The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sarah O'Meara Headshot

Why Newly-Weds Can't Afford to Grow Up in Britain

Posted: Updated:
SHANGHAI
Getty Images

Nothing focuses one's mind on the future quite like the aftermath of your own wedding.

Suddenly frothy conversations, which dwell on whether the best mens' cravats will clash with the table runners, are jettisoned, in favour more pressing matters.

"If we have a baby, Dear [pause]. Where exactly would we put it?"

The conversations start casual, and then gradually become more frenzied, as the beautiful sentiments of your wedding day give way to confusion.

"We could live in Lincoln. It's just a four-hour daily commute... and we can get three bedrooms"

"Okay. [pause] Isn't that in Nebraska?"

Because it's only now that it truly dawns on you both, that having bandied around words like 'journey' and 'adventure' casually for months, while writing those heart-felt speeches about your future, you and your husband can't afford to grow up.

Due to wage freezes, soaring public transport costs and house prices stubbornly remaining hundreds and thousands of pounds beyond your budget (unless the bank of Mum and Dad happens to find unexpected riches behind the sofa), you're.. well.. trapped exactly where you are in life, and your dreams are in suspended animation. And, this time, no amount of sitting around, drinking wine and making big plans will help.

So what do a newly married couple in Britain do if they aspire to raise a child in a flat bigger than a shoebox, prosper in their careers and show their kid that an education really does pay off (without simply resorting to a trip round to their grandparents house?)

Well, my husband and I don't have all the answers. But, faced with a government that seems incapable of delivering more than a depressing projection for our future, we are migrating -- just like millions do across the world everyday -- to a country that's growing: China.

Of course, we're not utterly naive. It takes more than a country's steady growth rate to deliver personal prosperity. Yet, it's not money we're chasing, it's hope.

The energy and dynamism of the Chinese economy (set to be the world's largest by 2017) has a fantasy quality, which directly contrasts to the horribly real sense of stagnation at home.

The chance to be part of a country that throws up bridges and railways like they're going out of fashion and hasn't allowed its next generation to be priced out of the housing market, seems better than watching successive British governments fail miserably to engage with the big issues that are locking the younger generations out of homes and jobs that enable independence from parents, or the state.

Back in 1978, the year I was born, this strange land of the East, which back then had about as much relevance to most British families as the Christmas pantomime, began its economic transformation.

Now, if you mention the name China peoples' eyes begin to glow, in the same way they did when you mentioned New York 10 years ago. Then add the word 'Shanghai', and they immediately ask if they can visit (after all, who didn't love Skyfall?)

Coming up to Christmas, this will be just my second year as a married woman -- and the first away from the man I married, who has already gone to begin our new life.

I can't believe that if Britain continues to disappoint, we'll be the last couple to head out.