Where should I move where I'll be accepted?
April 2, 2015 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm an unwanted immigrant in the UK. I want out. Where to go?

Over the last 5 years there has been an increasingly hostile and callous attitude to immigrants and immigration in this country, even if they are integrated and settled. Personally, I'm at the point where I feel uncomfortable and bitter about living and working in a country that obviously does not want me around. A set of personal and official altercations over the last 6 months have made me realise I'm wasting my time, time to go.

Specific details:
-I'm single, 35 years old male.
-I'm a practising (i.e. turban wearing) Sikh.
-I am a naturalised British citizen.
-I have undergraduate and graduate (doctorate) degrees from Cambridge in Computer Science.
-I have previously worked (up until 3 years ago) as a researcher in Computer Science at a leading university in Computer Science in the UK.
-I left 3 years ago, started a company which got acquired - specialising in infrastructure software
-I now am running a second company which is doing well, employs 21 people, of which I am CTO and co-founder.
-I have the resources to buy my way into a country wrt investment visas or similar.
-I live for my work, I love what I do.
-I want to get married and settle down in the next 5 years.
-Maintaining my religion or culture wrt my progeny is of no importance to me at all.

What I'd like:
-A place where I can be wallflower, meek me and be accepted.
-A place where my academic and work credentials will be accepted.
-Open green space, big houses.
-Clever, intelligent, open-minded people.
-Tech centre would be nice.
-Where I'll be accepted (I know it's on twice).
-Good university links and university atmosphere (my plan is to revert to academia full time once I'm done with my current venture).
-Somewhere I can grow old and die without stressing out.
-Good weather (sunny climes)

In a nutshell, I'm tired of being "tolerated" and I want to be accepted. Find a girl, get married, get a life. The plan would be to exit in 1-2 years (estimated time of exit for the current work I'm doing). The obvious place to me at the moment is the Bay Area in the US (which I really like). However, this is hopefully a one-time decision so I'm open to hearing about potential other places to go visit that may suit someone of my temperament.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (58 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by oceanjesse at 10:27 AM on April 2, 2015

I was going to say Bay Area, duh, but then I saw the penultimate sentence of your question! I really don't see how you could improve on it so I'll be anxious to see what others recommend.

Here's a list of international technology centers sorted geographically.
posted by resurrexit at 10:30 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Istanbul, Mexico City, Quito, and Santiago would all be on my list.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:32 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Toronto? There's a reasonably big Sikh community in certain areas if that's what you want. I think you'll be accepted, but it would be naive to say there's no racism at all. And Sikhs in Ontario lost a court case and are now required to wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle. Anyway, there's a reasonable tech community, 3 universities with CS departments (U of T, Ryerson, York) and it's fairly multicultural.

Toronto still has weather. The Bay Area doesn't. You won't able to afford a house near open space in the Bay Area unless you're already pretty wealthy. Although Toronto is not much better there.
posted by GuyZero at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2015 [13 favorites]

Come to Scotland, Glasgow specifically. We might be in the UK but we're a country that wants and welcomes immigrants. Good weather may be a problem however...
posted by Caskeum at 10:38 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Open green space, big houses.

Everything else says that Bay Area is a good fit (we have a turban wearing Sikh where I work, as it happens), but this one... no. We can do open green space, but you are not getting big houses.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:42 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, in terms of immigration difficulty, Canada is easier than the US. The US is neither hard nor easy - a lot of people in your situation manage to immigrate here, but it requires a lawyer and possibly money, which you have. Becoming a Canadian landed immigrant could be done self-service or with much less investment.
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

San Francisco and the Bay Area are increasingly expensive, but you don't have to be wealthy to buy a place (i.e. I work on a nonprofit salary and I bought a house last year). Renting is crazy expensive, but buying can be more reasonable if you're willing to look outside of the most popular, boxed-in neighborhoods and cities.

I lived in Los Angeles for a long time and, although it's not for me, you might find happiness there (or in Southern California generally). There are quite a lot of Sikhs, and quite a lot of visibly different people, scattered throughout the tens of millions of people who live between Santa Barbara and San Diego. It's possibly the most socially casual place I've ever lived, which gives a lot of people comfort after becoming habituated to standing out and drawing negative attention. Neighborhoods, of course, can be highly variable--some good, some bad--but the overall impression is quite open.

Take note, though, that water is scarce and is getting scarcer in California.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:49 AM on April 2, 2015

but you are not getting big houses.

Well, let's not forget he's coming from the U.K., so most U.S. homes are big by comparison. UK avg new home size 76 m^2 (818 sq ft), US avg new home size is 201 m^2 (2163 sq ft).
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:49 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Vancouver, BC. Temperate climate, beautiful peaceful setting, universities, best standard of living in the world, and a huge percentage of residents are immigrants. The only downside is that it's expensive, but it sounds like you can afford it.
posted by dacoit at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2015 [23 favorites]

I was also going to suggest Canada. If your definition of good weather is "sunny" then I suggest Calgary, which is sunny 333 days/year (much higher than anywhere in California). The real estate market won't be crazy like Vancouver (huge Sikh population, but not sunny) or Toronto (also large Sikh population), in fact, with falling oil prices, I would think prices are falling all over Alberta and the labour supply for your business will likely be plentiful.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Most of the US would be fine. Even here in Minneapolis (a medium-sized city in the middle of nowhere), Sikhs are common in the tech industry and there is a small but very active Sikh community.

The problem is getting a visa -- you'd have to work for a university or large tech company, you can't really get a visa as small company employee (unless you can pay 500k to start a company, which I assume you can't).
posted by miyabo at 10:55 AM on April 2, 2015

Portland, Oregon has big houses. I've can admit to having never been a practising Sikh in Portland, but if "sunny" is a negotiable point, I think it otherwise meets all your requirements.
posted by aniola at 10:56 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about New Zealand? There's even a Sikh Member of Parliament who recently got re-elected.
posted by mareli at 10:58 AM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

nthing Toronto (or its suburbs Mississauga / Brampton). I live here and it is very multi-cultural, friend groups are a mix from all over. 50% of inhabitants are foreign-born. I work in tech, and it really is a mix of cultural backgrounds and it's very respectful. I've asked my friends how they've felt and they haven't reported feeling othered in the way you describe (but up north in Ontario people can be idiots, don't go up north).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:00 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Come to Scotland, Glasgow specifically.

I would second this. Glasgow's a great place and there is a large Sikh community (10,000 in Scotland, mostly in Glasgow). Scotland's largest Gurdwara opened on the south side of Glasgow in 2013). Another beautiful, £15m Gurdwara is slowly being constructed in the west of the city, near the university - this is a lovely area, full of green spaces, lovely people. Housing is relatively inexpensive, so a nice large home is certainly possible.

As Caskeum says, though, you shouldn't come expecting great weather - not all the time at least.
posted by cincinnatus c at 11:02 AM on April 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

I can't speak to most of your things, but if you only want to move one more time, do not move to a place where they have no water and don't expect to get it anytime soon. Worst snowpack on record this year. Makes for a very expensive utility bill.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

My first thought was Sydney, Australia. However, I have only visited, and couldn't give the detail that Sydneysider mefites could.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:05 AM on April 2, 2015

Not just Toronto, but with your situation, I'd consider the Waterloo-Guelph area, even over TO. There's a very strong university in Waterloo, and a well-entrenched tech community (it's the home of Blackberry and many networking companies). It's not as expensive as Toronto either, and the weather, by Canadian standards admittedly, is fairly mild. The countryside is quite pretty in a pastoral way. Getting a house on a few acres is quite a reasonable goal, for example.

Ottawa, as a tech centre, might be on your list as well, but I'd put it second to Waterloo in fit for you.

There are big Sikh communities in both Vancouver and Toronto, though you'll find communities all across the country. Many have moved here over the years to work in the mining and resource industries.
posted by bonehead at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Scotland, or Canada which is America's Scotland. Doesn't give you the weather, but unless you've got a decent amount of company-acquisition-money in the bank or some London/SE property to sell, on top of what might be needed for an investor visa, the Bay Area is problematic for housing, plus the whole drought thing.
posted by holgate at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most of the US would be fine.
That may be a little optimistic. Unfortunately, I think there's some fairly significant prejudice in many parts of this country.
posted by amro at 11:17 AM on April 2, 2015 [16 favorites]

The real estate market won't be crazy like Vancouver (huge Sikh population, but not sunny)

Ahhhh come on!! Poor Vancouver.
To be fair, we DO get fantastic summers. MUCH better than I remember in the UK at least.

The downside is that it rains from November-May... but hey, that's called living in a rainforest :)
posted by JenThePro at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2015

Whole way through I'm thinking "Bay Area for sure," and you end with that. So yeah, that. It's America, but only slightly, so your risk of running into racist bullshit is a lot lower than most parts of the country and you will be surrounded by a great diversity of South Asians and other educated immigrants. Your skills and personality will be welcomed with open arms. If you're well off it's as good a quality of life as exists anywhere in the world. California is running out of water, of course, but every place has its tradeoffs. Your first instinct is right.
posted by spitbull at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was also going to recommend Bay Area and then saw the end of your post, so I'll just add some encouragement to that idea. :) I lived there for many years and it has everything you're looking for.

The comment above: but you are not getting big houses is actually not altogether true. There are some areas where you can find larger houses and more open space -- the Berkeley hills, for example. (And Berkeley is awesome, and super tolerant of everything, and turbans etc are no big deal there at all.) The Palo Alto area and Napa Valley would have larger homes too, although there's also more of a rich-white-people vibe.
posted by phoenix_rising at 11:35 AM on April 2, 2015

Washington, DC area. There's a fairly significant Sikh population. There's a large population from SE Asia in general (though in VA it tends to skew more Muslim). The main tech center is Vienna, Virginia (Tyson's Corner area), but there are a lot of world class universities and *tons* of government and government-related work in comp sci.

Depending on what language you're a native speaker of, you can also get fast-tracked into higher level government work through some critical language programs. (I know that Hindi was one of the languages, because a friend's father is a native Hindi speaker and was considering applying, but off the top of my head, I don't remember the other languages).

The culture is very "credential"-oriented and intellectual. Lots of open space and large houses if that's what you want (horse/wine country is nearby, etc). The cost of living is high, but comparable to the Bay Area or London, so it would probably seem fine to you. You would definitely *not* seem unusual in terms of your background (either in terms of your race/religion or in terms of having earned your credentials in the UK).
posted by rue72 at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Although for my money Seattle has the very highest quality of life for the money of any American city, obviously a huge tech economy, lots of immigrants, very little racist bullshit, and fantastic outdoor life for much of the year in stunning and nearby surrounding areas, and even within the city. And it has water. And the Puget Sound. And the North Cascades. Yes, it rains and is dark (I find it beautiful, however) for 5 months out of the year. They don't tell you that the other 7 are glorious. UW is no Stanford, but it will do.
posted by spitbull at 11:45 AM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

A lot of places in the US have significant Sikh populations, but I would assume that to be true in the UK as well, and your post has a high emphasis on the concept of acceptance. I guess I'm a little confused about whether other places would feel more welcoming or accepting or not? Perhaps the US and Canada, particularly larger cities with international populations and perhaps with a slight bias to the same in the West, might be less stratified/more socially mobile/more accepting than the UK, but again, I would be concerned that they would not be significantly better?
posted by vunder at 11:49 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a kind of a downer of a report from the Bay Area Sikh Coalition. I'm afraid that things will probably be similar anywhere in the US. Kids have it particularly bad it seems--being any sort of different in school is a flashing beacon for bullies, and visible differences (race, attire) are particularly easy targets.
posted by that girl at 11:49 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I feel the same way in the country I was born in and still reside! So maybe the grass isn't greener, but maybe there's a neighborhood or city in your current city or region that's right for you?
posted by flimflam at 11:55 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would also suggest the Waterloo area of Ontario, Canada. You may want to contact the Golden Triangle Sikh Association and ask them for some perspective - on attitudes, living in this area, etc. I am not from the Sikh community, nor am I an immigrant, so I don't have that perspective to share.
posted by VioletU at 12:04 PM on April 2, 2015

How about moving to parts of India where Sikhs are the majority?
posted by Kwadeng at 12:06 PM on April 2, 2015

Washington, DC area. There's a fairly significant Sikh population. There's a large population from SE Asia in general (though in VA it tends to skew more Muslim). The main tech center is Vienna, Virginia (Tyson's Corner area), but there are a lot of world class universities and *tons* of government and government-related work in comp sci

I grew up in this area and am Indian American though not Sikh or Muslim and though the climate has changed a lot since I was growing up, I still wouldn't recommend moving there to get away from racism. My brother is still there and gets a lot of crap I think a lot of people would find really backward in the NYC area.
posted by sweetkid at 12:51 PM on April 2, 2015

I was the person who suggested Calgary, but now I want to also +1 Kitchener/Waterloo.

Here is the Wikipedia page on Sikhism in Canada (admittedly not as detailed as one would hope) and the Wikipedia list of Canadian Sikhs: I just clicked about 5 of these and all were politicians and 4 were elected to federal or provincial parliaments, which I think is arguably a sign of acceptance, not just tolerance. Though, of course, Canada isn't some magical land of no-racism, I think there are plenty of indicators that we are mostly decently ok.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:28 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am n'thing Canada as being welcoming to Sikhs, especially in the GTA and Vancouver, and the english accent is considered a bonus here. There are bigots, but nothing like what I experienced in the UK. For reference, I will link to a recent /r/toronto thread about Sikh gentlemen being refused service at the worst restaurant in Toronto. I am sure you are familiar with redditors usual level of bigotry but read through and see how many top-voted comments are variants on "My Canada includes Turbans" and "I'm a white guy who thinks a matching turban/tie and suit is one of the coolest fucking things a man can wear." As to the weather, it is not the Bay Area but it usually pretty bright. Good luck where ever you land!
posted by saucysault at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2015

The problem is getting a visa -- you'd have to work for a university or large tech company, you can't really get a visa as small company employee (unless you can pay 500k to start a company, which I assume you can't).

That's not really a significant barrier to someone of the OP's background. My husband self-sponsored a green card under the national interest waiver category (EB-2) because of his doctorate and publication record -- you just have to be able to show that your research contributes to the national interest (of the US). If you had Indian citizenship instead of UK, it would be tougher, because citizens from those countries which obtain the largest number of green cards every year (India, China, Philippines and Mexico, I believe) have a separate longer line for EB-2 green cards.

Anyway, if you read the question, the OP says he does have the resources to buy his way in via an investment visa or similar (i.e. 500 k or whatever).

I'm having a great time here as a South Asian here in Boston, but it certainly has been the opposite of sunny climes, so I won't recommend it :)
posted by peacheater at 1:30 PM on April 2, 2015

Canada. Vancouver, to be specific, is becoming quite a tech hub. In fact, my husband and I both work in tech, for major tech companies. Your wallflower self and your credentials and work experience will very much be accepted. There are several universities and colleges in and around Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver area. There are some ignorant jerks around (aren't there always?), but it is overwhelmingly a very liberal, progressive, well-educated population.

Open green space is everywhere you look. Sunny climes... maybe not so much for most of the year, but Vancouver has by far the mildest climate of any major Canadian city. It sure does rain a lot, but the summers are stunningly beautiful. It is an amazing city to enjoy summers in. You have ocean, beaches, lush forests, mountains. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

You don't need to buy your way in here, you can apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, which is specifically designed to pick highly educated individuals with in-demand skills such as yourself from the pool of applicants and have you landed here as an immigrant within six months.

As far as big houses, there are many gorgeous neighborhoods with amazing houses - but be prepared to pay several million for a big house in or near the city. Real estate is very expensive, but hey, it sounds like you could afford it.

Seriously. Vancouver.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:43 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

To add to what Spitbull said about the Bay area "you will be surrounded by a great diversity of South Asians and other educated immigrants. Your skills and personality will be welcomed with open arms. "
...And Americans love British accents, so you would most likely be beloved here.
posted by Toddles at 2:07 PM on April 2, 2015

I'm in Calgary and work in the oil patch. Sikhs are so numerous that their presence is completely unremarkable and unremarked upon. I think our weather is the best in Canada because it's so sunny, and while cold and snowy, there are chinooks to look forward to. There are two universities here, and because of the energy industry, lots of geo-tech.

That said, Calgary lives and dies by the price of crude oil and at the moment is reeling from the nose dive in crude prices. Vancouver recently held a recruiting drive here for tech sector jobs apparently because they can't fill all their requirements. The weather there will be much more like what you're used to and it's a spectacular city.

In general, I think you'll feel more at home in Canada than the US. Our social and legal systems are still quite British, and a certain British aloofness and sense of order, in my opinion, are more common here. Canadians tend to get British humour. In your shoes, I'd look to emigrate with Vancouver as my first choice, Calgary my second, and southern Ontario my third.
posted by angiep at 2:23 PM on April 2, 2015

I'm going to clear up a couple of things about the Bay Area. All the people freaking out about "running out of water" are being... quite dramatic. Reading the answers above, you would get the impression that we're expecting half the population to literally die in the next 6 months. Yes, we are in crazy, record setting droughts. But unless you live on unincorporated land, unconnected to public utilities and are dependent on a ground well or something, Californians are not running out of water. California agriculture and industry IS running out of water. Food prices are going to go up for the rest of the United States because we can't grow all their food cheaply anymore. But Californians are not going to die of thirst. Our water and grocery bills are going to go up, though. And not like, double in price, even. Just more.

You can most definitely get a large house near or on green rolling hills, it's just a matter of cost. Well, they'll be brown much of the year (this is normal, and not drought related).

You can most definitely find a welcoming, accepting neighborhood to live in. This may or may not be in conflict with the neighborhood that's going to get you a large house.

You can definitely find a school where your children's heritage will be celebrated. This is again, largely a matter of cost.

And you already know this is where you should be professionally, anyway.

Basically, the shitty parts of life you're describing exist here as well, but all of it can be managed, some at higher cost than others. This is going to be true of almost every place in the world worth considering, I'm afraid. I'm reading between the lines and saying that if you can afford a foreign investment visa, you can successfully have the life you want in San Francisco.

I'm personally also considering Vancouver.
posted by danny the boy at 2:45 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and in the really long term, I'm also considering repatriating to Taiwan, because I have roots there, and it's becoming a premier design and technology center in East Asia. Is there an analogous place for you in South Asia? Somewhere that maybe isn't ready right now, but will be in 5 years?

For me, being East Asian on the West Coast of North America is a hell of a lot easier than almost anywhere else in the world, but there's something really really... easy about looking like everyone else on the street. Restful.
posted by danny the boy at 3:04 PM on April 2, 2015

Don't laugh, but consider Ghana. There's a small but thriving Sikh community there (all expatriates). You have a skillset in high demand and the weather and people are awesome. Cost of living is relatively low, so your money goes farther. There are universities that would kill to have your skillset available to the students.
posted by ramix at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2015

If the national dialogue in the UK is feeling unwelcoming, then I wouldn't recommend many parts of the US. While some of the national debates are a joke, it can feel like a bit much sometimes.
I have also experienced a greater expectation placed on me to assimilate in the US than the UK.
Unfortunately, anti immigrant sentiments seem to have grown everywhere.
posted by troytroy at 3:54 PM on April 2, 2015

If the water warnings haven't scared you off, what about southern California? Orange County has a fair amount of technology stuff (mostly in the south end, like Irvine and surrounding areas), it's quiet enough that you can easily be shy there, and despite a not-undeserved reputation for political conservatism, it's pretty diverse. There's a Gurdwara walking distance from my house.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:06 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Orlando, Florida. It's something of a tech hub lately. Almost no one is from here, and the sheer number of gay, puerto rican, or vietnamese people have pretty well blazed the trail you're interested in trodding upon. There are not a lot of Sikh people, but a turban is more likely to be considered mad in the heat than a xenophobic's target. It is more sunny than you could possibly want, and we have the largest or second-largest university in the United States, with a Computer Science program that kicked my ass every year in regional programming contests.

If you can immigrate here, come spend US$300,000 on a really nice older (built well, stylish) house near downtown, and I think you'd love it. (Do not, under any circumstances move far away from downtown, toward the sprawled outer areas or theme parks. We must be civilized, after all.)
posted by cmiller at 4:22 PM on April 2, 2015

Counterintuitive to some of the items, and Bay Area is probably the best fit, but what about Houston? I've never been, but friends who need some tolerance to fit in like it. Austin might be another option in Texas. But, yeah, probably Bay Area or Vancouver.
posted by Gotanda at 6:37 PM on April 2, 2015

There's a pretty large Sikh community north of Santa Fe, in Española, New Mexico ...
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:38 PM on April 2, 2015

I think you might be comfortable in Irvine, CA. It's a major melting pot with a lot of tech companies. My small cul de sac is like the UN - white, Malaysian, Indian, Korean, Armenian, Chinese... It's super suburban and some people don't like that, but I love it.
posted by cecic at 7:32 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

We still have fringe racism but by and large Canada lives and dies on its multicultural self-image. Here in Vancouver we have a very large and present Sikh community. Housing's extra steep at the moment but in neighbouring city Surrey it's a bit more reasonable and there's a huge south Asian community centered there. You mention sun which is a common complaint here but as others mention, the summers are to die for and sunny getaway destinations to the south are cheap and short flights away. And most importantly, it's always warm here and dips below the freezing line are brief and infrequent. If acceptance is what counts, you can't beat the Canadian dream, and personally I will say, we'd love to have you.
posted by kaspen at 8:47 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing Irvine, CA. It's sunny, multicultural, and one of the safest cities in the US. UC Irvine is one of the best universities in the country, and with your tech salary, you should not have any problem affording a decent-sized house.

There are walking trails running all throughout (although a car is definitely required), and as a female of mixed South/SE-Asian descent, I used to take frequent evening walks while living there, and never felt safer. Additionally, there are plenty of open spaces by UCI, and the ocean is a 10-minute drive away (can't get more open that that:)

It is a master-planned community. Some might find it overly suburban, but having lived in the DC metro area for the past 5 years, I can say that I really miss Irvine's wide streets and clearly-labeled street signs.

In terms of starting a family, Irvine also has great public schools.
posted by invisible ink at 9:48 PM on April 2, 2015

I won't lie and say Australia has no problems with racism - it does. But there's a very large - and growing - community of Indians in general, and Sikhs are definitely part of that mix and have been for 30-odd years. Sounds like, based on the other things you are looking for, that sticking to the major cities (I'd suggest Melbourne, Canberra or Sydney; maybe Hobart though it's a smaller town) is probably the best. It tends to be where most universities are and all that kind of academic community life, and cities in general seem to be more tolerant and diverse.

I live in Melbourne in an area which has a substantial Indian, Vietnamese, African and Chinese population (I'm using umbrella terms because it's easier than going into all the details). It's an amazingly tolerant and vibrant community and I love it much more than the largely Anglo-European suburbs I lived in before. Yeah, there are the odd racist bogans, but I think they're everywhere. As for clever, open-minded people - well, it depends who you hang out with! There's no shortage of intelligentsia and overall, Australia is a more small-l liberal country than the US (despite our current PMs best efforts to drag us back into the conservative 50s). More secular and less religious, too, if that matters.

I'm not hugely familiar with Sydney or Canberra, though I suspect Canberra might also suit you very well. It's very green, and as a planned city has pocket suburbs separated by bush. Quite peaceful. Sydney definitely has a bogan element, but unless you move to Cronulla (don't) you should be fine.

Environment and lifestyle are certainly more along your criteria than anywhere in Canada, which is really not a warm country temperature-wise in my experience. Canberra sometimes gets snow on the coldest nights of the year, but snow in Melbourne or Sydney is unheard of. You have to go away to the mountains to get proper snow. Also, it would probably be a lot easier to organise the whole migration thing to Australia given that you are a British citizen and Australia is part of the British Commonwealth. Not that it would necessarily be hugely difficult to immigrate to the US, but it would be that much easier to shift to Australia.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:24 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am a white US immigrant to the UK, and I hear you about the poisonous, vile, UKIPian nonsense being spouted in the UK. It reeks.

I would gently suggest you heed the opinions of people who look like you, rather than people who don't.

White people, in my experience, do not get what it's like to be noticed constantly by other people (unless they have a visible difference).

To answer your question better, the US coasts are better than anywhere in the middle (where I grew up). But for restfulness, relaxation that you didn't even know you weren't feeling, I would keep looking. I like what Danny the boy suggests.
posted by mgrrl at 3:04 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Come to the Netherlands. Tech is big here, and people will understand your credentials. You can have a big house if you live in a small town on the fringes of the Randstad. I have not seen a huge number of Sikhs here, but the Dutch are familiar with and supportive of your religious practices (also the Dutch understand that Sikhs are not Muslims, if that is a factor). Coming from the UK you should not have a problem qualifying for work. Also everyone speaks conversationally fluent and in some cases near-native fluent English. Our social net is among the best in the world - you will have no existential threats because of the economic or political system here at all. In terms of green spaces, yes we are the most densely populated part of Europe, but we have many cherished green spaces, even in the heart of most cities.

For better or worse, depending upon your point of view, Dutch women are liable to see you as attractively exotic which from a statistical point of view at least increases your chances of X number of first dates, which again in theory increases your likelihood to find a lasting relationship. Note: I am not a Dutch woman (but I have been with one for 25 years....)

On the downside, Holland is only slightly more sunny than the South of England. On the plus side when it is sunny it's glorious.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2015

Houston Texas might have what you are looking for. I know, Texas as home of the notorious immigration bashers and right wing ideology does not sound very inviting. However, Houston is the most diverse large city in the country. There is a significant live-and-let-live philosophy. There are many immigrant communities, as well as well mixed neighborhoods. In addition to the oil and gas business, there are many other industries, all of which are probably looking for your skills. The city is among the fastest growing in the country for that reason. Property prices are not New York or California levels by any measure. The city is sprawling and ugly, but the weather is warm and sunny much of the time. There are a number of universities, many with regularly increasing enrollments. British accents are a plus.

See if you can find information from the Sikh community in Houston about general acceptance levels.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:18 AM on April 3, 2015

GuyZero, the Bay Area certainly does have weather. And, it depends on where in the Bay Area you are. August in SF can be cold and damp. While in Oakland it can me quite warm.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:35 AM on April 3, 2015

I was pretty much in your situation in Australia - I got fed up of being pushed out even in radical activist circles. I moved out to the Bay Area (and am still here), and what I have noticed as a huge difference is that while racism is still a problem here, there is a larger cultural consciousness around racism in the Bay Area and USA more generally that Australia does not have. Australia is stuck in "but are we really racist?!" and "we don't want to alienate white people!" mode, which does fuck all for racial minorities there; the US at least is open to more discussion and analysis.

That said, having lived in three different countries (Malaysia, Australia, USA) and having been a racial minority each and every time, I'd be hardpressed to say that there will be a country that will automatically be guaranteed to accept you. My parents are from Bangladesh and yet when I go back there I feel more Foreign than ever! And sometimes it's the luck of the draw, the circumstances of the people you end up interacting with - in Brisbane AU I was one of a small handful of non-White people in my various radical/activist/queermo circles, which was tiresome, but in the Bay Area I've even managed to find Bengali community of all things.

Good luck!
posted by divabat at 1:50 AM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, Yes, come to Canada! Both Toronto and Vancouver are great tech cities, with options for giant houses in the suburbs or smaller ones in the city. You'll feel totally welcome, we'd love to have you. People will be fairly impressed by your degrees and experience and half the people speak with an accent anyway. It is more difficult to make really big money like in the US because there are more taxes and regulations and economy of scale is smaller but people do make it. Canadian dream is alive and well and its a great place to live. We do not expect everyone here to be extroverts all the time. I would hazard that Toronto has perhaps some of the best collection of universities without it being a university town, but of course everybody has their own definition of "best."

The suggestions of waterloo, calgary and ottawa are also pretty good, but they're much smaller cities and either colder, snowier or more remote. Montreal is a fun place to visit, but perhaps too french for your requirements. All of these places have great parks and wide open spaces. I would suggest that if you can afford it, you take up the great canadian pastime of "cottaging" and purchase a second summer home outside of the city for weekends for fun outdoor activities and relaxation.
posted by captaincrouton at 7:30 AM on April 5, 2015

I don't think you should go to any city that describes itself as a "melting pot." It is not your intention to melt, as I understand it, so a place where that's the expected thing probably isn't a good fit. You're looking for places with "mosaic" or "tossed salad" on the city web page, not "melting pot."

Along the same lines, be careful about places that call themselves as "diverse." Some people think "diverse" means "there are many people here who are members of minority groups" but that doesn't mean the place is diverse: It could be that the majority of the population is one minority group, or that there is a non-majority but large population of one minority group. Diversity means lots of different ethnic groups and the population spread as evenly among them as possible. Unless the minority in question is Sikhs, a place that calls itself diverse because there are many Mexicans (in the US) or Italians (largest non-english language in Australia. who knew?), won't necessarily be of much use to you. Look for a place where people are used to seeing lots of different kinds of people, not just "one kind of people who are not like me."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:38 AM on April 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would gently suggest you heed the opinions of people who look like you, rather than people who don't.

White people, in my experience, do not get what it's like to be noticed constantly by other people (unless they have a visible difference).

Completely agree with this - some people giving advice that are like "it's so diverse here!" - being comfortable being "different" is less about seeing other nonwhite faces all around and more about the mindset of people, what people think of X group (for example, lots of Indians are now in the area I grew up in, but it's still white majority and lots of people my Indian American brother interacts with have some kind of vague "oh that's Middle East/Muslim/foreigners" grudge about things. Also agreed that in areas that are largely some sort of nonwhite that is not you, you'll still be a minority and it's not like everyone holds hands and sings about being nonwhite together.

If you can spend some time in the areas on your short list, a few weeks or so, and spend some time doing the things you like to do/have to do, I think it would be helpful. That's helpful advice for anyone making a big move anywhere for any reason, in my opinion.
posted by sweetkid at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

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