Sunseeking expats 'less happy' than Brits at home

Expats less happy than stay-at-home BritsPic: Getty

With our high cost of living and unpredictable weather, it is little wonder that thousands of Brits each year take the momentous decision to move to warmer climes. But according to the latest research, a life in the sun may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Researchers from the University of Leicester, who polled migrants from across Northern Europe and found that those who moved to the Med were less happy than those who stayed put.

Some 256 expats from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and 73 from the UK, all of whom had made the move to either Spain, Portugal, Greece or Cyprus, were asked to rate their level of happiness on a scale of one to 10.

While the migrants scored a reasonable average of 7.3, the 56,000 folk who stayed at home just pipped them in the contentment stakes with an average of 7.5. And the gap between expat Brits and their stay-at-home counterparts was higher, with those in the UK four per cent happier than the Brits abroad.

Factors such as age, health, income, education, employment and religious beliefs were taken into account so as not to skew the results.

Though migrants often had the advantage of higher incomes in their new homes abroad, researchers suggested that the disruption of social ties could leave many less satisfied than they imagined when they swapped Britain for a life in the sun.

In his paper, due to be presented at the British Sociological Association's annual conference today, lead researcher Dr David Bartram wrote: "Migration itself can be disruptive to other dimensions of people's lives - social ties, sense of belonging - possibly with consequences for their happiness.

"Perhaps any positive subjective consequences were outweighed by negative consequences arising from the more general disruptive effects of international migration on one's life."

Are you a British expat? Is life in the sun heaven for you, or have you found it's not what you dreamed of? Leave your comments below...