Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

British Expats Say Farewell Forever

Life abroad seems to appeal to British expats as a lot of them are likely never to return to Mother England.

The Atlantic Archipelago is known for its somewhat fickle weather. Apparently, this also serves as a major factor for Brits deciding to leave behind their home, since 45% of them mention climate and weather as a consideration for their relocation, while globally only 29% of the respondents would say the same. Continental Europe seems to be the place to look for the sunnier climes, as Spain and France are among the top destinations for Britons moving abroad.

According to the survey, Brits don't get homesick that easily: 41% say that they are possibly going to stay overseas for the rest of their days. Worldwide, only 25% of expats make such predictions.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics on the British abroad - infographic
Embed this image on your website:

Mostly Monolingual

The linguistic abilities of the British expats fall slightly behind in a global comparison. Over one-third (34%) know only one language other than their own, and 36% say they don't speak anything except for English. Globally, 61% of respondents speak three or more languages, almost double the percentage of British expats who profess similar language skills (31%).

However, 40% of Brits abroad say they are able to speak the local language a little, which is probably enough in most cases considering how widely their mother tongue is spoken all over the world. Indeed, British expats don't consider the language barrier to be that high - only 24% have had problems with it, a little less than the global average of 26%.

Play before Work

The British have not primarily moved abroad for work-related reasons. Neither finding a job nor being sent on a foreign assignment is the number one reason for relocating. The single most important reason is the search for a better quality of life, listed by 14% of the British respondents. This might be partly explained by the exceptionally large percentage of retirees among the British expats (13% vs. 5% globally).

In comparison with the global survey population, British expats have a somewhat lower level of formal education: 19% do not have any degree at all or have only graduated from secondary school. Globally, this group consists of only 9% of all expats. And while 42% of expatriates worldwide have a postgraduate degree, this applies only to 27% of the British survey participants.

This doesn't stop them from having successful careers, though: 45% of British employees overseas state that they are in a management position, clearly more than the global average of 38%. Still, 37% of Brits working abroad have a lower income than they would have back in the United Kingdom.

In Love with the Locals

Among British expats, a committed relationship is somewhat more common than among the expatriate population in general: 69% mention having a partner or spouse, while around the globe 62% say the same.

Apparently, Brits abroad also tend to find their significant other in their host country more often than the average, as 36% of those in a relationship have a partner from their current country of residence (versus 32% worldwide).

Smooth Socializing

Despite their somewhat limited foreign language skills, British expats seem to get on fairly well with the local population. While globally 16% of the expats say their social circles consist mostly of local residents, the respective percentage of British expats is 20%. Further, over half of the British respondents (51%) describe their friends and acquaintances overseas as a mixed group of expats and local people.

While work is the most common way to meet new people for most expats, one-third of the British expats finds it convenient to make friends in the local neighborhood, and 16% get to know new people through local clubs and associations. The global averages for these ways of socializing are 28% and 13%, respectively.

Further Reading