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The Top 100 British Expat Destinations


Top 100 Most Popular Expat Destinations

Over 5 million Brits live abroad or about 1 in 10 of the entire British population. Many are posted abroad by their companies. Most are looking for sunnier climates.

Outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, the largest proportions of people of self-identified ethnic British descent in the world are found in New Zealand (59%), Australia (46%) and Canada (31%), followed by a considerably smaller minority in the United States (12%) and parts of the Caribbean.

The estimate of Bristish Americans is a serious undercount as almost 50 million Americans (25% of the population in the 1980 US census) claimed English or part-English ancestry; 20-35 million have Scots, Scots-Irish and Welsh ancestry.[ The British ancestry is most often hidden within the category ‘American.’

Hong Kong has the highest proportion of British citizens outside of the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories, with 47% of Hong Kong residents holding a British National (Overseas) citizenship or a British citizenship.

Top 100 Destinations for Brits Abroad

In 2006, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, published a report on the British diaspora, entitled Brits Abroad. The following table lists the estimated number of British people (defined as people who are British Subjects, such as British citizenBritish National Overseas or British Overseas Citizen) living overseas in countries with more than 100 British people, according to the IPPR’s report .

british expats map

Australia was the clear winner with over 1 million Brits choosing Australia as its home.

In Europe, Spain is the clear winner with three quarters of a million people claiming Spain as their new home.

In North America, it is split evenly, with over 600,00 Brits living in Canada & another 670,000 in the USA.

In Africa, over 200,000 Brits call South Africa home whilst over 55,000 Brits live in Dubai in the Middle East.

Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand & China are fighting for the top spot for British expats living in Asia.

Barbados & Jamaica are the two favourite spots in the Caribbean, followed by Trinidad & Tobago.

South America is not a well travelled spot for Brits with only 11,000 Brits living in Brazil. Argentina & Venezuela take the 2nd & 3rd spots.

Rank Country Number of British residents, 2006 Region(s)
1 Australia 1,300,000 Asia Pacific
2 Spain 761,000 Europe
3 United States 678,000 North America
4 Canada 603,000 North America
5 Ireland 291,000 Europe
6 New Zealand 215,000 Asia Pacific
7 South Africa 212,000 Africa
8 France 200,000 Europe
9 Germany 115,000 Europe
10 Portugal 60,000 Europe
11 Cyprus 59,000 Mid East
12 UAE 55,000 Mid East
13 Pakistan 47,000 Asia
14 Singapore 45,000 Asia Pacific
15 Switzerland 45,000 Europe
16 Israel 44,000 Mid East
17 Netherlands 44,000 Europe
18 Thailand 41,000 Asia Pacific
19 China (including Hong Kong) 36,000note Asia Pacific
20 Turkey 34,000 Eur/Mid East
21 India 32,000 Asia
22 Kenya 29,000 Africa
23 Belgium 28,000 Europe
24 Barbados 27,000 Caribbean
25 Saudi Arabia 26,000 Mid East
26 Italy 26,000 Europe
27 Jamaica 25,000 Caribbean
28 Japan 23,000 Asia Pacific
29 Sweden 18,000 Europe
30 Greece 18,000 Europe
31 Nigeria 16,000 Africa
32 Norway 15,000 Europe
33 Egypt 14,000 Africa
34 Philippines 14,000 Asia Pacific
35 Malaysia 13,000 Asia Pacific
36 Trinidad and Tobago 11,000 Caribbean
37 Brazil 11,000 South America
38 Bahrain 11,000 Mid East
39 Gaza & West Bank 11,000 Mid East
40 Indonesia 11,000 Asia Pacific
41 Denmark 11,000 Europe
42 Bangladesh 9,200 Asia
43 Malta 9,000 Europe
44 Mexico 8,500 North America
45 Austria 8,500 Europe
46 Argentina 8,300 South America
47 Qatar 8,100 Mid East
48 Oman 7,800 Mid East
49 Malawi 7,400 Africa
50 Venezuela 7,200 South America
51 Jordan 7,200 Mid East
52 Kuwait 7,100 Mid East
53 Czech Republic 6,800 Europe
54 Brunei 6,400 Asia Pacific
55 Macao 6,300 Asia Pacific
56 Zimbabwe 6,100 Africa
57 Russia 6,100 Europe
58 Ghana 5,900 Africa
59 Zambia 5,800 Africa
60 Poland 5,600 Europe
61 Tanzania 5,500 Africa
62 Luxembourg 5,500 Europe
63 Chile 5,200 South America
64 Hungary 5,200 Europe
65 Botswana 5,000 Africa
66 Costa Rica 4,800 North America
67 Peru 4,600 South America
68 Romania 4,500 Europe
69 Sri Lanka 4,400 Asia
70 Bahamas 4,100 Caribbean
71 Vietnam 3,800 Asia Pacific
72 Colombia 3,600 South America
73 Libya 3,600 Africa
74 Gibraltar 3,600 Europe
75 Yemen 3,400 Mid East
76 South Korea 3,400 Asia Pacific
77 Iran 2,900 Mid East
78 Antigua/Barbuda 2,800 Caribbean
79 Finland 2,800 Europe
80 Nepal 2,700 Asia
81 Grenada 2,500 Caribbean
82 Uganda 2,500 Africa
83 Ecuador 2,400 South America
84 Morocco 2,400 Africa
85 Azerbaijan 2,400 Europe
86 Swaziland 2,300 Africa
87 Guyana 2,200 South America
88 Lebanon 2,200 Mid East
89 Syria 2,200 Mid East
90 Belize 2,000 North America
91 Sierra Leone 2,000 Africa
92 Iraq 2,000 Mid East
93 Guatemala 1,900 North America
94 Dominica 1,800 Caribbean
95 Netherlands Antilles 1,800 Caribbean
96 Seychelles 1,800 Africa
97 Namibia 1,700 Africa
98 Mauritania 1,600 Africa
99 Serbia-Montenegro 1,600 Europe
100 St Lucia 1,500 Caribbean

What is a Typical British Expat?

Internations did a survey on British expats and here is what they found:

The average British expat doesn’t shy away from new beginnings: from length of stay to friendships with local residents and ease in feeling at home, results are generally far above average.

  • 51% are not likely to return to the UK
  • British expats are on average 53 years old
  • 3% of British expats are independently wealthy
  • A quarter of British expats are retirees
  • 24% are mostly friends with local residents
  • 72% are in a relationship
  • 43% earn more abroad than at home
  • 8 out of 10 Brits are happier living abroad

Brits Love Living Abroad

Perhaps most impressive is that 37% of British expats from the have been living abroad in their host country for more than ten years — more than ten percentage points above the global average of 24%.

Brits are also more than ten percentage points more likely to feel at home in their new country: three-quarters say they feel at home, compared to only 64% of all survey respondents.

Since so many British expats report feeling at home, it seems hardly surprising that exactly half plan to stay forever (vs. 32% globally). Likewise, more than half (51%) say that it’s not likely they will ever return home to the UK. The British expat is also more satisfied than the average expat: nearly one in five (19%) even say that moving for a better quality of life was a main priority (vs. only 10% globally).

British Expats in Europe

Top 20 Destinations for British Expats in Europe

Spain takes the top spot followed by Ireland, France, Germany & Portugal.

Rank Country Number of British residents, 2006 Region(s)
2 Spain 761,000 Europe
5 Ireland 291,000 Europe
8 France 200,000 Europe
9 Germany 115,000 Europe
10 Portugal 60,000 Europe
15 Switzerland 45,000 Europe
17 Netherlands 44,000 Europe
23 Belgium 28,000 Europe
26 Italy 26,000 Europe
29 Sweden 18,000 Europe
30 Greece 18,000 Europe
32 Norway 15,000 Europe
41 Denmark 11,000 Europe
43 Malta 9,000 Europe
45 Austria 8,500 Europe
53 Czech Republic 6,800 Europe
57 Russia 6,100 Europe
60 Poland 5,600 Europe
62 Luxembourg 5,500 Europe
64 Hungary 5,200 Europe
68 Romania 4,500 Europe
74 Gibraltar 3,600 Europe
79 Finland 2,800 Europe
85 Azerbaijan 2,400 Europe
99 Serbia-Montenegro 1,600 Europe
113 Macedonia 950 Europe
115 Iceland 940 Europe
118 Ukraine 900 Europe
119 Croatia 890 Europe
121 Bulgaria 800 Europe
123 Estonia 750 Europe
125 Slovakia 740 Europe
130 Bosnia-Herzegovina 540 Europe
137 Latvia 370 Europe
141 Slovenia 330 Europe
142 Monaco 320 Europe
145 Lithuania 290 Europe
149 Andorra 210 Europe
151 Georgia 200 Europe
153 Albania 190 Europe

How Many British Expats Live in the EU?

1.3 million people born in the UK live in other EU countries, according to 2017 estimates from the United Nations (UN). Around 900,000 UK citizens were long-term residents in other EU countries in 2010 and 2011, according to census data across the EU collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In 2013/14 the UK spent £1.4 billion on state pension payments to recipients living elsewhere in the European Union.

Concerns for British expats living in EU countries

For them, healthcare, pensions, work permit, and free travel in the EU will probably be affected. These issues are currently regulated by EU laws, all based on the fact that EU citizens have the right to reside in any EU country of their choice. Once British expats cease to be EU citizens, their rights will need to be renegotiated.

Currently, EU partners charge the NHS for the costs of treating British pensioners. In 2013/14 the UK paid £580 million to other EEA countries for the treatment of British pensioners resident in the EEA while it received just £12 million from other EEA countries in the same year for the treatment of EEA pensioners in the UK

What Do Europeans Think of Britain Leaving the EU

In the picture below, you can see Europeans’ opinions of whether Britain should leave the EU… it is a resounding no, with the notable exception being the French.

brexit eu opinion

What will happen to British expats living in EU countries?

Thanks to the Vienna Convention of 1969, which states that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination”, British expats already residing in other EU member countries will probably retain their right to do so.

British people who want to move to, work or retire in EU countries after Brexit actually happens will probably also be able to do so. However, as they will already be third-country citizens, administrative procedures for this might become more complicated for them than it is now. For example, obtaining visas will become a lot more troublesome.

The same might be true for EU citizens currently living in, or planning to move to the UK.

Financial Planning for British Expats

Whether you are trying to move to Europe before Brexit or moving elsewhere in the wold, you will need help with financial planning.

Some of the things you will need to think about:

  • Setting up a new bank account in your new country
  • Transferring money abroad and getting the best exchange rates
  • Selling your house in the UK or renting it out & the tax consequences
  • Keeping your state pension up-to-date with direct debit
  • Moving your pensions abroad if possible
  • Getting health insurance if you aren’t covered abroad
  • Getting life insurance if you are getting a new mortgage overseas or to cover your kids in case of an early demise
  • Reorganising your investments into a more tax efficient environment
  • Protecting your wealth with trusts or insurance wrappers

Please contact us if you want to speak to a specialist who can help guide you in the right direction.

The Top 100 British Expat Destinations by