Britain: Where Now? Goodbyeee: . . . but don't cryeee. For those who despair of a future in Britain, we offer the Good Emigrants Guide. Where to go, what to expect, where the chips are worth a detour: United States

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The Independent Online
BRITONS immigrating to the United States think first of California, the golden state. But think carefully before you trade in your premium bonds for an air ticket to the West Coast.

America's most populous state is in the throes of an even worse recession that its parent nation. At least 100,000 jobs have been lost. British scientists and engineers who were embraced with open arms a decade ago are no longer needed.

To get a work permit your prospective employer must be able to prove that you have skills that are not available on the domestic labour market.

The United States also makes available each year 40,000 new 'green cards' to citizens of 34 countries, including Britain. These are distributed through a lottery. But the chances of acquiring one are minuscule.

If you manage to overcome all these complications, you will find acquiring health and motor insurance and bank credit a bureaucratic nightmare. Expect to pay a minimum of dollars 250 ( pounds 150) a month for two people for health insurance; even then, you may be expected to contribute a portion of the bill (often a fifth), if you become sick.

Housing is also costly, especially in the metropolitan areas, although the standard of accommodation is high. Many homes in southern California have a swimming pool, hot tub, and twin garages. An average owner-occupied dwelling in California is around dollars 200,000 ( pounds 125,000). A spacious rented two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles will set you back some dollars 1,300 a month.

But it is not all bleak. For those on middling salaries, income tax is lower than in Britain. Petrol is about half the cost (although you are likely to travel far more miles than in Britain). Cars are also far less costly.

And the cultural life? There is, of course, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood's Walk of Fame. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of Peter Falk or Rod Stewart.

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