These people ditched the UK and moved abroad to work – for their mental health

The UK is notorious for bad weather, grey skies and unexpected downpours.

Commuting is tedious. Working in an office isn’t for everyone. And working hours can be exhausting when you’re tied to a rota.

So, it’s no wonder that 40% of UK employees wouldn’t mind upping sticks, moving away and working remotely from a tropical location.

Yes, that’s right – four out of ten employed Brits believe having the flexibility to be able to work their current job from another country could have a positive impact on their mental health, according to printing specialists instantprint.

Taking a deep dive into why people move abroad for work, here at Metro.co.uk we’ve spoken to three people who ditched the UK to work remotely in sunnier climates.

Some experienced successful outcomes and haven’t looked back, while others preferred the UK.

But overall, it seems as though moving abroad has its benefits.

Sam, Portugal

Sam Bruce, co-founder of fast-growth travel company Much Better Adventures, took the plunge and moved to sunny Portugal.

Making the move earlier this year, it came after his company shut all of their offices when the pandemic hit.

Never re-opening them, Much Better Adventures became a fully-remote company.

‘It’s had so many benefits and I’m delighted we made the decision,’ Sam explains to us.

Instead of investing in an office space, the company put money towards team meet ups instead, revealing: ‘We’ve just come back from kayaking and wild camping in the Norwegian fjords all together.’

‘Personally speaking, I have two young kids and I now get to spend so much more quality time with them.

‘I used to lose so many hours to delayed trains commuting in and out of London which meant I was missing so many bedtimes and those precious moments that you only get one shot at – I was getting increasingly grumpy about it.’

Touching on the huge contrast that he has seen, he explains: ‘I now live next to a beach, surrounded by nature, my commute to the office is 30 seconds, and my work-life balance is significantly better which all has had a positive impact on my work.

‘We’ve just recruited some amazing new people into the business, all working remotely, all feeling and reaping the same benefits.’

Speaking about how starkly different it is to work in Portugal, Sam says he feels ‘much more productive now,’ adding, ‘for those of us who spend the majority of our time tapping away on a computer, I struggle to see how this just isn’t the future of work.’

He has realised that he spends less energy being grumpy with trains, ‘and I’m less grumpy in general. There is no denying that living on a beautiful coastline, surrounded by nature, with a 30-second commute has been good for my physical and mental health and it has had a positive impact on my work.’

Nimrita, India

Dr Nimrita Bassi, grew up in India but had been too busy setting up a business or completing her PhD that she never visited family there.

CEO at Marketing Essentials Lab, she helps large B2B companies and multinationals double their engagement and reach through interactive social media content.

‘I could easily do my work remotely,’ she tells us, which is why during the pandemic she decided to go to India, and did just that in December 2021.

Lifting the lid on the mental health benefits, Nimrita explained that she found life ‘much more well balanced in India, which was excellent, especially during the winter when the days can be pretty short in the UK.’

She also found a greater sense of community, and having family around ‘made things less stressful as there was a better support system’.

‘Additionally, being in India definitely got me thinking creatively and I embraced mindfulness. I was doing mindfulness before but not as frequently.’

Nimrita enjoyed her time in India, but by April 2022 after four months abroad, she realised she missed her life in the UK and was happy to return.

‘It gets scorching in India in the summer. I enjoyed my time in India but I like living the UK more.’

Moyra, North Carolina

Moyra Mackie, an experienced and qualified executive coach, decided to make the move from the UK to North Carolina during the second winter of lockdown – January 2021.

Her decision was sparked after a difficult divorce, her children growing up and her career taking off online since the pandemic.

‘I made a list of all the things that were important to me, including being honest with myself that learning a new language at the age of 55 would be hard, and then asked myself where in the world I could go to,’ she tells us about making the decision to move away.

‘I had lived in North Carolina in the 90s and so I researched whether it still met the criteria I’d set out for myself.

‘I figured I could spend years researching and exploring possible places to live, so why not start somewhere that I knew and where I had good memories and good contacts?’

Since moving there, Moyra tends to get up at 7.30, which is early enough for her to catch the deer wandering through her back garden and the woods that back onto her house.

‘I usually have coffee out on my deck and start the day with some journaling and some time just quietly with my eyes closed, face up to the sun, listening to the birds and appreciating where I am.

‘My morning tends to be taken up with online coaching and meetings. I set up an online journaling community called The Journal Safari and run a weekly online journaling class. 

‘It runs 6pm to 7pm in the UK, so that is finished by 2pm my time which is when I can then go out for a walk, take a break and then do admin and planning later in the afternoon.

‘I’m generally done by 4pm which still gives me time to appreciate my new surroundings.’

And because of this, the weather, and the lifestyle that the good weather brings, Moyra finds that her mental wellbeing is ‘absolutely better’.

‘Between December and March, I noticed that we’d get on average one day a week where the sun didn’t shine, while all my friends back in the UK were complaining about the rain and the short dark days.’

She went on to say: ‘Generally I have more energy and feel more resilient to the inevitable stresses of running my own business and living a life in the current political and economic environment.’

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