Spain is where British expats are happiest, survey finds

by Ray Clancy on January 23, 2012

British expats far happier in their adopted countries than in UK, claims survey

British expats are happiest in Spain, followed by Canada and Germany, according to new research which also examined their cost of living and financial well being.

New Zealand ranks highest on quality of life and tax free United Arab Emirates rated as the best destination for expats’ financial prospects.

The survey by Lloyds TSB International also found that overall British expats are far happier in their adopted countries than in the UK.

Overall, 68% of those asked said that they felt happier where they were than in the UK, although for certain countries this figure was much higher. Spain ranked number one for expat happiness, with over three quarters, 75.9%, of Brits living there saying they are happier than back at home. Germany also rates highly on the happiness scale with 71% saying they are happier than in the UK.

The Antipodes were highly rated for quality of life, with 77% in Australia and 79% in New Zealand feeling their living standards are better. However despite this, these two countries were not as highly ranked for happiness, with 64.7% of expats in Australia and only 50% in New Zealand saying they were happier than in the UK suggesting that other factors exert an influence on expats’ general happiness.

Both countries rated poorly when judged by cost of living, with only 35% of those in Australia and 29% in New Zealand saying their living costs are lower than in the UK.

Financial well being is an important consideration for expats, and the UAE exceeds all other countries with 95% of expats saying they feel financially better off in the tax free emirates than in the UK. However, many expats view it as an expensive place to live with just 22% saying they have a lower cost of living than in the UK.

‘Much has been made of the gloomy economic outlook in Spain and the government’s austerity programme, but despite this stream of bad news, British expats think their financial prospects are better there than in the UK. But more importantly, it seems a good quality of life, perhaps including the sunny weather and the laidback Mediterranean lifestyle, are contributing to Spain’s place as number one for general happiness,’ said Nicholas Boys Smith of Lloyds TSB International.

‘These findings show that there is a real variety of decisions to be made when choosing where to emigrate. Expats who choose a country solely based on financial prospects may find they compromise on quality of life, or vice versa. Happiness is influenced by many different factors which need to be considered together. For example New Zealand was thought to have the best quality of life, but actually ranked lowest for overall happiness,’ he added.

France, which is also a favourite expat destination, fared only middling. Just 65% said they were happy there and 66.7% said they has a better quality of life and only 38.3% said they had a lower cost of living while 56.7% thought they were better off financially.

The United States was also middling. Some 62.4% said they were happier, 66.1% said they had a better quality of live, 61.2% said they had a lower cost of living and 62.4% said they were better off financially.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen McCann March 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I'm not surprised that the poll found so many from the UK happy with their choice of Spain. As an American expat living in Seville, I love the zaniness of a place where ham is considered health food, my doctor prescribes dark chocolate and red wine for lowering cholesterol, and the other day I saw a man singing his heart out to a display of fish. If you can't find happiness here, you're not looking hard enough.


Pam Bell June 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm

It could also be something to do with the slower pace of life and everyone’s laid back attitude to life in Spain. Where we live you think nothing of a car infront of you stopping to greet a friend of neighbour and horns are only used to alert a friend that you are there. Plus who wants all the UK rain and cold weather all year round; give me sunny Spain any day


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