According to the most recent Natwest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Index, there are almost five million Britons living and working abroad. Australia, Spain, the USA, Canada and South Africa were found to be the top countries for British expats, with over 40 countries out of 196 having a British population of 10,000 or over.
Australia, with approximately 1.4 million British expats is the top expat destination, and Spain with 940,000 expats, the USA with 794,000 expats and Canada with 630,000 expats follow closely behind. Other popular destinations include China, Portugal, the UAE and Singapore.
The five million Britons around the globe certainly have an influence on the economy and culture, both on a local and global level. As Dave Isley, Head of Natwest International Personal Banking comments: “Either by design or accident, British expats are our ambassadors abroad and are playing a pivotal role in promoting values and best practices. Their contribution to local economies and communities – either financially or socially – cannot be underestimated.” The English language serves as an important tool and platform for international collaboration. Britons work in a range of sectors ranging from business to language teaching and the international civil service.
China, Singapore and the UAE are some of the most popular destinations for those looking for business opportunities. According to the report, British businessmen and businesswomen are known for their expertise and are renowned for their ethical and transparent approach to business. Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are important business centres in China, which is home to 38,000 expats with Hong Kong included. Britons are employed predominantly in IT, telecommunications, finance, management and marketing. Dubai in the UAE is a top business centre in the Middle East with a relatively large British population.
There are also a considerable number of British teachers working in international schools around the world. The 74,264 expat teachers represent over 10% of the number of teachers working in state schools in the UK. While there are many international schools in the traditionally popular expat destinations, such as Australia or Europe, the increase in the number of British schools is expected to happen mainly in the UAE, China and more generally in Asia over the coming years.
David Isley emphasises the importance of English teachers abroad: “There is a vast number of teachers living abroad, teaching and sharing the English language, passing an invaluable tool on to children across the globe. The increase in the number of English speaking international schools means that the skills offered and the role teachers play in the community will continue to be in demand.”
Quality of life also plays an important role in expats’ choices. Locations, such as Australia, the USA, Canada and Spain continue to be popular with British expats as they can offer a more relaxed lifestyle, better climate, better work-life balance, or simply a new experience in a cultural and economic environment that is not that hugely different from that of the UK.
The survey also points out that a wider range of expat destinations, such as China, the UAE or Singapore are emerging alongside the more conventionally popular ones like Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA. This is due to a range of factors such as a more globalised market, the emergence of important overseas financial centres and even the greater sense of adventure of the new generation of expats.