Quality of life and retirement are the top reasons people leave UK while fish and chips and a good pint are missed most by expats, a new survey reveals today.

Those from the south east of the country are the most likely to relocate abroad, according to the Happiness Index from Post Office International Payments.

It found that those who do move abroad are living their dream with 70% of expats ranking themselves as very happy with their new life, although almost two thirds admitted to feeling pressure on their personal finances.

Some 60% said they feel a greater sense of community in their new country compared to the UK and overall the top country chosen by expats as their new home is France. Although the weather there is typically warmer than in the UK, 50% of French based expats said they would like the climate to be even warmer or sunnier than it is.

Spain was the second most popular destinations as many expats said they had no desire to move too far away. Third was the US, followed by Australia and then Thailand.

Family is what expats miss the most, 57%, followed by friends, 43%, and personal events such as weddings and birthdays, 25%. However, 20% still yearn for the UK countryside, 5% miss driving on the left hand side of the road and 5% miss their pets. Some 3% even said they most missed UK soap operas.

Looking at food and drink in particular, traditional fish and chips was the dish most missed by people living abroad, with some 23% pining for the treat.  Other favourites included a pint of ‘proper beer’, also 23%, English breakfast tea, 13%, and Marmite, 6%. Sunday lunch in the local pub is also commonly missed by expats, with over one in five, 21%, listing this as the food they miss the most.

Regionally, the survey showed that people from London and the South East are the most likely to emigrate with 39% of all expats questioned were from this region. This compares to just 13% from the North East and North West combined.

‘Our research has shown that two thirds of expats are feeling a pressure on their personal finances; with the global recession impacting interest rates and the performance of the pound on the currency market, relocation doesn't always mean immunity to ongoing financial strain,’ said Sarah Munro from Post Office International Payments.

‘Although we've seen that the vast majority of people who relocated abroad are much happier in their adoptive countries, even just moving across the channel can feel like worlds apart from your old life in the UK. And it takes a lot of organising,’ she added.

‘For anyone who is looking to set up home in a new country, the Post Office International Payments service offers fee free international money transfers to help with house deposits and any other set up costs and doesn't have to break the bank,’ she explained.

The Post Office International Payments service can be used to send money between UK and overseas bank accounts for a wide range of purposes such as sending money to family and friends, paying bills, managing an overseas property, pension income, school fees or wedding costs.

The minimum transfer amount is £250 and those under £20,000 should be made online. Payments over £70,000 are handled by the telephone service where a specialist team member will offer clear guidance and quotes tailored to the customer's specific needs.