Voluntary & Involuntary Migration – a Personal Perspective

The motivations to move from one’s home country are varied
and individual-specific, ranging from seeking work (employment), to wanting to see the
world (adventure/exploration), to escaping a broken relationship (escapism/new
beginning), and more besides. It is far from uni-dimensional, which poses difficulties in the migration discourse, with some quarters advocating the positive lifestyle opportunities of voluntary migration, and others lamenting the brain drain and misery caused by involuntary migration.

I myself lived in Germany and France for almost nine years, having left voluntarily (followed my partner) and remained for lifestyle reasons (we were both living and working abroad during the boom years in Ireland!). We returned to Ireland voluntarily
over six years ago for family reasons.

The experiences of living abroad and coming to terms with doing things differently build character and tolerance in an individual. However, decisions of residency are never easy: I do wonder what it would be like had we remained in (the south of) France: working a 35-hour week, plentiful holidays, excellent education and healthcare, bilingual kids, near the beaches, the mountains, great weather… The same ‘lifestyle’ options are not possible in Ireland, but other factors do weigh-in – like proximity to family and having children grow up in a culture with which you are familiar.

The decisions we make are never straightforward. They are even more difficult when the only option is to emigrate, which so many Irish families are facing currently, due to the very challenging economic situation in Ireland.