If you’re contemplating a move abroad but aren’t quite sure where you want to go, this article could help you make your mind up. While there are plenty of destinations out there for the potential UK expat, some really take the biscuit when it comes to popularity – for good reason.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most popular emigration destinations from around the world, including tried-and-tested locations as well as those you might not immediately consider.
The land Down Under has long been a favourite of UK expats, with the prospect of blazing sunshine and the laid-back Australian lifestyle attracting people year-on-year.
Australia scores a lot of points when it comes to ease of settling in. Along with barely-present language barriers and good job opportunities, it’s also considered an excellent place to raise a family.
Australia’s biggest and most populous cities are Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in the east, and Perth on the west coast.
Melbourne has won the ‘Most Livable City’ award six years in a row and according to Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, the city is only going to get better;
‘We do not take this title for granted and are constantly planning and implementing policies that will continue to improve our quality of life’.
Australia has recently unveiled measures to crack down on foreign home buyers, but these are mostly aimed at investors so expats shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting on the property ladder if they plan a long-term move Down Under.
With fifty states to choose from, the US has plenty to offer anyone looking for a new home.
Whether you’re attracted to huge cities like New York and Los Angeles, or massive national parks like Glacier Bay and Yellowstone, you’ll find something to suit.
Those looking for a desert residence can check out southwestern states like Nevada or New Mexico, while eastern states like Maine and Massachusetts offer cool coastlines and rocky shores. If you want to hunker down in a snowy cabin, the state of Alaska could be a good choice, while Florida has hundreds of miles of beaches to attract families or prospective retirees.
The US is historically a land of opportunity, so taking a trip ‘across the pond’ could well pay off.
Like Australia, Spain’s comparatively high temperatures and gorgeous coastlines have long attracted UK expats, stereotypically to the Costa del Sol region in the south.
In recent decades, however, UK expats have branched out from the south coast, settling down in areas like Madrid and Spain’s Mediterranean islands. Expat populations are also rising in the eastern region of Catalonia, which borders France and offers breathtaking views of the Pyrenees mountain range.
With a different language and different working practices, there may be some small barriers to emigrating to Spain, but the nation has well-established UK communities ready to welcome you.
Sticking with continental Europe, France is a similarly popular spot for UK expats. Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports from 2015 put the number of UK citizens living in France at over 170,000.
Aside from the fine cuisine and ubiquitous wineries, France is also attractive to expats for its working conditions, where 35 hours is the maximum working week (anything above this counts as overtime). This aspect of French life could change in the future to boost France’s competitiveness, but for now it remains a clear draw to those working professionals looking to escape the UK’s average 48 hour weeks.
France elected new president Emmanuel Macron in 2017. Macron is seen as an energetic centrist candidate. This could lead to an economic boom within the country – good news for both locals and the expat population.
If we swing back across the Atlantic to another (partially) French-speaking country, we come to Canada.
With hugely diverse regions, Canada offers unique environmental features like frequent snowfall and vast tracks of wilderness. If you’re particularly fluent in French then the region of Quebec could be for you, while if you’d like to stay as close to the UK as possible then you might want to settle for the island of Newfoundland on the east coast.
The Canadian housing market is currently dealing with something of a property bubble; this is most keenly felt in large cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. While this might put you off settling down in Canada, it’s worth remembering that there are still plenty of more affordable properties in smaller towns.
At the cost of maybe a few hours’ drive into a major city, these smaller settlements can offer postcard views, easy access to outdoor pursuits and a true sense of Canadian community.
If you’re reluctant to leave the UK too far behind, Ireland could be the emigration destination for you.
The capital of Dublin has a strong literary history and cultural scene, as well as being a few hours’ drive away from Northern Ireland if you’re feeling homesick for the UK.
On average, Ireland can have more annual rainfall than the UK. The distribution is usually greatest on the west coast, getting less frequent as you travel further east.
Ireland ranks well in quality of life indexes and due to emigration out of the country in the 20th century, there’s an abundance of affordable housing in some areas.
Another of the UK’s EU neighbours and a popular candidate for expat emigration is Germany.
As with Spain, Germany has well integrated expat communities, with the Toytown Germany site serving as an online hub for English speakers across the country.
The German workplace can be seen as more restrictive to a prospective jobseeker heading over from the UK, but by comparison the average cost of living is lower once you do find employment.
Places to settle down are not just limited to large cities like Berlin and Munich. There are clusters of cities in the west stretching from Dortmund to Bonn and their proximity to borders with the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg mean they’re well positioned for a bit of exploration.
Portugal has a bevy of craggy coastlines, white beaches and quiet country areas to visit, as well as offering a faster pace of life in key cities like Lisbon and Porto.
Portuguese territory actually extends into the Atlantic Ocean, comprising the two archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. These island clusters both have sizable populations, and flights usually leave daily for Europe and weekly for North American locations.
If you have a grasp of the Spanish language, learning Portuguese should come quite easily as both languages share common features. This doesn’t mean that words translate directly over, however, so asking for something Barata (or cheap) in Spanish might see you directed to a cockroach in Portuguese!
Last but by no means least on the most popular destinations for UK expats list is the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, found close to Turkey.
Despite being closer to the Middle East than Europe, Cyprus is still part of the EU. The island was previously a British colony, but has since split into the Republic of Cyprus in the south west and Turkish-controlled ‘North Cyprus’ in the north east. In recent decades, the two sides have undergone a loosening of borders and reunification talks have begun.
Being a Mediterranean nation through-and-through, Cyprus’ cuisine is a delicious blend of eastern and western dishes, with the famous halloumi cheese being served alongside treats like stuffed vine leaves and Koubes, potato-shaped croquets packed with meats and spices.
Cyprus occupies a unique place in the list of possible emigration locations, as from it one can embark on trips to the Greek islands, to exotic Egypt or back into Eastern Europe, before returning home to a luxurious Cypriot villa.
This concludes our run-down of the most popular destinations for UK expats. We hope it’s left you feeling inspired as you plan your move abroad!
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