Two thirds of Irish emigrants are ‘happier’ in the UK

UK Irish emigrants happier

With the UK as Irish emigrants’ favourite destination, its no surprise they’re happiest here

Two-thirds of Irish emigrants living in the United Kingdom since 2008 are happier in their adopted country than they were in Ireland, a new study has found, reports Adam Shaw.

The Generation Emigration Survey, which was conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of The Irish Times, discovered that 67 per cent of respondents were happier with their new lives. This is due to enhanced workplace benefits and a strong sense of Irish community in Britain.

Furthermore, the proximity of Ireland to the UK means the distance from loved ones is less of a struggle than in other English-speaking countries. The biggest challenge of living across the Irish Sea was said to be the difficulty in finding a place to live, though only 16 per cent of participants said this was the case. In spite of this affection for life in Britain, more than four in ten said they plan to return to Ireland at some point in the future.

Almost one in five said they plan to complete a return within the next three years, while just under a quarter hope to remain in the UK. Of those who aim to return to Ireland, 30 per cent cited family as the main motivation.

UK Irish emigrants happier
There have been many scenes like this at Ireland’s airports and ferryports since 2008

A similar amount said finding a suitable job and adjusting to the work environment would be the biggest challenge facing them upon a return. The concept of employment was deemed the biggest factor in leaving Ireland in the first place, with the UK seen as offering more job options.

Four in ten of those surveyed who were unemployed at the time opted to travel to the UK, while 55 per cent of UK-based respondents said they moved for work opportunities. Several of these moves have been successful in terms of career progression, with 58 per cent of participants in Britain having received a promotion.

However, according to the report, emigrants to the UK were the least likely to save money – as many as 20 per cent said they had failed to save anything since moving. With ease of access to Ireland in terms of distance and flight options, Britain is seen as a good place to be an Irish emigrant. While several respondents cited missing family and friends as being the worst thing about living abroad, more than ten per cent of those surveyed said they return to Ireland at least once a month.

And the strong Irish presence in Britain creates a ‘home from home’ atmosphere that is attractive to emigrants. Around 60 per cent of participants in the UK said they have a mostly Irish circle, while 36 per cent are involved in Irish community activities and sports teams. Moreover, four in ten of those surveyed had coupled up with another Irish person; this is compared to 21 per cent entering a relationship with someone from the UK.

And while two-thirds of Irish living in Britain post-2008 might be happier in their new lives, a considerable amount of them felt they had no choice.

Almost 40 per cent of the total respondents said they felt “forced” to leave Ireland, with lack of job opportunities the primary reason. And seven in ten believe the Irish government is not doing enough to encourage them to return, with two-thirds unaware of its #HometoWork campaign.


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