Financial News

Top 10 British Expat Sunshine Destinations Outside Europe

Thousands of British expats have seen European countries like Spain and France as their top sunshine destinations, but Brexit has changed all that.

While Britain was in the European Union, settling on the continent was as simple as packing up and jumping on a plan or a ferry.

Now trips are limited to 90 days in every rolling 180 days and applying for residence involves a lot of time and red-tape.

Lots of other countries popular with British expats have similar residence rules and now offer the same benefits as moving to Europe even though they are further afield.

Here, iExpats looks at the top 10 sunshine destinations for expats outside Europe…

10. The Philippines

British expat population: 14,000

Flying time from London:  16 hours 40 minutes

The Philippines is a country of contrasts, from the bustling cities to soaring mountains and white sand beaches edged by coral reefs and warm, blue tropical seas.

Even though the 7,600 islands that make up The Philippines are home to more than 108 million people, there’s still plenty of open space away from the main population centres.

The climate is hot and humid with summer from March to May, a rainy season from June to November and a cool, dry season back to March. Temperatures average 70° C to 90° C. 

The Philippines also sits on the Pacific’s typhoon belt and is hit by 15-20 heavy storms each year during the rainy season.

The people are friendly, with little crime outside the cities. Many Filipinos speak English.

The cost of living is much cheaper than Europe and the UK, while the health service is mostly free although the country has an excellent world-class private health service with many expats covered by insurance.

More about living in The Philippines

Retirement visa

Expats can only apply for a retirement visa once they have entered The Philippines on a tourist visa.

To gain the visa, they must deposit cash in an approved bank according to age and if they have a pension:

50 plus$800 a month$10,000
35 – 49None$50,000
Source: Philippines Immigration Bureau

With a retirement visa, expats can enter and leave the Philippines whenever they wish and stay in the country indefinitely.

Special Investor Resident Visa (SIRV)

This visa requires expats to invest $75,000 in approved economic activities in The Philippines. While the money is invested, expats can live in the country for as long as they wish.

More about the Special Investor Resident Visa

Work Visas

The Philippines has several work visas depending on the time an expat spends on assignment or if they are moving to the country as a permanent resident.

9. Egypt

British expat population: 14,000

Flying time from London:  4 hours 40 minutes

Most people think of The Pyramids, Valley of The Kings and diving in the Red Sea when discussing Egypt, but surprisingly, the country that bridges Africa and the Middle East is home to 14,000 British expats.

Not far from London by air, Egypt offers a lot more than history.

Most of the population of 100 million clusters along the fertile Nile between the southern city of Aswan, passing through Luxor and the capital Cairo and bordering the Mediterranean at Alexandria.

Many expats live and work beside the Red Sea at tourist resorts like Hurghada.

The climate is hot – reaching stifling temperatures in the summer that can easily reach 40° C and more.

The cost of living for expats in Egypt is cheap compared to Europe. The UK Foreign Office warns healthcare in Egypt is not always up to NHS standards and advises British expats to take out private medical cover.

More about living in Egypt

Residence Visa

Most British expats go to Egypt with a 30-day visa and then apply for a one year residence visa at the Ministry of Interior in Tahrir Square, Cairo. If you are staying outside Cairo, then go to the local passport office to make an application.

Expats with work permits can apply for a three or five year residence visa. These are generally sponsored by an employer.

Work Permits

Any expat planning to work in Egypt needs a work permit.

Before an application is made, you need clearance from the Egypt’s national security service.

Expats also need proof of qualifications verified by the British Council in Cairo.

8. Jamaica

British expat population: 25,000

Flying time from London:  9 hours 35 minutes

Life on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica is relaxed and laid-back.

The comparatively high number of British expats in the small population of 2.5 million reflects the country’s historical ties with Britain as a member of the Commonwealth.

Kingston is the capital and by far the largest city, with 650,000 people living there. Expats tend to be retired and live in Mandeville or the coastal towns of Negril, Ochos Rios or the resort of Montego Bay.

Jamaica enjoys fabulous hot and humid weather but suffers from hurricanes blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean.

For expats, the main language is English. The cost of living is much cheaper than in Europe. Healthcare is free but often means a long wait at hospitals or clinics. Private healthcare is better and avoids the queues, but the country has a limited number of private hospital beds.

More about living in Jamaica

Residence Visas

British expats can live in Jamaica and do not need a work permit.

Visas are granted for retirement, marriage to a Jamaican spouse and for employment.

Applications should be made to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency in Kingston.

7. Barbados

British expat population: 27,000

Flying time from London:  8 hours 55 minutes

Barbados summons up an image of pristine, palm fringed beaches and long hot summer days. The nights are warm and relaxed with lots of great bars and restaurants to visit.

Living in Barbados is not cheap – the cost ranks with the USA and much of Europe.

The population is small – numbering around 265,000. English is the main language, and the country has strong ties with the UK.

The main city is Bridgetown, which is popular with expats, together with Saint James and the south coast.

More about living in Barbados

Residence Visas

You can go to Barbados with a 12-month Welcome Stamp on your passport and offers the chance to work on the island before applying for more formal residence status.

Applications for permanent residence must show you have enough income to pay for a home, healthcare and other living costs without becoming a burden on the state.

6. Turkey

British expat population: 34,000

Flying time from London: 4 hours 15 minutes

Turkey is a popular holiday destination for Brits, and many have decided they like the country so much that they have stayed on and call the place home.

Another country of contrasts, Turkey offers crowded, busy cities, quiet coastal resorts, a mountainous inland and desert to the south.

As the gateway between East and West, Turkey has a glorious history and mix of cultures.

The weather is Mediterranean – like Spain, the south of France and Italy. The cost of living is cheaper than that of Turkey’s European neighbours. With a population of 85 million, the capital is Ankara, where 5.7 million live, but the most famous city is probably Istanbul – the old world Constantinople, where 15.5 million call home.

More about living in Turkey

Residence Visa

Brits can enter Turkey for up to 90 days on a short stay visa but must apply for a residence permit to stay longer.

Expats working in Turkey only need a valid work permit and do not have to apply for a residence visa as well.

You will need a residence permit before being allowed to import personal belongings or a car.

Several types of residence visa are available

5. Thailand

British expat population: 41,000

Flying time from London: 13 hours 55 minutes

A beautiful country with a friendly people providing a hue choice of varied locations for expats.

Thailand abounds with pretty islands, miles of palm fringed beaches, mountains, jungles and busy cities.

Living in Thailand comes with lots of benefits – excellent warm weather, a low cost of living and a good health service, although private health insurance is required.

Sprawling Bangkok is the capital. Modern glass and steel skyscrapers clash with ancient temples and a patchwork of markets. The population is 10.5 million.

For fewer crowds, head north to the more sparsely populated districts with beautiful land and seascapes.

The Thai cost of living is cheap compared with living in Europe.

More about living in Thailand

Residence visas

Residence visas are not issued to expats who have lived in Thailand for fewer than three years in a row and they must understand or speak Thai.

Special visas are granted to expats with around $335,000 to invest in a business or shares.

4. Singapore

British expat population: 45,000

Flying time from London: 12 hours 55 minutes

Singapore is one of the world’s leading financial centres and so much more.

This tiny island city state nestles at the foot of the Malay Peninsular in the Asia Pacific and commands some of the busiest ocean highways in the world – the Malacca Strait.

Singapore is an ultra-modern city, much like the Dubai of the Far East with a population of 5.7 million.

The most spoken language is English, and Singapore is known for first-class health, wealth and education. But be warned – the city is also one of the most expensive places to live in the world.

Property is not cheap because land is limited, and the cost of living runs high because most day-to-day goods are imported.

The climate is hot year round with no discernible seasons, with November to February the monsoon season.

More about living in Singapore

Residence visas

Singapore has a Global Investor Program (GIP) to attract the wealthy and entrepreneurs to move to the country.

The GIP offers several pathways to permanent residence to anyone who can invest £1 million or more in Singapore.

Residence visas are also available with long-term work permits.

3. Dubai

British expat population: 55,000

Flying time from London: 7 hours

Dubai has jumped to one of the favourite places for British expats in recent years – but you don’t have to drip with wealth to enjoy life in the desert sunshine.

The cost of living is around 22% lower than London with a family of four spending on average £2,420 a month excluding rent.

The weather is what you would expect from a desert country – hot and humid year round with little or no rain.

Dubai is renowned for a world-leading health service that competes with the best the NHS or medical care offered by any other developed nation. Healthcare is not free, and expats must have private medical insurance.

More about living in Dubai

Residence visas

As one of the more open Gulf States, Dubai offers a range of permanent residence visas to expats who are:

  • Employed by a company or work in the public sector.
  • Business investors 
  • Property owners
  • Retirees

Each residence category comes with list of visa conditions aimed at ensuring the applicant does not become a financial burden on the state.

2. South Africa

British expat population: 212,000

Flying time from London: 13 hours 35 minutes

South Africa’s great weather, spectacular wildlife and outdoor lifestyle are magnets for expats.

Add to that speaking English as a first language and historical ties with Britain, and you can see why South Africa is ever popular with expats.

Another attraction is the cost of living and property prices that are up to 40% less than in Britain, making expat spending power stretch much farther.

The lifestyle ranges from bustling cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg to the open grasslands where expats can spend time going back to nature on safari. South Africa remains one of the few places where you can see the big five in the wild – elephants, lions, rhinoceros, leopard and Cape Buffalo.

More about living in South Africa

Residence visa

South Africa has a reasonably open attitude to taking in expats and offers several classes of permanent visa to:

  • Expats working in South Africa.
  • Expats with exceptional skills or qualifications
  • Business investors
  • Retirees
  • Expats who are financially independent

1. Australia

British expat population: 1.5 million

Flying time from London: 21 hours 55 minutes

Australia is a vast country with stacks of opportunities for British expats seeking a new life.

Most flock to Sydney or Melbourne, but the other major cities like Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane all have large and lively expat populations.

But there are some drawbacks – like the cost of living is higher than in Britain by about 20%, but this is balanced out by better pay and an improved work/life balance.

The weather is certainly better – with hot and dry summers and warm winters compared with the UK. If you want a sporting, outdoor lifestyle Australia is a great place to live.

The fun centre is the Gold Coast around Brisbane and heading north to Cairns, which is just a short trip away from the Great Barrier Reef, one of the wonders of the natural world.

Expats with specialist work experience or qualifications are likely to find jobs easily.

Healthcare is first class, but expats will need private health cover.

More about living in Australia

Residence visa

Australia may have close ties with the UK and welcomes immigrants but obtaining a residence visa is still a hard slog for expats.

Like many other countries, Australia has three major pathways to permanent residence – via work, investment or retirement.

Find out more about Australia residence


What drives an expat to leave Britain is search of a new life elsewhere?

The main reasons are the weather, cost of living and lifestyle, which all these top 10 destinations have in abundance.

iExpats has compiled the top 10 expat places to live outside Europe for expats looking for adventure a little further from home than France or Spain.

How were the top 10 destinations outside Europe picked?

The countries were selected based on official data listing the number of British expats living there and their reputation for good weather – one of the main factors influencing expats to leave the UK.

Does the COVID-19 Pandemic stop expats leaving the UK?

Yes. Current government guidance insists expats have a good reason for leaving the country and that they can only make essential trips. Most of the destinations have their own COVID-19 entry restrictions for foreigners as well, so check the latest official guidance before travelling.

Are the top 10 sunshine countries welcoming to expats?

Most of them already have significant British expat populations and eagerly welcome more providing they meet entry qualifications.

Can I take my UK pension with me as an expat?

The State Pension is paid in all these countries, but some expat destinations do not pick up the annual cost of living increase a pensioner might enjoy in the UK. The government has agreed to top-up the state pension for EU expats each year.
Workplace and other personal pensions will pay into a foreign bank account, but you should consider how foreign exchange rates and transfer times might affect your income.
Sone countries outside Europe are part of HM Revenue & Custom’s Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). This scheme allows expats to switch their pensions offshore. Australia is the market leader, while Barbados has a single scheme.

Can I save tax by becoming an expat?

Saving tax as an expat depends on where you choose to live and if you qualify to switch tax residence. The rules are different between countries and if you are moving for tax purposes, you should take advice from a UK tax professional and one in the country where you intend to move to ensure there are no financial pitfalls overlooked.

Related Information

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.

Leave a Comment