7 Top Countries for UK Expats to move to in 2020

There can be serval reasons British citizens choose to pack up their life in the UK and emigrate abroad. Whether it’s to improve the quality of their family’s life, reduce the cost of living, relocate for work or simply fancied a change of scenery, migrating overseas is a popular choice amongst the UK population. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 397,000 people emigrated from the UK in 2019 alone – that’s over 1,000 people a day!

So, what are the countries that are seeing the highest level of migration from UK expats and why?


Top of our list is the land down under – notorious for its endless summers. UK expats moving to Australia are drawn to the warmer climate, friendly Aussie culture and the work-life-balance.

Moving to Australia: UK expat trends

In 2017, Australia topped the charts as the most popular relocation destination for Brits, with over 1.3m UK migrants. Over the past three years a steady number of families and partners are wanting to move to live the winter sun dream, thanks to the highly rated education system, salary attraction and the retirement hotspot.

Best places for expats in Australia

There are so many great destinations for UK expats in Australia. If you’re emigrating with your family, Canberra is a good choice thanks to its small-town feel and affordable property. Perth is renowned for its UK expat community due to its warmer climate and scenic views. Career orientated individuals tend to opt for Sydney or Melbourne because of the job opportunities available. 


Spain has always been a prime location for UK migration; home to beautiful beaches and first class healthcare. The property buying procedure is not as expensive and is less hassle than in the UK and the cost-effective way of living comes without the culture shock – plus, afternoon naps or siestas are the norm.

Moving to Spain: UK expat trends

Property purchases by Brits have risen by 13% since 2016, with 7,613 purchases in the first six months of 2018. We’ve seen a slight fall in UK expats moving to Spain between 2016 and 2017 due to the impact of the Brexit referendum, but numbers have been on the rise since 2018.

Best places to live in Spain

Popular places to emigrate to in Spain for UK expats are Alicante (Costa Blanca) or Malaga (Costa del Sol) – both regions are renowned for their stunning scenery, noticeably warmer climate and English speaking locals.


Canada was ranked 3rd on the Expat Explorer Survey, scoring high for its education, level of disposable income, economic stability, welcoming communities and quality of life. Between 6,000 – 9,000 UK expats move to Canada each year, making it one of the most popular destinations for migration.

Moving to Canada: UK expat trends

There’s been a spike in UK residents moving to Canada since the 2016 referendum, with over 620,000 migrants moving there in 2017. Now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced their plans to move to Canada, we can only predict that this destination will continue to rise in popularity.

Best places for expats in Canada

Canada has many hotspots for UK expats, depending on the reason for emigrating. Vancouver is a popular option for rural and scenic views. Toronto has a diverse and international community with great career prospects, whereas Montreal has a fantastic work-life balance and affordable property markets.   

New Zealand

Despite New Zealand being the adventure capital of the world, UK expats are drawn to the more relaxed way of the Kiwi life, ranking the 5th best place on Expat Explorer Survey for expats to move to. Did you know that there are so many great job opportunities in New Zealand? Trades are high in demand and are often paid better than the UK too.

Moving to New Zealand: UK expat trends

Net migration by Brits reached over 6,000 in 2017, almost double the figures of 2015. There’s a yoyo effect of people moving to New Zealand since then, with the number of new migrants each month decreasing in May-July each year, with the peak time for emigrating being around January.

Best places for expats in New Zealand

Auckland is a popular city for expats; a vibrant city that’s great for families thanks to its safety, stability and diverse culture along with a world class education system. Other popular destinations include Queenstown, Napier and Rotorua.


France has one of the largest British-born populations. Pros of immigrating to France include the divine wining and dining, the excellent education system that offers after-school support and the proven property markets. There’s a healthy work-life balance – the working week is only 35 hours, leisurely lunch breaks are a must, and there’s an average of 5 weeks paid holiday.  

Moving to France: UK expat trends

In 2017, there was an estimated 190,000 Brits living in France. Over the past three years there’s been a huge increase in people moving to France from the UK, desperate to relocate ahead of the Brexit deadline. Britons still represent the largest portion of overseas buyers in the French property market, accounting for 26% of international sales in 2018.

Best places to live in France

In demand places to live in France are Paris and the South of France. Paris is one of the most iconic cities in the world, with infamous building structures and scenic locations, coupled with accessible transport links. The South of France boasts 300 days of sunlight a year, offering a change of lifestyle and increased quality of life. If you’re looking for a location out of the ordinary, some of the best places for UK expats to live in France are Lyon for more cost-effective living and stunning scenery; Montpellier, for its thriving expat community and job opportunities; Bordeaux, for a laid back and relaxed lifestyle; or Pau, thanks to its outdoor vibe and accessibility to activities such as hiking and skiing.  


Immigrating to the USA to live the American dream is something that appeals to many UK expats. Home to one of the world’s biggest economies, the USA has one of the largest career markets for professionals looking to progress. By moving to America, UK expats seek to increase their living standard.

Moving to America: UK expat trends

Around 1.3million UK expats live in the USA and Canada, with around 24% of these expats being retired. However, despite America being overly popular with UK expats seeking a better quality of life, it isn’t uncommon for expats to move back before retirement due to healthcare expenses and taxes.

Best places to live in America

Denver is popular for business-minded people. If you’re looking for affordable property, quality of life and tropical weather, Kissimmee in Florida is a worth researching. Of course, we can’t forget New York; the vibrant city that never sleeps, renowned for its stock market and career prospects. San Francisco is also popular thanks to its financial stability, low unemployment rate and high average salary (of around $74,841).

United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai

As well as the year-long sunshine, one of the most attractive elements of emigrating to UAE and Dubai is that all earnings are tax free (make sure your check tax residency to maximise this). Living and working in cities like Dubai is a great way to fast track your career with the vast amount of professional opportunities available. The vibrant business economies are always after English-speaking employees to work in their companies.

Moving to UAE: UK expat trends

There are between 100,000-200,000 UK expats living in UAE. 41% of Brits move there to improve their quality of life. Despite there being a slight decline in people wanting to move to Dubai and UAE over the past year or so mainly because of Brexit uncertainty, there’s no doubt that they’ll be a rise in the next year thanks to the benefits living in UAE and Dubai brings.

How to prepare your finances when moving abroad

When emigrating from the UK, you’ll need to transfer your funds into a bank account in the country you’re relocating to. However, this can cost you considerably more than you originally anticipated.  Using a high street bank to send your savings abroad to fund your emigration can cost anything from hundreds to thousands of pounds in additional fees.

Foreign exchange providers, such as RationalFX, offer a cost-effective, secure and simple solution to help UK expats to reduce costs and make their money go further. RationalFX offer competitive exchange rates, no hidden fees or charges and a personalised service to ensure expats get the most out of their hard-earnt money.

Foreign exchange providers, such as RationalFX, offer a cost-effective, secure and simple solution to help UK expats to reduce costs and make their money go further. We offer competitive exchange rates, no hidden fees or charges and a personalised service to ensure expats get the most out of their hard-earnt money.To find out how much you can save on your money transfers when emigrating, visit the ‘Emigrating or Moving Overseas’ section of our website, open a free account with us to access our fx exchange rates our give our private desk a call on (+44) 020 7220 8167.