Weather makes British people move abroad, research finds

by Ray Clancy on December 25, 2015

As the UK is battered by winter storms, research has found that the climate is one of the major factors that make British people want to move abroad.

Some 45% mentioned the weather in a survey when asked the major reasons for wanting to become an expat compared to just 29% of people from other countries.

Winter-StormThe research by InterNations also found that Continental Europe is the favourite place for would be expats to escape the British weather with Spain and France still the most popular locations for a move.

And once they have moved abroad British expats don’t rent to feel homesick. Indeed some 41% say that they are possibly going to stay overseas for the rest of their days compared with only 25% of expats worldwide.

However, British expats don’t come top of the class when it comes to learning a foreign language when they have moved overseas. Some 34% know only one language other than their own, and 36% say they don’t speak anything except for English.

Yet the expat survey shows that globally, 61% of respondents speak three or more languages, almost double the percentage of British expats who profess similar language skills at 31%.

But 40% of British expats say they are able to speak the local language a little and they don’t consider the language barrier to be that high as only 24% have had problems with languages, less than the global average of 26%.

The research also found that British people do not mainly move 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 at 13%, compared to 5% globally.

In comparison with the global survey population, British expats have a somewhat lower level of formal education and 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 and 45% of British employees overseas state that they are in a management position, more than the global average of 38%. Still, 37% of Brits working abroad have a lower income than they would have back in the UK.

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% and 51% of British expats 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, a third of British expats finds it convenient to make friends in the local neighbourhood, and 16% get to know new people through local clubs and associations, compared with 28% and 13%, respectively, elsewhere in the world.

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