Hard pressed Brits set to up-sticks for family life abroad

Poor work/life balance and poor pay and benefits are biggest drivers from UK for aspiring expats

18 February 2014

Posted in Product

New research from AXA PPP International into people planning to move abroad, compared with the experiences of established expats, suggests that the face of the British expat is changing.

A far cry from the high flying, single expats of yesteryear who were motivated by the promise of well-paid jobs, only 13% of today’s aspiring expats are aiming to travel solo, compared with three times this figure (41%) of their predecessors who are now living abroad. And, with 45% planning to relocate as families with children, perhaps surprisingly a sizeable proportion (39%) of aspiring expats have no jobs lined up for their arrival.

Highlighting the change in rationale for moving, would-be expats cited dissatisfaction with quality of life in the UK – with poor work/life balance (17%), poor pay and benefits (13%), climate (10%) and poor economic outlook (9%) ranking as the main reasons – whereas 52% of their established counterparts (55% of whom relocated five or more years ago) left the UK behind for the lure of new career opportunities.

Headshot of Andrew Coombs, AXA PPP International managing director (and a former expat himself)

This research suggests a sea-change in the mind-set of the British expat. Close to half of those established expats we surveyed had travelled alone and been mainly motivated by new job prospects. Many of today’s aspiring expats, however, will be relocating with their partners and children and their perceived dissatisfaction with life in the UK and their ambition for a better quality of life are driving their considerations.

It’s also interesting to note that aspiring expats’ perception of the UK economy ranks among their main reasons for looking for a new life overseas, yet Europe – whose popular expat strongholds Spain, Portugal and Greece have all been victims of property price crashes, rocketing living costs and struggling economies – remains their lead relocation destination.

Andrew Coombs, Managing Director (and a former expat himself) at AXA PPP International

Fewer than a third of aspiring expats are thinking of moving to Asia. With the continent’s growing economies, is it time for those thinking of relocating to do their research and look a little further afield than Europe? Global mobility is constantly improving access to emerging markets where Brits can benefit from more affordable accommodation and a higher standard of living as well as seeing the lifestyle change that they are looking for.

While quality of life remains high on the agenda, what happens once relocation takes place is also important. AXA PPP International’s research highlights that 25% of aspiring expats aren’t planning on learning the local language, yet 43% plan to socialise within their new local community.

We are encouraged by the confidence of the aspiring expats. However, before relocating we encourage them to consider what life will be like in their new destination. Experience suggests that a third of expats return to the UK earlier than planned for reasons including financial difficulties, lack of social interaction, cultural difficulties and missing home – proving a need to carefully consider your options both before leaving, and after you’ve left.

Andrew Coombs, Managing Director (and a former expat himself) at AXA PPP International