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Strong pound and booming house prices help Brits move abroad

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr)

More than 198,000 British nationals moved overseas last year, bringing the total number of Brits abroad to more than 5.5 million, according to new research from the Institute for Public Policy Research, published on 11 December 2006. The report says that a strong economy at home has encouraged emigration and that very few Britons leave because they think the country has “gone to the dogs”.

ippr’s report shows that almost one in ten Britons now lives abroad and that a British national emigrates every three minutes. The report predicts that another one million Brits will move abroad over the next five years.

The report shows that Britain has more people living abroad than almost any other country. The top 10 countries where Brits live, together accounting for around 75 per cent of all Brits living abroad, are:

  • Australia 1.3 million, equivalent to 2 per cent of UK population
  • Spain 760,000
  • USA 680,000
  • Canada 600,000
  • Ireland 290,000
  • New Zealand 215,000
  • South Africa 212,000
  • France 200,000
  • Germany 115,000
  • Cyprus 59,000

The report says that Brits living abroad are also more spread out than any other nationals, with more than 10,000 Brits living in 41 countries around the world and another 71 countries with more than 1,000 Brits.

The report, which includes results from focus groups with Brits living abroad, identifies the inability to speak the local language as one of the biggest barrier to settling into an overseas community. The report highlights the difference between retired Brits living on the Costa del Sol where fewer than one out of four speak Spanish, compared to retired Brits in Tuscany where almost three out of four speak Italian. Brits in countries like Spain and Saudi Arabia also tend to flock together, in contrast to countries like Australia and the USA where they tend to be more dispersed across the country.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Associate Director of ippr, said:

“When the going is good, Brits get going. A healthy economy at home, especially when house prices are buoyant and the pound is strong, makes it easier to up sticks and move abroad. From Australia to Zambia, Brits are looking for a better job, a better quality of life or a sunny retirement. Very few leave because they think the country has ‘gone to the dogs’.

“Britain does not just have the world’s leading financial centre and the busiest international airport but is truly at the crossroads of the global movement of people. But our research also shows that for some emigrants, being ill-prepared or not knowing the local language can cloud their experience of a place in the sun.”

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