With the uncertainty of Brexit looming and the cost of living in the UK rising ever higher (£1,716.61 on average per month, according to recent figures), it’s no surprise thousands of Brits are leaving our shores. More than 100,000 UK residents have upped sticks since the EU referendum, not only in search of stable jobs and a better society, but some much-needed sunshine too. Want in? Here are some of the best-rated countries for expats you may not have considered…
Volcanoes, jungles, beautiful coastlines… Costa Rica is a nature-lovers dream. No surprise, then, that the country made it into the top five ‘dream destinations’ for expats in a recent survey. It may be well known as one of the world’s premier retirement destinations, but Costa Rica appeals to expats from all walks of life – 19% of ‘happy’ expats living there are entrepreneurs or business owners, 20% have a part-time job, while 14% are retirees. Along with the stunning views, expats cite the kindness of the locals as one of the main reasons they love living in there.
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in Costa Rica is £1,125.60.
What jobs are going? Finding a job in Costa Rica isn’t always easy. The most widely available jobs for foreigners are teaching English or working in the telemarketing sector, but many choose to start their own businesses.
Can anyone move there? Foreigners must apply for permission to work and for temporary or permanent residence if they're planning on staying for over 90 days.
A popular destination for Western Europeans, Vietnam was voted the eighth happiest place in the world for expats to live. Its high score is down to the fact you can live pretty decadently on a low wage (by Western standards). Then there’s the incredible scenery, fun-filled activities and hidden places to explore. If you’re after city life, Hanoi is considered one of the best places for expats to move to.
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in Vietnam is £842.55.
What jobs are going? Vietnam has growing job opportunities in the not-for-profit international development field.
Can anyone move there? All British nationals need to obtain a Vietnamese visa and are required to register their presence with the local police. British Nationals working in Vietnam for three months or more require a work permit and an appropriate work visa.
New York often comes top of our ‘I’d love to work in…’ lists, but thanks to Trump’s new immigration policy, Canada is far more appealing than America right now. High quality healthcare, natural environment, high school standards and financial security are all reasons expats say they have a great quality of life in Canada (it even topped a 2011 poll as the best place for Brits to move abroad to).
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in Canada is £1,619.26.
What jobs are going? Vancouver’s rapidly growing tech sector has Silicon Valley-style appeal.
Can anyone move there? You can apply for immigration to Canada on an independent visa (which uses a points-based system), an employment visa or a family visa.
The most popular choice for North American and Canadian expats, Mexico is attracting Brits to its sunny climes too. Offering large cities and off-the-grid villages, there are so many places to choose from – the pretty town of San Miguel de Allende and the cosmopolitan hub Mérida are both hits with expats. The country ranks number one when it comes to ease of settling in, and also ranks highly for weather conditions and friendliness.
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in Mexico is £669.44.
What jobs are going? Many UK nationals choose to teach English, but competition is fierce and salaries are often low. Starting your own business is a popular option.
Can anyone move there? You can apply for temporary resident visas (the most popular type among expats, which last up to four years) or permanent resident visas, which have higher income requirements.
Expats voted The Philippines the fourth happiest place to live, with families ranking it highest thanks to a friendly attitude towards children and the low cost of living and childcare. Manila is considered one of the best places to be an expat in the Philippines due to its welcoming attitude towards different cultures and a whole host of culinary hotspots and must-visit shops.
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in the Philippines is £629.96.
What jobs are going? Manila has a large community of expat entrepreneurs and start-up businesses – especially in the tech sector.
Can anyone move there? To live, work, or study in the Philippines, you’ll need to contact the Philippine Embassy in London or the Bureau of Immigration to apply for a visa.
Money goes a long way for expats in Thailand, as food, transport, and accommodation are cheap compared to Western countries. This, along with the ease of living and myriad fun activities, is why Thailand was voted the seventh happiest place for expats to live. Look to Chiang Mai for a slower pace of life and a temperate climate, Koh Samui for a tropical island heaven, or Bangkok for modern city living.
How expensive is it? The average monthly cost of living in Thailand is £943.59.
What jobs are going? From exporting goods to marketing consultancy, start-up businesses are a popular choice for expats in Thailand. Trying your hand at being a diving instructor is surprisingly lucrative too.
Can anyone move there? You should contact your nearest Thai embassy where staff will be able to advise you on the types of visas available, residence permits and more.
Thanks to job growth in various sectors, beautiful natural surroundings, warm weather and low living costs, Kenya is becoming increasingly popular with expats. It came in 15th on the happiest countries for expats list, although ranks much lower when it comes to safety and security. For expats, Kenya’s capital city Nairobi is the place to be – families often settle in the affluent suburb Karen, while the Westlands neighbourhood boasts a more diverse community and a whole host of lively shops, restaurants and bars.
How expensive is it? The cost of living index in Nairobi, Kenya, is 52.3% lower than in London.
What jobs are going? Many expats working in Nairobi are employed as embassy staff or as foreign assignees in multinational companies (global players like BASF, Google, Heineken and Toyota often transfer management staff to their East African headquarters).
Can anyone move there? Due to recent changes in immigration law, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there, so talk to your closest Kenyan embassy to get up-to-date details on the type of visa you’ll need.
While Brits have long made the move to Australia, nearby New Zealand is now gaining popularity as an expat destination. Beautiful landscapes, peacefulness, good healthcare and quality education are all reasons why the country was voted the sixth happiest place for expats to live. The country's major northern city, Auckland, is a popular choice – boasting a superyacht-filled harbour, a spectacular park based around an extinct volcano and the sandy Mission Bay Beach with its charming promenade.
How expensive is it? The cost of living index in Auckland, New Zealand, is 3.98% lower than in London.
What jobs are going? New Zealand are currently short of people with skillsets in engineering, construction, health and social services, environmental research, electronics and hospitality.
Can anyone move there? There are a few different types of visas. If you don’t have a job offer already, you can can apply for an entrepreneur visa, a skilled migrant visa or a job search visa – you’re more likely to be considered if you have skill sets they’re short of, like the above.