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British Expats: Most Popular Destinations Revealed

British Expats: Most Popular Destinations Revealed

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals 69% of British citizens living in the European Union are based in Spain, France and Portugal.
Age & Gender Breakdown

Two thirds (66%) of the 784,900 British citizens living in EU nations in 2017 were aged 15 to 64. Around 26% were aged 65 and over, while the remainder were aged under 15 years.


The highest proportion of British expats in the EU aged 15 to 64 lived in Finland and the Czech Republic, with figures standing at 88% and 87% respectively. The highest proportion of British expats in the EU aged 65 and over lived in Spain and Portugal.

Interestingly, the numbers also revealed that more British men live in the EU than woman (53% vs. 47%). The gender disparity is most noticeable in Lithuania, where 85% of the British population is male.


Europe ousted by long haul destinations

While the EU is a firm favourite with British expats, it’s not number one in popularity. With distance not being a concern far-flung destinations are also within their scope. Australia and New Zealand are top of list, with 33% of all British born emigrants living outside the UK in 2017 settling on the other side of the world.


Some 28% lived in the US or Canada and 26% lived in the EU, of which 6% resided in Ireland. ONS deputy director of migration statistics, Jay Lindop said, “Spain continues to be the most desirable location for the three quarters of a million Brits living in the EU.”


“However, the EU as a whole is not the most popular destination for British expats, with more than half preferring to live in English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada.”


Where do Brits retire abroad?

The study also showed that large numbers of British citizens leave Britain in their retirement years, trading the UK for warmer southern European countries. More Brits retired to Spain than any other country, with 41% of British expats aged 65 and over relocating to its sunny costas and inland mountain retreats.


Portugal wasn’t far behind (39%), while other countries with a high proportion of Brits aged 65 and over included Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta. Why do so many people retire in Spain? A separate survey by global expat network InterNations found that living costs in Spain are around 20% cheaper than the UK, helping to make pensions go further. Living costs are also comparatively low in Portugal and Bulgaria.


Portugal’s advantages tend to be lesser known, their Non-Habitual Residency programme (NHR), Golden Visa, inheritance, and other incentive programs are however increasingly attracting more British and foreign residents. The NHR program for example, introduced in 2009, can exempt foreigners who reside in Portugal from paying tax on most forms of overseas income, including pensions, for a period of ten years. Imagine a ten year tax break?!