the area but to relax and mark our anniversary we're going to the island of Penang in Malaysia for a treat."
Derek and Barbara would not consider moving back to the area. …