Top 15 most popular countries for British expats

15 most popular countries for British expats

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Around 4.2 million Brits have made a life overseas, but which countries do they now call home?

The British are an adventurous bunch with around five million of them living overseas as expats — that’s almost eight percent the UK’s current population, according to the latest UN migrant stock data estimates updated in 2015. From neighbouring Spain to faraway Australia, Brits have found new homes in different countries all over the globe and their numbers continue to rise.

Ranked by the World Bank as one of the top emigration countries in the world, the reasons behind their move vary between the obvious aversion from the infamous Brit climate of cold and rain and broader draws like improved quality of life, better healthcare, slower pace of life and lower cost of living. But where have these led the bulk of British expats to relocate?

Approximately 4.2 million, the UN reported, move to more developed countries, while the rest now reside in developing regions. Some of these destinations are no-brainers due to their year-round sunshine but others are rather surprising. AXA PPP has gathered the top 15 most popular countries that British expats now call home:

1. Australia – 1,289,396 expats

Although half a world away, Australia is the number one choice for Brits not only because of its untamed nature and superb sunshine but also its higher standard of living. The country, which is a part of the Commonwealth, is fairly easy to move to for British citizens and also boasts a good economy, increased disposable income and abundant choice of outdoor activities.

2. USA – 714,999 expats

The Land of the Free appeals to plenty of Brit expats in search of a diverse culture, improved weather and lower taxes. Due to its size and characteristically different states, the US caters to varying lifestyles and employees hoping to work in certain industries. Some coastal cities — like Florida, for example — are popular retirement spots but more and more Brits find themselves moving back to Britain before retiring due to the expensive healthcare system. While not impossible, acquiring an American visa could also be a challenge.

3. Canada – 607,377 expats

Expats flock to the world’s second-largest country for its high quality of life, education and stellar national healthcare system. Canadians’ open-minded outlook on immigration makes it fairly easy to build friendships and integrate with the vibrant local community. The chance to explore Canada’s great outdoors is certainly a draw for Brits but some complain that it’s hard to strike a good work-life balance in the country.

4. South Africa – 318,536 expats

Rare wildlife, pristine beaches, warm climate and one of the lowest costs of living in the African continent as reported in the 2016 Mercer Cost of Living survey, are just some in the long list of items that entice British expats to settle in South Africa. According to figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, over 38,000 Brits residing in the country are receiving UK state pension.

5. Spain – 308,821 expats

Spain is known as one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers but many expats have also chosen to never leave this vacation paradise and now call it their home-away-from-home. The relaxed Spanish lifestyle, low property prices, rich culture and perpetual sun continue to attract Brits but interest in the country has been gradually dwindling due to a poor economy and increased unemployment.

6. New Zealand – 265,014 expats

Picturesque New Zealand sates the daring spirit of any adventurous British expat due to its rolling mountains, stunning landscape and wealth of places for off the beaten path excursions and activities. The country’s better quality of life for children, low crime rates and a government keen to recruit expats also prove to be a huge pull for the thousands of Brits who have now settled in the country. Some, however, complain that New Zealand’s famously expensive cost of living leaves expats with a low disposable income.

7. Ireland – 254,761 expats

Many Brits continue to head to next-door neighbour Ireland due to its proximity, similar language, slower pace of life and breathtaking countryside. While Ireland’s recent financial crisis saw a decline in the number of expats emigrating, the Emerald Isle’s rugged beauty continues to make it a hugely popular choice for the relocating British.

8. France – 185,344 expats

France has always been a prime pick among expats but the presence of the Channel Tunnel bridging the country to the UK has made it even more ideal for Brits who crave a vastly different environment but don’t wish to stray too far from their home country. France’s unique gastronomy, landscape, culture, warmer climate and relatively cheaper housing market (except for some larger cities) interest many British expats — thousands of them even choosing to stay.

9. Germany – 103,352 expats

An increasing number of British expats have found new homes in Germany due to the country’s cheaper property, lower taxes and high employment rates. The country’s spectacular landscapes and cities pulsating with creative energy are also two definite pluses.

10. Italy – 64,986 expats

Italy’s lax Mediterranean lifestyle charms many expats especially older Brits, who can retire in the country on a fraction of the amount they require in the UK. The exquisite landscape, lively social scene, great healthcare and, of course, some of the tastiest food in the world are just a few reason why Italy, despite its high unemployment, is a favourite among British expats.

11. Channel Islands – 59,380 expats

The Channel Islands have long been known as tax havens for the wealthy with its stable economy, lower tax rates, ‘off-shore banking’ and close distance to the UK. Guernsey and Jersey are hubs for finance industry professionals due equally to their tax status, breathtaking surroundings and similar cost of living with the UK.

12. Netherlands – 49,549 expats

The Netherlands might be small but it’s one of the best countries in the world for business — and thousands of British expats recognise this. Highly skilled expats can benefit from a 30 percent tax-free ruling if they meet certain criteria and English is spoken widely by locals. The Dutch are also a relaxed, active and health conscious bunch — aptly so since Oxfam named the Netherlands as the healthiest country globally to eat.

13. Switzerland – 48,058 expats

While Switzerland is known to have the highest cost of living among European countries, sky-high salaries offset this with a quarter of expats earning more than twice the global average. The alpine country also boasts an incredible terrain fit for any outdoor sport, good public transport and healthcare, and a reputation as one of the safest places to live in the world — a sure draw for the thousands of Brit expats residing there.

14. Cyprus – 40,547 expats

A former British colony, Cyprus remains as one of the top destinations for Brit expats. The country’s size lends itself to a ‘small town’ Mediterranean lifestyle highlighted by hot summers, drives through the island’s lush greenery and excursions to ancient monuments. A melting pot due to its Roman, British and Turkish influences, expats with a worldly taste for culture, fusion and entertainment find much to enjoy in Cyprus. Employment opportunities, however, are not as plentiful since the 2013 banking crisis, resulting to some tension with the local population.

15. Isle of Man – 39,052 expats

Only 60 miles west from the UK, it’s no surprise that the Isle of Man is a common choice for many Brit expats. While it maintains close British ties, this self-governing locale has kept its identity as seen through its own laws, traditions, cuisine and even postage stamps. The island has been favoured with political and economic stability for decades and has some of the lowest income tax rates in the developed world — all advantages that expats can also benefit from.

Singapore and United Arab Emirates ranked 14th and 15th place, respectively, in the 2013 UN estimates. Singapore was recorded to be the home of 45,000 British expats while 33,865 resided in the UAE. The 2015 numbers for Singapore have yet to be released while the amount of Brits in the UAE fell to just under 20,000. The Isle of Man in 15th place is currently followed by Bangladesh and Indonesia, where a little over 30,000 British expats now live. 



Expatica / AXA PPP International

Photo Credits: Vicki Burton (thumbnail).

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