Are you ever sitting at home, sipping a tepid cup of tea, while rain patters against the window and wonder, “What if I lived somewhere else… somewhere sunny, exciting, or just different?” You’re not alone! With the world shrinking faster than a cheap cotton shirt in a hot wash, more and more Britons are swapping their wellies for sandals and pasties for paella, embracing the expat life in lands near and far.
This article is your go-to guide if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of becoming an international man or woman of mystery. We’re exploring the reasons why UK citizens are packing their bags, the top destinations where they’re setting up their new homes, and the crucial factors to consider when making the leap. So, grab a fresh cuppa (or maybe a sangria?), and let’s embark on a virtual journey to discover the best expat destinations for you. Keep reading – your future home might be just a scroll away!
Table of contents
- What is an Expat and what does Expat Life Mean?
- Why Do People Move Abroad from the UK?
- What are the Best Destinations?
- The Breakdown – Our Top 6 Destinations for UK expats
- The Adventure Awaits
What is an Expat and what does Expat Life Mean?
Ever heard the term ‘expat’? It’s shorthand for ‘expatriate’, someone who’s left their home country (in our case, the UK) and set up shop elsewhere. But being an expat is more than just trading grey skies for sunnier climes or swapping fish ‘n chips for foreign delicacies. This leads us to the term ‘expat life’, which is the entire package of experiences that comes with living in a different country.
Imagine this: one day you’re navigating through bustling foreign streets, discovering local customs, and attempting to master a new language. The next, you’re scratching your head in a supermarket aisle, searching in vain for your favourite tea brand. That’s expat life – an exciting, sometimes challenging, always enlightening journey.
While it may sound like a permanent holiday, there’s more to it. Sure, there are new sights, sounds, and tastes to enjoy, but there are also practicalities to contend with, like understanding local laws and setting up a new home. However, it’s through these challenges that we grow, learn, and become part of a global community.
This article aims to provide insights into this journey, exploring why UK citizens choose to become expats, identifying the best expat destinations, and discussing the considerations to bear in mind when planning such a move.
Why Do People Move Abroad from the UK?
Well, it’s not just for the weather, that’s for sure (although it does help)! The reasons why Brits decide to up sticks and move overseas are as varied as the people themselves. Let’s delve into some of the common motivators behind this big leap.
Often, the prospect of advancing one’s career or the offer of a new job can lure people away from the UK. Some industries may have stronger presences in certain countries, offering opportunities that just don’t exist back home.
Quality of Life
From sunnier climates to a more relaxed pace of life, the promise of a lifestyle upgrade can be a powerful draw. Who wouldn’t be tempted by the idea of swapping rainy commutes for beach-side living, right?
When work is done and dusted, many people from the UK dream of retiring somewhere warm and welcoming. A place where the cost of living is lower, and the living is easy.
With world-class universities scattered across the globe, UK students often become expats for the chance to study in a different cultural environment. It’s not just about the degree, but also about the life experiences that come along with studying abroad.
Adventure and Personal Growth
Sometimes, it’s the call of the unknown that beckons people. Living abroad can be a journey of self-discovery, providing opportunities to learn new languages, experience diverse cultures, and broaden one’s horizons.
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has also influenced people’s decisions to move abroad. The changes in regulations, trade, and freedom of movement have prompted some UK citizens to consider establishing residency in EU countries. This move allows them to maintain certain benefits and ties to the European community.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all reason to move abroad. It’s a personal decision, shaped by individual desires, circumstances, and life goals. As diverse as these reasons may be, they all share a common thread: the promise of new experiences and opportunities in uncharted territories.
What are the Best Destinations?
As experts in this area, we put our collective heads together and did the research using information from reputable intergovernmental organisations such as the UN, World Bank and OCED, to name a few, to give us the most accurate findings and help see which nations are indeed the best for those looking to make the move and become expats.
What We Did
In order to find the best list of destinations, we had to decide on a data set. This covered a variety of different variables and aspects that could affect the day-to-day living of the typical expatriate and to explore what can really lead to an improved quality of life.
We felt that a full assessment of popular nations around the world was the best way to go about this; so, we selected 18 countries from around the world, those you’d typically associate with UK expats such as: Spain, Australia and the USA, as well as other locations like Mexico, Brazil and India.
We looked at 11 different data sets in total for the 18 countries, including: GDP per capita, income tax levels, average net incomes, real wages, education ranking, property price to income ratio, crime and unemployment levels, healthcare efficiency, food costs and English proficiency, which measures the level of written and spoken English in each given country. These stats gave us strong indications on a wide range of factors that affect quality of life such as how much disposable income you’d have but also how good social provisions are abroad.
After gathering the data, we then got down into the nitty-gritty of analysing all the stats and seeing which countries stood out and in which areas they performed strongest. We took what we found and compared it against the UK to see what the similarities and differences are between our nation and those overseas, to ultimately find the ideal location for potential UK expats to relocate to, by showing in which areas particular countries would offer a better quality of life than what is experienced in the UK.
Finally, with a combination of these numbers and figures and our thorough research from sources including the OECD, United Nations, World Bank, Bloomberg and more, we ranked the data by the most favourable results to get an overall table. We found some rather interesting outcomes, which show just which country is ideal for prospective UK expats, based on the socioeconomic factors we examined.
What We Found
Before we reveal which country hit the top spot, some of the wider notable information we discovered includes how:
- The USA has the lowest property price to income ratio, making US real estate much more affordable than that of the UK, which has one the highest ratios.
- India’s food is the cheapest, it has the lowest cost of food per head in the average weekly shop throughout the 18 other nations, which equates to £86.62* for a family of four, compared to £174.74* in the UK
- Singapore has the most efficient healthcare and the best education, meaning less waiting times and higher grades than in UK schools
- Norway has the highest GDP per capita and the highest level of English proficiency out of the countries which don’t list English as an official language, with 68% of the population able to effectively read, write and hold a conversation in English
- Ireland overall shares the most similarities to the UK, with similar income, temperature, healthcare and education rankings
So, to find out who came the top of our list, check out our graphic below. Also, should this list also give you any inspiration to set your sights on a new life abroad, remember you can make the most of our expert international removals services from the UK.
The Breakdown – Our Top 6 Destinations for UK expats
In this section, we’ll explore, in detail, the six destinations that we’ve identified as prime candidates for UK expats: Singapore, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the USA, and Norway.
We’ll delve into the unique allure of each country, examining aspects like quality of life, job opportunities, ease of settling in, and how well they cater to British sensibilities (yes, we’re talking about your tea and the occasional craving for a proper roast!). We’ll also touch upon the practicalities, such as visa requirements, cost of living, and healthcare systems, among other factors.
Remember, while many of our metrics are objective, what might be a dream destination for one person could be another’s nightmare, so it’s all about finding the right fit for you. As we journey through each country, think about your personal priorities, lifestyle preferences, and career goals. The goal is to help you find the destination that feels like home away from home. But if you want to find out about the easiest place to move to check out or list.
Singapore, a Cosmopolitan Island City-State
Let’s kick off our global tour with Singapore, a tiny island city-state that packs a significant punch. Known for its stunning skyline, multicultural society, and high standard of living, Singapore is a hotbed for expats, including those from the UK.
Why Move to Singapore – The Pros
One of the significant draws of Singapore is its strong economy and thriving job market, particularly in sectors like finance, technology, and biotech. If you’re a professional in these industries, you might just find your dream job here.
But it’s not all work and no play. Singapore offers a great quality of life, with clean streets, low crime rates, and efficient public transport. Its strategic location in Southeast Asia also makes it perfect for weekend getaways to tropical islands and neighbouring countries.
And for those moments of homesickness? You’ll be comforted by the familiar brands and food items available in local supermarkets, including that quintessential British cuppa!
Why Not Singapore – The Cons
Before you pack your bags, though, let’s talk practicalities. Singapore has a high cost of living, especially when it comes to housing and car ownership. It’s also known for its strict rules and regulations, so you might want to brush up on those to avoid unintentional faux pas.
As for visas, you’ll typically need a job offer to secure a work visa. The good news is that the country’s healthcare system is top-notch. The bad news is that you might want to consider private health insurance for comprehensive coverage.
For more information about moving to Singapore, check out the official guide from the Singapore government.
Canada, the Great White North
Why Move to Canada? – The Pros
Canada. A country known for its friendliness, stunning landscapes, and high quality of life, we see why it’s a top choice for UK expats.
Canada boasts a robust economy with plenty of job opportunities, especially in sectors such as technology, healthcare, and natural resources. It also has a high standard of education and an excellent healthcare system, making it a great choice for families.
The cultural adjustment for UK expats in Canada is typically quite smooth. With English as one of the official languages and a society that values multiculturalism, it’s a welcoming environment for newcomers. Plus, it’s home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural parks, perfect for those who love outdoor activities.
Why Not? – The Cons
That being said, Canada’s not without its challenges. The cost of living can be high in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, especially when it comes to housing.
The immigration process, while transparent, can be lengthy and requires some patience. Also, remember the nickname ‘The Great White North’? Yes, winters in Canada can be brutally cold and long, which might be a turnoff if you’re not a fan of snow and freezing temperatures.
For more detailed information on moving to Canada, you might want to check out this resource from the Canadian government.
Australia, Down Under Delights
Why Move to Australia? – The Pros
How about a trip Down Under? Australia’s unique blend of outdoor lifestyle, warm weather, and robust job market has long made it a favourite destination for UK expats.
Australia’s economy is strong, with significant opportunities in sectors like healthcare, information technology, and mining. The work-life balance is also generally better here, with an emphasis on enjoying the country’s stunning beaches, national parks, and vibrant cities.
Language barriers? Not here. Australians speak English, albeit with a distinctive accent and some charming slang. This, along with cultural similarities and a shared love for sports, makes the transition easier for many Brits.
Why Not? – The Cons
While Australia has plenty to offer, it’s worth considering a few potential downsides. The cost of living can be quite high, especially in cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
The immigration process can be rigorous, with a points-based system that prioritizes certain skills and professions. And while you might enjoy the sunny weather, Australia’s summers can be extremely hot, which might take some getting used to.
For more details on living and working in Australia, the Australian government’s official website is a great place to start.
UAE, Sun, Sand, and Skyscrapers
Why Move to the UAE? – The Pros
Next stop on our expat tour is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a place synonymous with luxury, innovation, and opportunities. The UAE, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has become a hub for UK expats in recent years.
One of the significant advantages of the UAE is the tax-free income, making it a lucrative destination for professionals in sectors like finance, construction, and hospitality. Plus, with its strategic location, it serves as a gateway to travel other parts of the Middle East and Asia.
The UAE is also known for its high standard of living, with state-of-the-art infrastructure, high-quality healthcare, and a plethora of entertainment and leisure options. You’ll also find numerous international schools, making it a good option for families.
Why Not? – The Cons
However, life in the UAE isn’t without its challenges. The cost of living can be high, particularly in terms of accommodation and schooling.
Culturally, the UAE is quite different from the UK, and it might take some time to adjust to local customs and regulations. It’s also worth noting that the summer heat can be extreme, with temperatures often rising above 40 degrees Celsius.
For more details on living and working in the UAE, check out this guide from the British government.
USA, the Land of Opportunity
Why Move to the USA? – The Pros
Let’s journey next to the USA, often referred to as the “Land of Opportunity”. With its diverse culture, vast landscapes, and dynamic job market, it’s no wonder the USA is a popular choice for UK expats.
The USA is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and offers plentiful opportunities in sectors like technology, healthcare, and finance. The country’s size and diversity mean you have a wide range of choices when it comes to lifestyle, whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of New York City, the sunny beaches of California, or the cultural richness of the South.
English is the primary language in the USA, making communication and integration easier for UK expats. And with a shared language comes shared media, so you’ll find plenty of familiar TV shows, films, and music.
Why Not? – The Cons
However, there are some challenges to consider. The cost of living can vary greatly depending on where you choose to settle. Cities like San Francisco and New York are among the most expensive in the world.
While healthcare services in the USA are top-notch, the healthcare system can be complex and costly, so you’ll want to ensure you have comprehensive health insurance. The immigration process can also be challenging, with stringent requirements for work visas.
For more information about moving to the USA, the US government’s official website is a useful resource.
Norway, Nordic Charm
Why Move to Norway? – The Pros
Finally, we venture to the North, to the land of fjords and Northern Lights – Norway. This Nordic country offers an exceptional quality of life and is increasingly attracting UK expats with its unique blend of natural beauty, societal values, and job opportunities.
Norway consistently ranks high on global happiness and quality of life indices, thanks to its excellent welfare system, work-life balance, and focus on sustainability. Job opportunities are plentiful, particularly in sectors like energy, technology, and marine science.
English proficiency is high in Norway, easing the language barrier for UK expats. Moreover, Norway’s outdoor lifestyle – think hiking, skiing, and fishing – and its safe, family-friendly environment make it a great place to raise a family.
Why Not? – The Cons
While Norway has much to offer, there are a few potential challenges. The cost of living is high, reflecting the country’s high standard of living. Winters can be harsh, particularly in the North, and the shorter daylight hours might take some getting used to.
Moreover, while many Norwegians speak English, learning Norwegian will significantly enhance your integration into the community and might be required for certain job opportunities.
For more information on living in Norway, you can refer to the Norwegian government’s official immigration website.
The Adventure Awaits
And there we have it – a whirlwind tour of some of the best destinations for UK expats, from the bustling city-state of Singapore to the rugged beauty of Norway. We’ve also delved into what life as an expat entails, why people decide to take the leap, and crucial factors to consider when planning a move abroad.
Remember, embarking on an expat journey is more than just a change of address – it’s about embracing a new culture, adapting to different ways of life, and seizing opportunities for personal and professional growth. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping into a world of new experiences.
In the end, the best destination for you will depend on your individual circumstances, career goals, lifestyle preferences, and perhaps a bit of wanderlust. The world is your oyster, as they say, and moving abroad might just be the pearl you’re after. So, do your research, plan ahead, and embrace the adventure that awaits. Happy travels!