Over 850,000 Brits move overseas for a new life elsewhere

10 April 2015

  • Australia the most popular destination with 207,000 moving Down Under in the last 5 years
  • Around two-thirds (66%) of British citizens emigrating since 2009 have indicated they intend to live abroad for more than four years

Over the past five years emigration1 from Britain is estimated to have reached 851,0002, according to latest research from Lloyds Bank Private Banking. However this total figure represents a decline of 10% compared to the previous five years when emigration totalled 942,000 in the period 2004 -08.

In the period since 2009 levels of emigration have remained stable, averaging around 142,000 per year; compared to an annual average of 188,000 in the five years to 2008, peaking at 203,000 in 2006. [See Table 1]

The most recent figures suggest there are 4.7 million3 British citizens living abroad, representing 7.5% of the national population.

Most Brits head Down Under for a new life

Australia has consistently been the most popular destination for British emigrants in the past five years, with 207,000 Britons heading Down Under for a new life since 2009. Other countries in the list of the Top 10 destinations for British emigrants over the past five years include the USA (72,000), Spain (52,000), France (51,000) and New Zealand (43,000). [See Table 2]

With an estimated 4.7 million British expats now living abroad, the countries with the largest British communities are Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain and Ireland.

Employment key factor for expats

British citizens who emigrated from the UK since 2009 have mainly done so to work or to accompany or join someone. In 2013, two out of five (40%) expats moved for work related reasons; this proportion had been as low as 35% at the height of the UK recession in 2009.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents4 in 2013 reported they had a definite job to go to, up from 23% in 2009; while on average one in ten will aim to look for a job.

The top three destinations for British citizens emigrating for a "definite job" were Australia, USA and Spain. For British emigrants looking for work, the main destinations were New Zealand, Australian and Spain.

In 2013 on average, over two out of five (44%) of British citizens moving abroad were professionals, whilst 30% had a clerical/manual working background. Twelve per cent were going to study.

Majority of expats away for the long haul

Around two-thirds (66%) of British citizens emigrating since 2009 have indicated5 they intend to live abroad for more than four years. One in five (20%) intend to be away for up to 1-2 years and seven per cent for more than two and up to four years. The remaining seven per cent were unsure about their intended length of stay.

The proportions of expats saying they intended staying abroad for different lengths of time differed according to their intended destinations. For the top eight destination countries for those emigrating from the UK, almost half (49%) of British citizens migrating to Australia planned to stay for more than four years, slightly more than those planning to stay just one to two years (41%).

Long-term migrants were more common amongst those going to Spain and France, with 70 per cent and 75 per cent respectively of the British citizens emigrating to these two countries reporting they intended to stay for more than four years.

Richard Musty, International Private Bank Director at Lloyds Bank, said:

"There are many different reasons why British citizens have decided to start a new life abroad. It could be a better quality of life for them and their family, retirement or quite simply better weather. These are key drivers when picking the country of next residence, but our research shows that British citizens who emigrated from the UK since 2009 have mainly done so to work. In recent years we have seen a steady stream of people moving overseas looking for employment – with many going with a job offer in place."