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Top 10 Favourite Countries For British Expats

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Dreaming of a bright future in a new country is one thing, but quite another to earn enough to pay the bills in some places where the cost of living often outpaces that in the UK.

Sensible expats research how much they need to earn to maintain or improve their lifestyle overseas.

And for many, the soaring cost of living shatters their dreams before they even get going.

The most expensive city is Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, where goods and services cost a staggering 47 per cent more than in London.

Spending Power

A family of four in Hamilton needs an after-tax income of around £9,000 a month to maintain a similar standard of living, £5,425 buys in London.

Despite the income disparity, the spending power of a pound is 3.6 per cent more than in Bermuda.

This guide compares the cost of living in the global top ten countries where British expats choose to call home with spending in London.

The data comes from the expat cost of living tracker Numbeo, which collects real-time information from expats in the countries.


Down Under is the most popular expat destination, with around 1.5 million British expats out of a 25 million population.

The former British colony is now a thriving nation but still needs a workforce and expertise to move the economy forward. In-demand skills and qualifications include nursing, teaching, IT, construction and engineering.

Salaries are better than in the UK, but the cost of living is around 20 per cent more.

The major cities dotted around the coastal regions, like Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, are popular places to live.


Spain is the favourite European destination for hundreds of thousands of expats, often retirees, who enjoy Spain’s laid-back lifestyle and sunny weather.

Around 800,000 British expats have packed their bags in favour of Spain. Most live on the busy Mediterranean coast.

Most are retired, but those who work do similar jobs as they would in the UK, with a lot working in construction, tourism, and hospitality.

The cost of living is on a par with the UK, if not slightly more expensive.

United States

The USA ranks unexpectedly high in the rankings of British expats favourite destinations.

But with 765,000 British expats mainly moving to Florida, living in the USA takes third place as an expat favourite destination.

Most expats settling here are retired and, like Spain, seek sunny climes for their golden years. The added advantage is Americans speak English, the culture is familiar, and the food is typical English high-street fare.

The cost of living is a shade more expensive than in Britain. For instance, fuel for a car is less than £1 a litre, but in such a vast country, plenty of places are as cheap or cheaper than London.

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Huge landscapes, big skies and a sparse population make Canada popular with British expats.

Like Australia, Canada is a former British territory with strong links to the UK, but with a population of 38 million. This leaves plenty of scope to settle and find a well-paid job. In-demand occupations are nurses and doctors, IT, engineering and vet work.

Again the cost of living is slightly more expensive than in London, but not so costly to deter more than 600,000 Brits from moving there. Many live in the big cities of Vancouver, Quebec, Montreal and Toronto.


At least 300,000 British expats, many with Irish family connections, have taken the ferry to Dublin to start a new life.

The reasoning for moving is unclear – Ireland has a higher cost of living than the UK, the weather’s at best the same, and the pay is no better. Expect to pay 15 per cent more than in London for groceries and essentials, while renting a home costs 60 per cent more than in London.

In-demand roles are in engineering, healthcare, IT and hospitality.

Dublin is the country’s biggest city, with a cost of living and house prices ahead of those in the rest of Ireland.

New Zealand

New Zealand is a welcoming home from home for British expats.

Expats aged 66 years or more can buy a two-year residence visa, provided they have £390,000 to buy a home, £250,000 in the bank and an annual income of £30,000 a year.

New Zealand doesn’t only want retirees to move in – different visa paths are open to students and working-age adults and their families.

The cost of living is similar in the UK and Dublin.


France is a global economic superpower with an economy to match the UK . For centuries, Britain and France have vied for superiority in a love-hate relationship that masks a deep friendship between the nations.

The better climate and laid-back approach to life attract many Britons.

At the last count, at least 200,000 British expats live in France.

Again, the cost of living is similar to that in the UK. The job market and salaries align with the UK, too. Roles with a shortage of skilled candidates include healthcare, construction, electricians and vets.

Many expats see the advantage of living in northern France and commuting by air or train to the UK.


Germany is another country with a love-hate relationship with the UK, but is still home to 168,000 British expats.

Berlin is the most popular place for Brits to live in Germany, with nearly 26,000 registered there.

Germany has Europe’s largest economy and ranks fourth in the world behind China, the USA and Japan. With low unemployment, skills shortages that undermine other European economies do not afflict Germany.

The cost of living is slightly cheaper than in the UK.


Portugal is another warm country that attracts a lot of British expats.

Moving to Portugal is easier than migrating to other European Union countries as the government runs a golden visa scheme to attract wealthy expats and entrepreneurs.

Golden visa holders must live in Portugal for seven days in the first year and only 14 days a year afterwards. In return for investing in a business or property, expats can freely travel within the Schengen Zone and become Portuguese residents.

Hundreds of expats, mainly from China, have taken advantage of the golden visa.

Around 60,000 Brits live in Portugal, mainly in the south and the Algarve.

Top 10 Favourite Countries For British Expats FAQ

What’s a golden visa?

A golden visa is a special residency arrangement some countries offer to attract investment and wealthy entrepreneurs.

Where is the Schengen Zone?

The Schengen Zone covers the internal borders of many European Union countries that have abolished passports and visas needed to cross their frontiers.

How does an expat become a tax resident?

To become tax resident, expats generally have to live in a country for six months and apply for residency. However, the rules vary between countries, and expats should check with the authorities to confirm local arrangements.

How long can expats stay in an EU country?

British expats can remain in the EU for 90 days in any 180 days across any number of countries. At the end of 90 days, they must return home or apply for residency.

Do I get free health cover as a British expat?

Expats tend to get the same healthcare deal as the citizens of the country they move to. Many, such as Dubai, the US and Australia, demand expats buy private health cover before they arrive, so any medical costs are paid.

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