Australia tops list of the best destinations for British expats

Saturday, 10 August 2013

'I miss rolling hills and Bovril… but I get to spend weekends on Bondi beach'.

Graduating from Nottingham University into one of the worst economic downturns for decades, Sarah Cornish knew she would face an uphill struggle to find a good job.

But just a couple of years later the 23-year-old is working for one of the most prestigious ad agencies in the world, dealing with international clients – and spending her weekends basking in the sun on the beach.

Moving from the UK to Sydney was a no brainer.

Sarah is just one of thousands of Britons who would agree that Australia offers the best quality of life for British expats. 

The country has retained the top spot in the NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life report, followed by Canada and the UAE.

Over eight in ten (84 per cent) British expats in Australia say the weather is one of the top five reasons for living there and 92 per cent of expats cite the overall lifestyle keeps them in Australia. 

Seventy-three per cent of expats say their health has improved whilst living there, while 82 per cent of British expats in Australia cite the natural environment and quality of life for their children as the number one reason for moving there. 

‘I’d be lucky to get a job as a coffee girl at the same agency in London,’ she says. ‘But in Sydney there are a lot more career prospects. The economy is more isolated so it doesn’t have the same reliance on Europe or America.’

‘I can get the ferry to work, go to the beach at the weekend, and take day trips to Uluru (Ayres Rock) or a  jungle. And the weather – I know people always talk about the weather, but it makes such a difference. I think I’d really struggle now to wake up to a grey and dark morning.’

But Sarah adds that everything is twice as expensive as living in the UK – although wages are about double as well so it balances out. And while there are beaches and sun, there is no substitute for a Sunday walk through the Yorkshire countryside – followed by a cup of Bovril or tea.

While there are many job opportunities, getting a visa to work is becoming more difficult, particularly for those  working in professions where there is not currently a skills shortage in Australia. 

The poll also revealed the United Arab Emirates is becoming increasingly popular with Britons living abroad.

Over the last four years the UAE has steadily crept up the table. Meanwhile traditional expat communities in places such as France, Spain and Portugal are becoming less popular. 

In 2010, the Middle Eastern country was ranked 10th, it crept up to the ninth position in 2011 and sixth in 2012.

Britons living in the country benefit from tax-free incomes and many who move there boast that they can enjoy privileged lifestyles that they could not afford in the UK.

Some of the most popular expat destinations include Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with many seeking employment in oil, construction, banking or tourism.

A NatWest IPB spokeswoman said that 75 per cent of expats living in the UAE said that career opportunities was the main reason behind their move.

But only 8 per cent of the 149 people polled said they plan to stay in the UAE forever.

The survey found that 63 per cent of expats in Europe were considering returning to the UK because of falling property prices, austerity measures and fears over job security.

'The most notable shifts in our Quality of Life results this year is the rise of the UAE as an expat destination,' said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

'The once loved traditional expat communities of France, Spain and Portugal are diminishing, with quality of life drastically reducing for expats living there, making way for newcomers such as UAE and Singapore.

'It seems expats are willing to adjust their lifestyle in exchange for a stronger economy and better job opportunities.'

Reports suggest that in 2010 only 16.5 per cent of the 8.2 million people living in the UAE were Emiratis.

Jordan Tilley, head of alliance partnerships for UK and Europe at UKForex, suggested now could be an optimal time to emigrate from Britain to the antipodean shores.

‘In the heady pre-recession heyday of 2007, the Aussie dollar was priced at a whopping 2.54 AUDGBP to the pound,’ he said.  'After the financial crisis the rate fell to 1.4000 as interest rates in major economies, including the UK were slashed and money pumped in to the economy. 

‘Chinese demand for Australian commodity exports remained strong however which meant the local economy benefited and interest rates in Australia were kept high.  This attracted more money and the Australian dollar strengthened.  Today the Aussie dollar is at a three year low against the pound at a rate of around 0.8880 AUDGBP as signs appear that the Chinese economy might be slowing. 

'For UK migrants leaving British stores for sunnier climes, this is a rare opportunity to get the best deal when exchanging money from the UK to Australia.’ 

By Rachel Rickard Straus

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