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Expats do it better


Despite constant government attempts to drum up some national pride for a so called Big Society, the numbers of people emigrating abroad continue to rise. What makes people want to become expatriates?

For Victoria Coren, poorly displayed house numbers are the final straw; for others it’s the promise of a laid back life in Spain (currently the top expat destination) that tears them, ever so reluctantly I’m sure, away from rainy days and commuter trains.

Whatever your reason for going, there are plenty of examples of expats making it big after deciding that another culture, economy or climate is the one for them. This list of famous immigrants will have you flat packing that furniture, sorting your expat insurance and booking a flight to find your fortune.  

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin was born in London and although he was UK based during his very early career, his big break came when he was given the opportunity to move to the United States as part of the Fred Karno Repertoire Company. He was a hit with US audiences and moved into film, his contracts getting more and more lucrative as his fame increased. Despite some jaunts to Europe, Chaplin remained based almost entirely in the US and became one of the most successful performers, writers and producers in cinematic history.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnie moved from Austria to the US in 1968 and by 2011 he was the Governor of California. Not a bad move for him then. Although he originally trained and found fame as a professional body builder, he then forged an extremely successful acting career that saw him take on Predator, play Danny DeVito’s twin brother and get pregnant. His move into politics seems like the obvious cherry on top of this bizarre career cake. Whatever you think of the Governator’s politics, he’s certainly made the most of his big move abroad and I very much doubt he’ll be back any time soon.

Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John was actually born in Cambridge, England and immigrated to Australia with her family when she was six years old; so she is technically ours even if she doesn’t think so. She started performing as a teenager in Melbourne and has since won four Grammy awards and racked up plenty of hit songs as well as a successful movie career. By which I of course mean she was in Grease, and if that’s not synonymous with a successful movie career then I don’t know what is.

Mick Fleetwood and John McVie

One of the most famous and successful rhythm sections in history, Fleetwood Mac’s drummer and bassist are still playing together after over four decades – and both have chosen the sunnier climes of Hawaii to enjoy their far-from-retirement. The two friends each have a Hawaiian home to enjoy between Fleetwood Mac tours and trips back to Blighty. Mick Fleetwood even became an official US citizen in 2006 and now lives with his family in Maui full time, performing locally with his band Mick Fleetwood’s Island Rumours Band.

Bill Bryson

To be fair to the UK, there is at least one person in history that has moved here voluntarily and by all accounts seems to love the place. Author Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, US but now lives with his family in England. Among many other books he has written a tribute to our small nation called Notes From a Small Island, in which he describes his travels around the country, his love for British place names and actually makes you think twice about leaving the grey shores of the UK after all.