Escape From The UK: 5 Alternative Destinations To Avoid Other Brits
Just a few months after the end of the Brexit transition period, Smart Currency Exchange clients tell us they’re as keen as ever to experience life outside the UK. Indeed with millions of us working from home for the foreseeable future, many are wondering if they can do so far beyond British shores.
According to UN data, countries like Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand continue to be top choice for a move later in 2021 or early 2022. However, we see huge – and increasing – interest in new and different countries too.
So, for those looking to avoid any hint of “Little England” and who never want to see another expat, here are their top 5 places that are possible to move to, but easy to avoid other Britons too!
It’s a bit of a mystery why Turkey isn’t more popular with expats, especially now that the weakened Turkish lira means you get four times – yes FOUR times – more local money for your pounds than five years ago.
That makes both property and the cost of living exceptionally affordable. Turkey is a great option for those seeking a good lifestyle in the sun on a UK pension.
Being outside the EU has other advantages. Residency procedures are simpler than for most countries, yet you’re only a four-hour flight from the UK, with plenty of budget airlines in summer.
So, where to move? Turkey is three times the size of the UK and varies considerably from the western, “turquoise coast” on the Mediterranean, which looks and feels very like Greece or Italy, to Istanbul, the Black Sea coast and eastern border with Georgia, with a more eastern European appearance. You will find very few British expats outside of areas like Cesme, Bodrum and Fethiye on the Mediterranean.
The border area with Syria and Iran is undoubtedly best avoided, tempting though it is to move to a town called Batman.
Fun fact: The Virgin Mary is reputed to have spent Her later days in Ephesus, close to the expat favourite Kusadesi, so if it’s good enough for Her retirement….
If Socrates and Plato, the Parthenon, the nightlife of Mykonos or the picture-postcard beauty of brightly coloured shops and cafes around a Mediterranean harbourside aren’t enough to tempt you to Greece, what about Mamma Mia!?
The appeal of life in Greece has been immortalised for 3,000 years from Homer to The Durrells. And what a lifestyle it can be, set around nearly 230 inhabited islands or in vibrant and exciting cities like Athens and Thessaloniki. It’s the epitome of relaxed island life, where the best things in life are free and the people are kind and friendly.
The most popular islands for Brits are the furthest apart: Corfu on the Italian side, Crete down south almost closer to Africa than Europe, and Rhodes, sitting off the coast of Turkey. So to avoid your countrymen and women, consider less famous (but equally beautiful) islands like Syros in the Cyclades, or the wild interior.
The weather is sensational in the spring and summer, a little on the wet side in the autumn and surprisingly chilly in winter. But that’s all relative: Greece basks in roughly twice the sunshine per year of the UK.
Fun fact: Greece is really keen to have you! As well as being early supporters of vaccine passports, they have low tax schemes for retirees and a golden visa scheme for property investors.
With everyone from Cliff Richard to Wayne Rooney living or owning a home here, can Portugal really be described as getting-away-from-fellow-Brits option? Yes! If you move away from the Algarve, which only covers the most southern 50 kilometres or so.
True, the cities of Lisbon and Porto are expat hubs, but they’re attracting a high-tech elite from all over the world, not just Britain.
Consider the north of the country too. Smaller cities like Braga or Guimaraes are close enough to Porto airport but with more of a traditional flavour. Close too, to Portugal’s Peneda-Geres National Park or the fabulous Atlantic beaches
As for the legalities, it couldn’t be easier. There are both temporary and permanent visas for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, allowing you to stay in the country for 12 months or longer. There are also “golden visas” for those buying a property over €500,000.
Just remember though, when you agree a price of €500,000 for a property in euros, if by the time you come to pay the pound has weakened by as little as 2% you’ll need to find an extra £10,000 in sterling. Yikes!
Fun Fact: Britain and Portugal have been the best of friends since – as any history buff will tell you – 1373, it being the oldest international treaty in the world.
If you love hot weather, hard work and something completely different, consider Singapore.
As one of the most popular countries in the world for expats, Singapore has developed into a truly multicultural society, with four official languages including English.
So… too many Brits? Not really. While there is a longstanding connection with the UK, people come to Singapore from all over the world. After all, it was named by one major survey as the best place to be an expat in the world.
What’s so great about it? It’s clean in every sense of the word, with little corruption or crime as well as no litter. It has low taxation and a can-do business environment, which has led to some of the highest incomes on the planet. Moreover, it’s a hub, the ideal connection between East and West.
Yes, it’s hot and humid, averaging 25-30°C all year, but in the days of wall-to-wall air-con you never need suffer heat if you don’t want to, while it’s just outside the door if you do!
Among the most popular areas to move to are Tiong Bahru, popular for its artsy shops and hip cafes, and Holland Village, popular with families. Tanjong Pagar is more traditionally Singaporean but is also close to the central business district.
Fun fact: Singapore has some of the most stunning parks in the world, including the largest man-made waterfalls in the world such as the 40-metre Rain Vortex, which is inside!
The happiest country in the world, year after year, as measured in the UN’s “World Happiness Report” is, of course… Finland. However, usually close enough in the rankings is Sweden, and the more extensive job opportunities and travel links with Sweden make it easier to move there.
Britain has long links to Sweden, and 1,300 years after we started paying the Vikings “danegeld” to clear off, some 30,000 or so Swedes still live in the UK and a similar number of British people there, more than any other Scandinavian country.
The British should be easy enough to avoid, however, if you stay away from the more cosmopolitan areas of Stockholm.
Most Swedes speak some English but you will have more chance finding a job if you can speak a little Swedish. As you’ll have noted from the Ikea catalogue, the language is besvärlig (a bit tricky…)
Post-Brexit, unless you can rustle up an Irish or other EU passport, you will need a work permit. Towards the top of the government’s skills shortage list are construction jobs such as architects, engineers and building workers.
Fun Fact: Greta Garbo graces the 100 krona banknote, worth about £8.50.