expat network

1.6 Million Britons Go Expat In A Decade

Since 2006, emigration from Britain is estimated to have reached 1.65 million. But the number of Britons moving abroad has slowed down over the past decade.

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of Britons leaving the country averaged 162,667 a year, according to latest research from Lloyds Private Banking. Since 2012, this average has dropped by nearly a fifth to 134,400 per year. The annual level of emigration has fallen by over a third from 207,000 in 2006 to 134,000 in 2016 – the second lowest annual total in the past decade.

The most recent estimates suggest there are 4.92 million British citizens living abroad – equivalent to 7.5% of the current national population.

Australia, Spain, USA, France and New Zealand are the top five most popular destinations attracting a combined 900,000 since 2005.

Australia has consistently been the most popular destination for the British with 385,000 heading Down Under for a new life. The next most popular are Spain (144,000), the USA (132,000), France (129,000) and New Zealand (94,000).

New Country of Residence British Citizens Moving 2005 to 2015
Australia 385,000
Spain 144,000
USA 132,000
France 129,000
New Zealand 94,000
Canada 70,000
United Arab Emirates 61,000
Germany 49,000
Republic of Ireland 20,000
Switzerland 19,000

Source: International Passenger Survey (IPS) – ONS


Over half of British citizens who emigrated from the UK in the past decade have done so mainly for work-related reasons. Three-quarters of these had a definite job offer while a quarter were still looking for a job.

In 2015, the USA, Australia, France, Italy, India and Spain were the leading destinations for British citizens emigrating for a ‘definite job’, accounting for 43% of total jobs.

Around two-thirds of British citizens emigrating since 2006 have indicated they intend to live abroad for more than four years. One in five intend to be away for up to two years and 8% for between two and four years. The remaining 7% were unsure about their intended length of stay.

Perhaps unsurprisingly interest in moving abroad is greater in the summer. Internet searches and posts about moving abroad peak in the summer months (June – July) followed by the New Year (January). Most searches and posts relate to the cultural change of moving abroad – what’s it like to live and work there – followed by questions about finances.