Where are your customers going to?

May 09 | 2016

International removals company, Burke Bros Moving Group, has taken a look at the latest emigration statistics, researching the last 30 years on where British people have been moving to from the UK. Australia’s in the lead, which will surprise nobody, but the others on the list are not so predictable.

It has been estimated by the World Bank that between 4.5 million and 5.5 million Britons currently live overseas. So where exactly are British people moving too? The latest data shows the top ten countries where British Citizens are setting up home:  

Table A: Top 10 Countries of Next Residence for British Citizens.

Country of next residence


1   Australia


2   France


3   USA


4   United Arab Emirates


5   Canada


6   Spain


7   New Zealand


8    Singapore


9   Switzerland


10 Hong Kong


Source: Office for National Statistics (26th November, 2015)


The table shows Australia in first place as the most popular destination for British Citizens, but it has also been the country of choice for Britons consecutively since 1985. However, the latest figures show only 30,000 British Citizens relocated to Australia compared to 49,000 in 2005.  

France is currently the second favourite country for British Expats globally, with 13,000 people moving across the channel from the most up to date statistics. However, this is considerably down from 27,000 in 2005 but is beginning to climb from a low of 7,000 in 2009. France is now the most popular country for Britons in Europe, ahead of Spain.  

Spain, a country that has traditionally been associated with British Expats, had only 7,000 people move there according to the latest yearly figures. The loss in popularity for Spain can be seen in this figure being down nearly 80% from 33,000 in 2003.    

New Zealand, which is another favourite country for British Expats also seems to have declined in recent years with 15,000 Britons moving to New Zealand in 2004 compared with just 7,000 in the latest year on record.  

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has also seen an increase over the last decade, with it not even being in the league table 18 years ago. The latest figures show the U.A.E. in 4th place with 9,000 people moving there compared with 8th place in 2004. This will be due to the increase in job prospects in the area in recent years, as the U.A.E. is becoming a strong global leader in international business.  

Overall, even though fewer British Citizens are emigrating overseas than in recent years, Australia and France continue to remain the top two popular destinations.       

However, this is not the complete picture of all long term international migration from the UK, as there is a lot of movement to consider including those who have come to work or study here and are returning home. 

The table below shows the top fifteen countries of next residence for both British Citizens and Non British to include all emigration from the UK.   

Table B: Top 15 Countries of Next Residence for all British Citizens and Non British Migrants.  

Country of next residence


1   Australia


2   France


3   China


4   Poland


5   Spain


6   USA


7   India


8   United Arab Emirates


9   Canada


10 New Zealand


11 Germany


12 Italy


13 Republic of Ireland


14 Singapore


15 Netherlands


Source: Office for National Statistics (26th November, 2015)   

Interestingly with the second table we see a new set of countries appear when all migration from the UK is added which reflects the wider communities living in the UK and where they are migrating to. For example, China is now third in Table B but does not appear in Table A at all, with 19,000 migrants emigrating in accordance with the most recent figures.  

China along with other countries such as Poland and India show large increases in potential moves within these markets. These countries have now reached the top seven destinations for all long-term migration traffic showing that many of these migrants are not in fact British Citizens moving to these destinations. 18,000 people migrated to Poland in 2014.   

Although overall migration for people leaving the U.K. has fallen, for various reasons such as the global economic climate and lifestyle changes, it would appear the world is becoming a more level playing field and those opportunities to be found overseas, may not be as desirable. 

Even though Australia and France continue to be the two most popular countries for British Citizens, for migrants moving for corporate and educational opportunities, it is hard to ignore countries like China, India, U.A.E., Switzerland and the Netherlands.