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The Top Reasons Why Expats Leave the UK

The British Isles have the 8th highest level of expatriation anywhere in the world. Every day, roughly 400 Brits leave our shores to begin a new life abroad. The total number of Brits living as expats is now estimated to be 5.5 million worldwide. In other words, there are an awful lot of Brits scattered all around the world. The obvious questions when it comes to UK expats is where they’re going, why they’re choosing to leave and how long they’re planning to spend abroad.

Luckily, thanks to the wealth of information provided by the UK government we’re now able to draw some conclusions about British expats and aim to answer all three of these questions.

Where Are British Expats Going?

The most popular destination for British expats by a long way is Australia, boasting 1.2 million Brits at present. While numerous employment opportunities exist for people with the right skills, more often than not Brits move to Australia for the quality of life – the beaches, the climate and the outdoor lifestyle.

Hot on their heels are the USA with 700,000 and Canada only just behind with 675,000 expats. Other popular destinations for Brits leaving home shores include New Zealand, France, Spain and Germany. That said, all those countries added together can’t boast as many expats as Australia alone, which just goes to show how prominent it is in our minds.

Why Are British Expats Leaving?

It’s all too easy to assume that expats only leave their home country to escape some kind of problem – such as the weather – that they’d rather not deal with day in, day out. However the research suggests that Brits are more likely to leave the UK for something more than to escape from something less pleasant.

The most popular reason for leaving the UK – accounting for 40% of all British expats – is leaving to accept a definite job offer in another country. As we have seen in the past, expats often receive a ‘premium’ and are paid more than local workers, making such a move more profitable.

There are of course other reasons for moving abroad. For example the second most common reason for moving abroad is to join someone else who is already there. Based on the recent statistics, fully 23% of British expats leave their home turf for this reason while 18% leave the UK to speculatively seek work.

Surprisingly only 4% of expats leave for formal study, which can be one of the best possible routes to permanent or semi-permanent residency in a new country.

When Are British Expats Coming Home?

The last question posed was whether British expats are heading abroad for a short period of time or whether they’re planning to stay for longer. As it turns out, the length of stay depends significantly on which country expats are moving to.

Expats leaving for the USA expect to spend the least amount of time in their adopted country. In contrast, half of all Brits in Australia plan to stay there for four years or more. The figures are even greater for Canada (58%), Spain (70%) and France (75%).

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