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Top expat destinations for UK employees

An expat is a person that lives outside of their native country. According to the ONS survey, from the UK alone, there are over 7.7 million expats living in different countries across the world.

If you’re planning a move abroad, there are many factors to think about with location . Here we’ve taken a look at the top expat destinations and why you might decide to move there.

American landmark
new york street

The 4th biggest country in the world (by total land mass), the United States of America has a lot to offer any UK expat. There’s the city life in Chicago and New York that is a Christmas time favourite with a lot of UK tourists, or there’s the iconic steep streets of San Francisco and gorgeous Los Angeles beaches. The USA is famed for its country music, historic landmarks and beautiful mountain ranges alongside its Baseball and American Football, there is so much to explore whilst you’re there.

However, a major benefit to Britons making the move to the USA is undoubtedly that they speak English. This removes that initial barrier when considering which country to move to as you know instantly you can socialise or communicate effectively with the people that you meet.

The USA can also offer increased job opportunities, better salaries and an outstanding level of higher education if you have children planning on heading to university there.

For entry into the USA you will need either a nonimmigrant or an immigrant visa. The immigrant visa is for someone wishing to apply to live in the USA on a permanent basis and eventually become a USA citizen. An nonimmigrant visa is for a person with permanent residence outside of the USA but wishing to temporarily live in the USA for work, study or tourism purposes.

Remember also that you’ll want to ensure that you have adequate international health insurance to cover you against medical treatment.

Paris France

France, our neighbors across the English Channel, is home to around 175,000 UK expats. Drawn by amazing food, wine, culture, shopping, fashion, and a more laid back way of life. The majority of UK expats to France head for the capital, Paris. However, France also draws Brits that are looking for a quiet retirement destination where the Dordogne is particularly popular. 

France has an  amazing work-life balance (with most French citizens getting on average 5 weeks of paid holiday a year). Plus, don’t forget Café culture – the French have the art of spending time with loved ones enjoying the world going by down to a tee. Enjoy an afternoon sat on a bustling French street taking in the world, culture and people and you’ll soon fall in love with France.

To live in France you will require a visa as a UK Citizen. For those that are British citizens and don’t have any family members currently living in France, you will require a long-stay visa from the French consular services in the UK.

Australia's Sydney Beach

According to the AU government website there were almost 1.2million UK expats living in Australia as of 2021  making it the top destination for UK expats. That also means that UK expats are the largest migrant community in Australia.

It’s very easy to see why so many call Australia home, from the bustling cities to the idyllic beaches, Australia allows you to cover vast landscapes, learn about the unique native wildlife – all whilst being in one country. Explore all the way from Sydney Harbour to the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns and into the outback to take in the Aboriginal wonder of Uluru.

As a UK citizen, gaining a visa to emigrate to Australia can vary in time depending upon your age, your skills or your potential employer.

In 2023, Australia and the UK extended the age limit for the Working Holiday Visa which now allows people up the age of 35 years old to enter for up to 3 years.

If you are lucky enough to work in a field that is in demand in Australia then you can apply for a entry under particular visa types for state sponsored occupations. For example, if there is a need for nurses in Queensland then you can apply for a state sponsored visa.

Finally, if you are able to find an employer that is willing to sponsor you, then that can help to speed up your Australian visa application too. Although even with this in place you may need to consider different visa options for your family members.

If you’re hoping of moving down under then you must ensure you have a valid Australian visa. If you’re planning on moving to Australia to work then you can apply for a work visa as long as you’re eligible but if not, then the applications can take some time. Australian visas are issued to highly skilled workers who can then apply for citizenship or permanent residence after spending a certain amount of time in Australia.

Canadian Flag image
Canadian Lake and hut on the water

Known as the politest nation in the world, Canada offers a vast range of opportunities to explore fantastic environments and landscapes whilst still speaking you’re native language. From the Rocky mountain range to the metropolis that is Vancouver, the country is filled with epic landscapes to explore. And, there are currently estimated to be 6000 UK expats living in Canada which equates to roughly 2% of the current population.

Just like with the USA, moving to Canada is a great choice because they share the same native language which means you can hit the ground running when it comes to communicating with locals and socialising.

Similarly to Australia they run a system of immigration which is centered around attracting skilled workers to their country. The idea is that if you have one of the skilled jobs they are looking for then you can enter using an express entry visa and start working in the country.

If you’re not a skilled worked then there are other options such as Family Sponsorship (where you can be sponsored by a relative), Start-up visa (where you can immigrate by starting up a business and creating jobs); and they also run a Diversity Lottery System in which you can enter to be randomly selected for a visa as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Italy landscape
Leaning tower of pisa Italy

For many, the move to Italy is for retirement or to find an easier way of life. It’s waving goodbye to the colder British weather and embracing an easier way of life with a fantastic Mediterranean climate.

The home of pasta, pizza, prosciutto and Pisa; everywhere you turn in Italy there is an amazing experience to be had. The country boasts beautiful rural countryside in Tuscany and coastal delights like Portofino, Amalfi and Cinque Terre which are steeped in history. It has an amazing Mediterranean climate which allows it to grow the freshest produce to be used in all of its amazing family run restaurants.

You can travel to Italy visa free for a total of 90-days but then once that limit is reached you must leave or have a permanent residents visa to be able to stay. For anyone looking to move to Italy full time, there are a different range of visas to choose from including:

  • Work Visa: For those people who have an offer of work in Italy
  • Family Visa: For those people who are wanting to join a family member who holds an EU citizenship or permanent residence status in Italy. This kind of visa can also be considered for those joining long-term partners already living in Italy. They must be able to prove they are in a long-term and stable relationship.
  • Student Visa: For those students over the age of 18 who are enrolled to study in an Italian educational institute.
  • Self-employed Visa: For those people who are planning to open a business (which will create jobs) or be self-employed whilst in Italy.

For most countries now, UK residents just need to be aware that laws on visas have changed due to Brexit. Post-Brexit there are different circumstances in which UK residents will need extra certification when planning on moving to that country. Find out more about post-Brexit travel requirements and restrictions.

We would always suggest that before you make this big decision to become an expat and move to a different country, that you spend as much time there as you can to really get to know the people, culture and way of living.

Remember that in many of the popular expat destinations healthcare is not provided free at the point of use as it is in the UK, so having internatonal health insurance is an important part of planning your expat life.


Travel advice expert
An avid skier with a love of all things christmas, Emma enjoys a week in the snowy mountains with family and friends whenever she gets chance. From the Canadian Rockies to Lake Bohinj in Slovenia, if its got a chairlift, snow and a glass of Gluhwein, Emma is there.