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Up for Sale
I've come to this thread late (not had chance to visit the forum for a few days) and I've been engrossed by it. It's fascinating to read the whys and wherefores of emigrating. I've never considered emigrating. I'm sure this was partly influenced by the effect ny grandmother's brother's emigration had on my grandmother. He took their mother with his family to New Zealand and my grandmother never saw her again. This was pre telephones in every house and cheap flights. To see my grandmother's eyes fill with tears when my great-grandmother sent me a hand-knitted cardigan from New Zealand with a few of her white hairs caught in the wool (she'd had to hold it so close because of failing eyesight) made me realise how hard emigration can be on those left behind.

My grandmother never blamed her brother for emigrating. He could not settle after returning from the war and had a much better standard of living in NZ. But his departure meant all the relatives from grandma's side of the family were living the far side of the globe. They had been a very close family and grandma never got over the loss.

Nowadays it's all much easier. I have a school friend who emigrated to the US. Thanks to cheap phone deals and the internet, she can easily keep in touch with friends and family and there are visits pretty much annually in one direction or the other. Whether she'll be as happy now her children are getting to the age where money is needed for college fees is another matter!
Leaving is pretty hard on the ones that go too.They too make a big sacrifice to go where work calls and find themselves having to bring up families without any support from relatives and friends -apart from the financial loss and having to start from scratch again.It's especially hard on the wives who have to follow their husbands.No aunts and uncles or grandparents to baby sit or help out in sickness.
Some do well after starting again but others struggle to get on their feet in a different environment.It takes years.However it makes for a spirit of independence and a determination to tackle challenges, I think.No one else can help.Sadly there is no way of soothing any hurt for those that are left behind.It's never easy.
When we first went to NZ in 1958 there was no TV for several years -few houses had phones, mail from UK went by sea -it could take up to two months.Goods were limited in range,expensive and came from abroad.Food however was cheap and healthy.We had no washing machine or fridge for 4 years -in a hot climate that was hard.
One of the first things I did was buy a treadle sewing machine and made the kids clothes and my own -not very well.We all preserved and jammed in season.Loans for housing were not considered until you had been in the country for three years and even then you had to have a good job and almost swear that there would be no more babies on the way.
The country has changed enormously in the years I was there.
Now Auckland is rapidly becoming predominantly Asian with so many of Chinese descent settling there and also in Christchurch .Walk down Queen Streetin the central city and mostly you see young people from China,Hong Kong ,Korea ,Malaysia,Indonesia among others who are students.
Education in NZ is cheaper and more accessible than in their own countries.
Many drive expensive cars and flaunt their wealth in front of the Kiwi students.Some have little except their fees and living expenses paid by their families at home.
I know because I used to teach them that many Asian students as young as 12 go to New Zealand on their own for an education -many live with host families ,sometimes their own nationality -some times Kiwi.But they mostly think it's worth while.Generally they go home for a visit at the end of the school year.
Lately however there have been many older retired Chinese who have come into the country to settle -they have their own pensions and live in houses for the most part close to each other.Some are magnificent -in areas like Howick.Having a certain amount of money is one criterion for entry to the country.
When I was doing my family history I came across many instances of ancestors who had gone to the States from places like Blackpool.Often I found copies of letters that had been written to their families back home -full of mixed feelings and memories.
Nothing changes.
In the 1830's or thereabouts migration in Britain was taking place on a huge scale.
My side of the family started in Bedfordshire and came via London to Preston -work was the reason.A fresh start in what was then a thriving area.All that changed.
Sorry I ramble on -but those are a few of my thoughts and I've tried to look at both angles.
Lady G you are so right.I think my only regret about leaving was why I did it. I decided to run away from my problems not face them. I thought being a distance away would solve everything. It didn't. I also thought that being in another country I would not have those problems. That was silly of me. I had also had a major operation just three months before I left. When I spoke to a doctor in the US a few years later he told me that you should never make a big decision in your life till at least 2 years after the operation. Leaving is hard on the people you leave behind but like you said it can be much harder on the one that leaves. You remined me of those times when family means everything. Christmas, birthdays, Easter. My children used to say how was it that when all the other families in the neighbourhood had relatives visiting and we didnt. Phone calls were so expensive and we did not have the extra money for those. I use to envy my family when they had Christmas together or a wedding took place or the birth of a child. When the children were sick there was no one to help and we rarely went out because we could not afford babysitters. But having said all that I truly believe that it was what fate had in store for me and that it was all for a purpose. I was unhappy for the first couple of years but once I decided to make the best of it things settled down and I just put it to the back of my mind and got on with life. I kept myself busy working for our local church and working in my garden. I love to read and embroider and the internet keeps me out of trouble. Its amazing how much comfort you can get from a computer. I can watch shows that I use to think I would die without now I can take them or leave them.
I have to say how strange it is when a friend gets ill I forget that they are much older. I spoke to a good friend today on the phone and she was telling me how her husband is wheelchair bound. I remember the last time I saw him he
was over 6ft tall and a very active person. Now he can hardly talk. Or when someone dies it's the young person you see dying not the old person.
I must say that on reading everyone's entry has really been truly interesting. I think I am a stronger person because of what I have been through so I will be fine when I come home. Just another chapter in the story.

Originally posted by audpluswesties

It isn't "rambling on" Lady G - not to me anyway and I suspect most others too. I've been really interested in all this and fascinated by all we keep learning from the various experiences.

I completely agree with Audrey, 'rambling on' is not an acceptable term. I learned a lot from that post. I have been under the impression that N.Z. and Australia were very strict concerning the immigration of Asian's. That only very well qualified professional personnel were allowed to immigrate into those countries. Apparently not ??
I have no qualms with the legal immigration of anyone. I know some really wonderful Asian people here in our community, working at the golf course, one meets the whole spectrum of nationalities, and believe me, America really is 'the melting pot' We can all live together, in harmony, provided we, all of us, respect the way of life, and the traditions of those around us.
No, you weren't "rambling on". I for one read, and reread your post.
It was absorbing....ramble on Lady G.
We emigrated in the middle sixties. It wans't so much a fleeing of accumulated responsibilites, but getting away from the oppressive policies of the Labour Gonvernment under Harold Wilson that stifled any prospect of personal growth.

In my own circumstances, I had gone to work for a company in Coventry, after Wilson's government cancelled the TSR-2. Less than two years later he imposed a wages freeze, without prices or taxes being frozen. I think my salary was 1250 pounds a year and we bought a Wimpey bugalow for 3,800 pounds. With rapidly increasing prices and taxes, the only way to improve your lot was to change companies, which I did. I managed a to get an additional 250 a year. Unfortunately, the cost of relocating from Kenilworth to the outskirts of Wolverhampton wiped out the meager improvement in salary. Later, my employer shut up shop in the Midlands and moved to Wiltshire. I was gone by then.

About the time we relocated, Boeing came calling. We had friends who had moved there, and they had suggested the contact. Boeing offered three times the salary in a region with twice the cost of living, plus they took care of all the immigration stuff and moved our belongings. I found out later that US hires got 25 percent more than I did, but it was still a hell of an improvement. Finally, there was enough power to climb rather than slowly descend. Unfortunately we were stuck with a house in Coven that took almost a year to sell, and we had to keep up the mortgage payments.

Over the following years, Boeing was fairly generous to me, despite laying me off in 1971. I eventually did a total of 28 years on staff and another 2 years on a personal consultant contract, essentially continuing my old job after I took early retirement.

Folowing the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, all the consulting contracts were terminated and over the next two years we watched our retirement savings, which we had banked on for about 60 percent of our post-retirement income, fall in value by almost 75 percent. That's why I'm a part-time bus driver.

Repatriation is always a consideration. We have fewer and fewer relatives in the UK as time passes - one direct aunt on my side (my dad's sister), one on my wife's side (her mother's sister) and one brother and sister on my side.

We're very apprehensive about the cost of medical care in this country. I had cause to visit the local hospital's emergency room a couple of weeks ago when a branch I was pruning hit me in the head as it came down. It was about 3 pm on a Friday, and our GP was already gone for the weekend. I went to the ER. They gave me a tetanus shot, put a sticking plaster on the wound with a bit of antibiotic ointment on it. Cost $450, covered by insurance $195 (subject to deductible for the year starting July 1st) - cost to me $255.

About the only thing that will cause us to repatriate will be catastrophic medical problems. In the US, that can result in personal bankruptcy, serious depletion of your children's net worth and long term care from the government system.

There's a saying here - "Be good to your children, for they will choose your nursing home". What isn't immediately evident is that they will probably end up paying for it.

We're stable for the moment, not having to hit the savings too frequently. I worry about what happens when I go off Boeing retiree medical insurance and onto Medicare, and even more when we're both on that system.

Our home, which we bought for $185,000 five years ago, is now worth about $350,000. That means our property taxes (the equivalent of rates or council tax), which is proportional to assessed value, have pretty much doubled in the last 5 years.

Just down the street, there's a waterfront lot with a dock that can accommodate a 35-foot boat. The lot is on the market for $460,000! We couldn't afford to move to Anacortes today.

Maybe we'll be able to figure a way to release the equity in our home, pay off the balance of the mortgage and go rent something, maybe in the UK somewhere, using the equity as part of our retirement savings.

It would be a wrench to be so far away from our kids and grandkids, but it's only a 10-hour flight for about $500, depending on season! We did the same to our folks, and getting across the pond was a lot more difficult in those days.

Frank Damp (wife Eileen, nee Nixon)
Leyland resident 1941-1965, emigrated to the US in 1968,
retired to Anacortes, Washington State, USA in 1999.
What an interesting set of posts, I can only add how we went on coming to Canada. We came in 74, I was an inspector with the North Western gas board so had no worries, the job was steady, we had no mortgage, three young daughters and lots of relatives and friends. The reasons we left, I didn,t like the influx of East Indians, suddenly whole blocks of streets looked like hovels, there was filth everywhere and the Thatcher government did nothing to stop the problem. They were also attacking the working class, gutting unions, cancelling social programs and in general making life very difficult. When we arrived I sat the Canadian trade tests {which were mandatory} for gas fitting, applied at a local school district and got a job as a heating tradesman. We rented for a couple of years and then moved east 50 miles where we could afford to purchase a house {mortgaged}. At that time {77}we paid $46,000, 15 years later we sold it for $110,000 and bought one for $108,000, 10 more years we sold that one for $156,000 and moved down into a retirement complex for $98,000. We,ve been here for 6 years now and been mortgage free for 15 years. I retired at 55 last June with an adequate pension. There are no major medical problems here in Canada, everyone is covered although
there is the usual backlog for opperations. We have been back to England just about every second year since we came, it was very difficlt for Phyllis, her parents and only sister were there and although we continually badgered them to come over, in 30 years her dad never came, her mother three times and her sister twice whereas my parents came at least 12 times. Both sets of parents are now gone
and her sister is not in the best of health. I have a sister and brother and their families here and three sisters and two brothers in England. We have six grandchildren and lots of friends, life is good
and I have no regrets. I still play football, golf and fish and phyllis shops!!! So there you go Frank, sell up move north, you can still buy into our complex for about $120,000 Canadian, put the rest in your bank and live the life of Riley.
Oops, that should have read, retired at 60, wishfull thinking I guess.

Originally posted by Lady Griffin

Leaving is pretty hard on the ones that go too.

Very true. I know it must have been hard on my great-uncle and aunt to uproot and I'm sure that's partly why great-grandma went with them. She helped out with their two daughters, but that meant when she became very frail in old age, all her care fell onto my great-uncle and aunt.

They made friends on the boat out to NZ who became lifelong surrogate uncles and aunties to my cousins. Both my cousins were as upset by the recent death of the last of these "aunties" as they would have been by the death of a blood relative. The elder of my two cousins was 13 when they left for NZ and I know she found it hard - it's harder to make friends when everyone else at school is already in cliques and doesn't have a Cheshire accent. The younger cousin was five and settled much more easily, but it did throw the two girls together on each other for company and the two are very close. I doubt they would ever live more than a few miles apart.

Can I say a thank you to everyone who's contributed to this thread? The emigration tales have been fascinating - it's always interesting to know the whys and wherefores behind people's decisions.
This is from a very recent immigrant- your stories have been fascinating.
The reason we came out here was, for my part, divorce then job loss, arrears and ensuing potential house reposession. During all this I'd met my partner who was struggling artist. I felt that, buying a house over here, whether or not we managed to make a living, would mean I still had a house! I was able to buy th property incredibly cheaply and it's been great not to have a mortgage.
I'm glad we made that decision, but it was done I think to enable us to feel we still had some control over our lives during difficult times. We certainly had no illusions of moving to some earthly paradise away from a changing Britain- as a lot of recent arrivals here seem to have.
We've always missed our country, family and friends. I have tears in my eyes when we drive up the M6 and get the first glimpse of the moors above Horwich . This is my land!
Lovely though it is here, and we have great French friends, we will never speak the language like the natives- that will always set us apart- and our cultural references are totally different ( I'm talking even TV and comic books here, never mind Shakespeare and Turner)
As others have mentioned, the question of old-age and possible infirmity has to be redressed- I certainly wouldn't like to end up in a ' maison de retraite' over here!!
We have a long-term plan ( five years??) to move back to England and this comforts me!!
We emigrated just for the adventure. I was only 26 when we emigrated, with a wife and a one year old son. I never thought we would settle away from England. Before we emigrated we agreed that even if we were really homesick we would stick it out for two years before deciding to go back to England. My wife was more homesick than I was, but we stuck it out and then we went home for a three week vacation. And it was then, after just a few days back in Preston, my wife said to me one day..."I wouldn't want to live here anymore"....that was music to my ears because I had really settled well in the USA.
Even though at that time we were still only renting, I think that the lifestyle, and the easy money was a big influence on her decision. I was making more money in two days than our rent was for the month, and Doris was now driving a nice American car so she felt much more independent. And we had made a lot of friends in the two years so that was a big help too.
Things were so much cheaper, and the wages so much higher, that we would have been silly to move back to Preston
Just to give you one example of the difference in prices back in 1964 when we emigrated......Petrol cost 5 shillings a gallon, and I was a skilled toolmaker working at Warton aerodrome for British Aircraft Corporation earning about 8 shillings an hour. I could buy about a gallon and a half for an hours work.
When I went to work in the USA, my first job was with Chrysler Car Co. I was paid $3 an hour and petrol was 20 cents a gallon...I could buy 15 gallon with one hours pay !! It was a smaller gallon than the then Imperial gallon, but the difference was still huge.
Another example was, ....working for BAC I got any English Electric goods at cost price...I bought my wife a slim line English Electric refrigerator through the company and the cost was about three weeks wages, in 1963 that was about £90.
The fridge fit under our counter top in the kitchen. In the USA we bought a brand new fridge that my wife couldn't see over the top of, for just over a weeks pay!!
So, it's not so much why we emigrated, as why we never went back. And I haven't even mentioned the weather, which, when we lived in Syracuse in upstate New York was a whole new experience for us. We definately had the four seasons, but we did HAVE a summer every year, hot and humid with brilliant electrical storms thrown in. Ask anyone who lives 'back east' about the colorful fall season, you have to see it to believe it. The winters were very cold, many times the temp dropping well below zero Fahrenheit, and we were guaranteed snow, and plenty of it, but we made the most of the weather too. We learned to ski and skate. We would build a snow wall around our garden then flood the inside, next day we had our very own skating rink, we carved 'chairs' in the snowbank and had hot chocolate between skating.
Try to imagine that we had seven feet of snow fall in two days one February weekend. It was exciting and we loved it...but we loved the call of the California sunshine too.
Here in the San Gabriel valley, we can snow-ski in the morning and sunbath in the afternoon.
We have about 40 days a year when it rains, but when it rains, it pours.

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