The Scotsman spoke to five Scots who've emigrated, to find out whether they agree that life is better away from home

Better weather, cheaper beer and more money at the end of the month. Is it any wonder our expats don't want to come home?

• Mitre Peak, Milford Sound , Fjordland, New Zealand

According to a survey released this week by NatWest, nine out of ten Britons living abroad believe they have a better quality of life than

they would if they were living in the UK.

They earn up to 20,000 more and 87 per cent think they have an improved work-life balance. But what's the reality of becoming an expat?

'We wanted our kids to grow up as Kiwis'

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MURDO SHAW, 38, moved to Raglan, New Zealand, from Glasgow seven years ago. He is now married to Gill, 37, and they have three children, Isabella, five, Francesca, three, and Antonia, three months.

"MOVING here was a complete accident. I was only supposed to be travelling in New Zealand for six months. I discovered two friends that I was at school with in Kingussie, where I grew up, were living in this surf town on the west coast, so I went to see them. I was only supposed to be visiting for the weekend, but I met my wife on the first night, outside the local caf.

"So it became a fortnight, and then it was a month, and then it was two months, and I just never got any further. I had all these great plans of going back to Glasgow, but life was just far too good here. I have my own painting and decorating company, and although wages aren't as high as in Britain and the standard of living is slightly lower, the environment you live in is so much better.

"The things we enjoy and take for granted – like living next to the beach and all the outdoor activities – you'd have to be very rich to enjoy in Europe.

"The climate is far nicer, and there is a phenomenal sense of community here, too. If I go to the shops to buy a pint of milk it takes me an hour, because I meet so many people. It's a very friendly, sociable, relaxed, laid-back place to live.

"Two years ago we came back to the UK with the thought, 'Do we want to bring up the kids in Britain or New Zealand?' It took us two weeks to decide that we wanted our kids to grow up Kiwis. We saw the levels of antisocial behaviour, what they would be if they were brought up in Britain. I just couldn't do it to them."

'It's a very cosmopolitan atmosphere'

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MARTIN O'REILLY, 58, is a wealth manager from Carrbridge. He has two sons aged 19 and 23. He moved to Warsaw, Poland, 12 years ago.

"I WAS working in Abu Dhabi and the company went bust. I came back to a nice, safe, sensible job in Britain, and that went bust too.

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"When I was offered this opportunity in Warsaw, I actually had to go and get a map out to remind myself where it was.

"I have two sons, and when I moved they stayed in the Highlands with their mother. Back then, the schools here weren't particularly great, so I decided the easiest thing on the family would be to commute. I split it so that I'm here roughly three weeks a month, and then spend about a week back in Scotland.

"The cost of living is quite low here, and since Poland entered the European Union, incomes have gone up quite dramatically.

"Warsaw has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere, and in the summer everyone sits outside the cafs under the trees. It's very pleasant. I feel very safe here; the police are very visible, and there's a very international feel to the culture.

"I would be very, very reluctant to return to the UK full-time. There are huge problems, particularly within the economy, and I notice that there's a hugely negative atmosphere at the moment. People are taking jobs just to survive.

"Obviously, my family is back in Scotland, but I think if I did come back, I'd stay somewhere nice for six months in the winter and then maybe spend some time in Scotland in the summer. I wouldn't like to live there."

'The work-life balance is much better in Spain'

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ELIZABETH ELLIS, 43, and her husband Ged, 40, moved to Madrid, in Spain, from Edinburgh five years ago.

"WE WERE fed up with just working all the time, going home and going to the bar. We both worked in the media and there was a lot of stress in our jobs, and we wanted a more outdoor life. We seemed to be very indoor people in Scotland, and we just thought, 'There must be something better than this.'

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"When we first moved, finding somewhere to live was a nightmare, but people were very nice. I didn't realise the expat scene would be so helpful: it's a big support network. Bureaucracy here is a pain. It's stupid, little administrative things that are more difficult, rather than the big things. I can't fault the healthcare system. When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, they immediately sent me for a mammogram.

"I work freelance for a magazine, and Ged is an English teacher. The work-life balance is much better here. If people leave the office early because of a family issue there's none of that 'Oh, look she's leaving early' stuff; it's a much healthier attitude.

"I miss family and friends, but coming back is not on the cards for us. We're looking to buy a house. We're settled. Madrid's home."

'It definitely feels like home'

JESSICA KIDDLE, a former Scotsman features writer, 30, and her partner, Mike MacKenzie, also 30, moved to Cape Town, South Africa, from Edinburgh in 2007.

"WE WERE looking for a lifestyle change and the chance to do something abroad, before we got married and had kids and did the whole settling-down thing. Mike's a doctor and was offered a post in Cape Town, so off we went. Although it was quite tricky getting a work visa, once I did, I got a job on a magazine.

"We have 100 per cent better quality of life here than we did in Scotland. Financially, we're actually worse off in wages and cost of living, but the lifestyle is much nicer.

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"Eating out and socialising is cheaper, and because the weather is so great there are so many things you can do for free. We go hiking a lot, Mike surfs, I swim, and we go on picnics and drives.

"I do miss the NHS. Trying to navigate the private healthcare system here is very stressful. And I miss being able to walk around on my own. Everything here is very car-orientated, which is partly a safety thing, because there are security issues here, although I haven't had any trouble.

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"There is a much better work-life balance in the southern hemisphere than in Britain. People here come to work at 9am and leave at 5pm. They work very hard within those hours, but when work is done you go home and there is so much to do, and still so much daylight to experience.

"Despite all that, we have made the call to come home in June. Mike's got the opportunity to train and develop in his role in medicine, which he doesn't have here, and we own a flat in Edinburgh and still have student loans to pay off in sterling, which is not easy to do living here.

"I'm a bit wobbly about it, as I absolutely love it here. It definitely feels like home."

'I love the climate, but I often think of returning'

CLARE HAGGERTY, 33, moved to Texas from Glasgow in 1985. She returned to Glasgow in 1995 to attend university and then relocated to San Francisco in 2000.

"MY DAD moved the family here when I was a kid. He was working as a diplomat and decided that life would be better in the US, and that we'd have more opportunities here. I grew up in Houston, but I went back to Glasgow to go to university when I was 18, and I loved being back in Scotland. The only reason I went back to America after I graduated was so I wouldn't lose my green card.

"From my perspective, the UK government takes better care of its citizens. If you look at something like healthcare, which is only now coming up in the US, that's something you don't have to worry about in the UK.

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"I work in the arts as an independent art curator, and in my view there is more state money for arts programmes in Britain. The US is a place where you can be very successful: it's a bigger place with opportunity for growth, but if you're working in art, then it's not necessarily better.

"San Francisco is a beautiful city, and I do love the climate, and the fact that it's very walkable, but I often think about going back to the UK. I'm actually working on getting my US citizenship, because it would give me a bit more freedom of movement.

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"I could keep my British passport, but also my American connections, as my family are settled here. That way, I'd be able to have the best of both worlds."