With working from home becoming the norm for many office workers, and more employers than ever offering staff the option to work from anywhere, it’s no surprise to see workers making the most of the flexibility, with many now moving and working abroad.
Now that flexible working is experiencing such a boom, we thought we’d look into some key statistics related to working abroad.
- In 2022, 90,000 British citizens moved abroad to work.
- Those in the 25-44 age group are most likely to move to another country to work.
- 42% of employees would want to use their employer’s remote working policy to work from abroad.
- In 2022, around 560,000 people left the UK to live abroad long-term.
- A higher proportion of women (45%) would like to work from abroad compared to men (39%).
- The typical cost of moving abroad ranges between £1,000 and £5,000.
- The average age of a working ex-pat globally is 43 years old.
Most Popular Countries Brits Move To
So what are the most popular countries that British citizens move to? Using combined statistics from the UN and the IPPR, the below table shows the top 20 most popular countries for British expats, and the estimated number of British residents in each country.
of British Residents
Countries to Consider Working Abroad
There are several factors to consider when looking for the most suitable countries to work in, particularly if you’re planning to work from home in a computer-based job. Some of these include:
- Cost of living
- Internet speeds
- Immigration and visa policies
- Happiness and quality of life
Below are some of the top countries you might consider working from based on these qualities.
Canada tops the list as the best country to work in, according to a 2021 study. The country boasts great broadband speeds, reasonably priced accommodation, and its visa policies are pretty migrant-friendly. Canada also has a score of 7.23 on the World Happiness Index.
Australia is the most popular country British citizens move to, with around 1.2 million British people currently living there. Many Brits move to Australia for the warmer climate and work-life balance. Cities like Sydney and Canberra offer plenty of job opportunities, and Perth has a thriving community of UK expats.
Sweden appears on the World Happiness Index with a score of 7.35. They also have high broadband internet speeds and a reasonable average monthly rent of £771. So if you’re looking to take in some of the beautiful Swedish scenery in your downtime, this is an option to consider.
Spain offers a ‘digital nomad’ visa for people from non-EEA countries (like the UK) who want to work in Spain for a non-Spanish company. So if you’re working remotely in Spain for a UK company, this visa would apply to you. It also makes the process of applying for residency easier when you arrive.
Requirements for Working Abroad
There are a number of things you’ll need to consider if you’re thinking about moving to work in another country. If you are employed in the UK but working abroad, there are a number of legal implications you should consider. Make sure you’re aware of matters like immigration, employment law, and tax before you decide to make the move.
One of the most important things to consider when working in another country is getting immigration permission. The rules on immigration vary depending on which country you’re moving to. Often you will require a visa to live and work in an overseas country.
You should also think about your immigration status in the UK if you’re not a British national and you want to work from another country. Your absence from the UK might affect your visa or the continuity of your residence in the UK.
Visa Information For the Top 20 Countries
When people are no longer around London, but around the world, and moving to a new country to work,, it’s important to be aware of the immigration rules surrounding work visas and residence status.
Below is a summary of work visa information and resources for the top 20 countries British Citizens move to.
|Country||Visa Resource||Visa Scheme||Visa Cost||Maximum Stay|
|Australia||Australia Visa||Direct entry scheme||From AUD4,115||None|
|USA||USA Visa||Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3||$1125 applicant fee (plus employer fees)||None|
|Spain||Spain Visa||EU Blue Card||€418||None – Renewable annually if conditions still met|
|Canada||Canada Visa||Work permit – High-Wage Workers||€155||None – Apply for permanent residence for long term stay|
|Ireland||Ireland Visa||Critical Skills Employment Permit||€1,000.00||None – Immigration permission renewable every 2 years|
|New Zealand||New Zealand Visa||Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa||Application cost $530, immigration cost $3,310||None|
|India||India Visa||Employment Visa||£341 up to one year (multiple entry)||5 years|
|South Africa||South Africa Visa||Critical Skills Visa||R1520||5 years|
|France||France Visa||International talents and economic attractiveness program||€269||4 years|
|Germany||Germany Visa||Employment visa||€75||None|
|Italy||Italy Visa||EU Blue Card||€116||None|
|Portugal||Portugal Visa||Residence permit for highly qualified activity||€90||1 year, then renewable every 2 years|
|Cyprus||Cyprus Visa||Immigration Permit Category D||€500||4 years|
|Netherlands||Netherlands Visa||Highly Skilled Migrants visa||€345||5 years|
|UAE||UAE Visa||Green Visa||Details not yet available||Details not yet available|
|Switzerland||Switzerland Visa||Work permit||US$92||2 years|
|Pakistan||Pakistan Visa||Work visa – professionals and teachers category||US$100||3 months, renewable|
|Singapore||Singapore Visa||Employment pass||S$105 on application, S$225 when issued||Up to 2 years, renewals up to 3 years|
|Israel||Israel Visa||B/1 Work visa||US$2,740||5 years, 3 months|
|Thailand||Thailand Visa||Smart Visa||10,000 Baht per year||4 years|
Which countries have digital nomad visas?
There are a number of countries that offer ‘digital nomad visas’. These are visas that are suitable for people looking to work remotely in that country, either as a digital nomad or as an employee at a company based in another country. Each one has its own requirements that applicants will need to meet in order to get a visa.
Here are some of the countries offering digital nomad visas:
- Barbados has a ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ visa which lasts for 12 months but can be extended. This is for workers who work remotely for a company outside Barbados.
- Portugal offers a D7 visa for non-EU citizens who want to live in Portugal with their own funding. This option is available to digital nomads, entrepreneurs and retirees.
- Antigua and Barbuda have a Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) visa for remote workers who can show that their earnings are enough to support themselves.
- Bermuda’s ‘Work From Bermuda’ visa allows remote workers and digital nomads to stay in the country for up to a year.
- Croatia’s digital nomad visas are available for varying lengths of time, with a maximum of 12 months. You must prove your self-employment or remote working status and earn a minimum of €2,500 per month.
- Dubai (UAE) now offers a virtual working program for digital nomads which lasts one year for digital nomads and remote workers to live and work in the country.
- Estonia has a freelancer and digital nomad visa for workers which allows non-citizens to live in the country for a year while working remotely.
- Iceland’s long-term visa is available for remote workers and their families, but it only lasts for 6 months.
- Malta has a Digital Nomad Residence Permit, specifically for remote workers outside the EU. This can be renewed for up to a maximum of 3 years.
- Mexico has Temporary Resident Visa for remote workers who can demonstrate that they are financially self-sufficient. This can be renewed for up to 3 years.
- Spain has plans to introduce a dedicated digital nomad visa which will last for 6-12 months. The full details are yet to be finalised.
Number of People Leaving the UK
In 2022, around 560,000 people left the UK to live abroad long-term. The majority of those who left the UK during this period were EU nationals (275,000), alongside 90,000 British nationals and 195,000 non-EU nationals.
The data in the graph below shows a resurgence of people moving abroad to work in 2022 compared to previous years. This could be due to a slowdown in international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic over 2020 and 2021, and more people taking advantage of travel restrictions being lifted in 2022.
Moving Abroad to Work by Age
Data from ONS shows that there’s a distinct difference between different age groups when it comes to who is moving abroad to work. Statistics on UK citizens living and working abroad show the age group most likely to move abroad for work, as of 2019 were those aged 25-34, with approximately 34,800 Brits of this age moving to another country for work.
Demographics of Global Working Expats
Let’s take a look at some statistics on people who work abroad around the world, and who they are.
- Statistics show that the average age of a working ex-pat is 43 years old.
- The gender split on people who work abroad is fairly even, with 53% being male and 46% being female.
- Most people (80%) who move abroad to work have a degree, with 33% having a bachelor’s degree, and 47% having a postgraduate or master’s degree. A further 8% of working ex-pats have a PhD.
- 5% of people who work abroad have vocational, commercial or technical qualifications.
Average Salaries of the Top 20 Countries Brits Move To
For Brits who are looking to move to a new country and find work, salary will be a big factor in where they choose to move to. We’ve put together the average salaries of the top 20 countries in the table below. This data shows the average yearly salaries of people in full-time work in these countries.
|COUNTRY||AVERAGE ANNUAL SALARY|
|New Zealand||£ 30,558.42|
|South Africa||£ 13,595.96|
|Singapore||£ 35, 873.53|
As we can see from the table, Switzerland has the highest average annual salary for full-time workers when converted into Pound Sterling, at £47,530.65, closely followed by the USA with £46,214.23.
Cost of Moving Abroad
There are a number of costs involved with moving permanently to another country. The total costs vary depending on where you’re moving to and from, and how many of your belongings you’re bringing. In short, the average cost of moving from the UK ranges between £1,000 and £5,000 depending on the size and destination you’re moving to.
The table below shows the average cost of moving a 3 bedroom home from the UK to some of the top countries.
|COUNTRY||AVERAGE COST OF MOVING|
|New Zealand||£ 4,750|
|South Africa||£ 1,550|
A lot of people consider downsizing their property and belongings when moving abroad in order to reduce the costs. But if you’re only going to be living abroad for a few months, you probably won’t need to bring everything you own with you. In this case, you’ll just need to think about your travel and any important items you’ll need during your time away.
International Moving Costs Breakdown
The costs of moving to another country can be broken down into individual costs, including:
- Packing costs – Robust packing materials needed for international travel.
- Export and customs paperwork – Essential documents commonly known as Customs Clearance Formality, to declare your goods to UK and overseas customs agents.
- Container shipping costs – These are charged based on the final volume of goods after packing. The two main methods are dedicated container services and shared container services.
- Storage – A lot of the time, people will store some of their furniture and belongings until they have settled into their new home.
- International moving insurance – Movers will offer insurance to cover you if any of your items are damaged or lost.
- Destination charge – The cost of handling at your destination to remove your goods from the container on arrival.
- Air freight costs – Air is typically the most expensive way to ship goods, but it can be used for essential items that you’ll need as soon as you arrive.
Tax Implications of Living Abroad
Working abroad will usually affect your taxes if you’re from the UK and you’re working abroad for longer than six months. After six months (183 days) your risk of becoming a tax resident of the country you’re living in will be much higher.
You’ll need to tell HMRC if you’re moving abroad from the UK permanently or if you’re going to work abroad full-time for at least one full tax year. You can do this by filling in form P85 and sending it to HMRC.
You will be liable for tax in the country where you have established tax residency. If you’re working abroad for a UK-based company, your employer may be required to register in that country in order to pay your taxes. If you’re working for a company based in your country of residence, you should pay income tax on your wages through your employer.
Issues a Brit Might Face Working Abroad
Since Brexit, there has been a lot of uncertainty around British nationals working in the EU due to the loss of free movement.
- In most EU countries you’ll need a visa or work permit if you’re staying for longer than 90 days in a 180 day period.
- Similar rules usually apply to non-EU countries, but each one will have its own visa system for those looking to work abroad.
- You’ll also need to obtain the relevant immigration permissions before you move to another country to work. Again, it’s best to seek advice from the country you’re looking to live in so you can ensure you meet the relevant criteria.
Affordable Cities to Live in for a Digital Nomad
With the rise in remote working over the last few years, being a digital nomad is one of the most flexible ways for people to work. 42% of people asked said they would like to use their employer’s remote work policy to work abroad.Whether you’re self-employed or working for a company, as long as you have a laptop and a stable internet connection, you can pretty much work from home while living abroad anywhere.But what are some affordable cities you could consider living in as a digital nomad?
Portugal is one of the most affordable countries to live in Europe. Lisbon has a strong community of digital nomads and a number of shared working spaces where you can meet and share ideas. You’ll need around €1,500 a month to live comfortably here, with many rental apartments available for around €500 a month. Lisbon, of course, has a great climate with more hours of sunshine than many of Europe’s other popular cities. So if you’re looking to work somewhere sunny and affordable, this is one to consider.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is a popular destination for travelers looking to work abroad, and Chiang Mai is one of the best cities in the world for digital nomads. It offers a number of co-working locations where you can spend time with other nomads, as well as reliable internet speeds.While Chiang Mai may not be quite as cheap as some cities in Thailand, it offers a high standard of living which is still affordable. It’s often referred to as the digital nomad capital of the world.
Croatia is looking to attract more with its new residence visa, so it’s a great option if you’re looking to explore another European country. The capital of Zagreb offers some great scenery and architecture as well as a low cost of living at approximately $800 a month for those looking to rent in the city.
Italy’s Visa program has no limit on the maximum amount of time you can stay, so it offers great flexibility for digital nomads. Milan is known as a centre of technology, finance and commerce, and has a wide range of co-working spaces ideal for people who are traveling and working in the city. You’ll also find a number of interesting cultural attractions in Milan including the Duomo di Milano.
If you’d like to enjoy trips around Latin America when you’re not working, Bogotá is a great city to base yourself in. Colombia offers high standards of healthcare and affordable living costs usually under $1000 a month.
You’ll also find plenty of opportunities to network and meet other digital nomads in the capital. If hiking and watersports are your thing, you won’t be short of activities to do here in your downtime.
 British Diaspora – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_diaspora
 Digital Nomad Index – https://www.standard.co.uk/business/digital-nomad-index-best-countries-work-from-home-b740968.html
 Long Term International Migration – https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/longterminternationalmigrationprovisional/yearendingjune2022#emigration-out-of-the-uk
 Global Expat Index https://www.globehunters.com.au/global-expat-index/
 Average Cost of Moving from the UK – https://www.shipit.co.uk/international-removals-costs.htm
 Working From Abroad https://hubblehq.com/blog/employees-want-to-work-from-abroad
 Best Places for Digital Nomads https://www.goworldtravel.com/best-places-for-digital-nomads/
 Cheapest Places for Digital Nomads https://nomadfinanceandfreedom.com/cheapest-places-for-digital-nomads/
 Working Abroad Current and Future Trends – https://www.pacificprime.com/blog/expats-working-abroad-current-and-future-trends.html
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License