The best place for british expats in 2023

Written by Nick Grant


Published on 20th February 2023


Last Updated on 23rd February 2024


Read time: 6 minutes

expat guide

On a dull and rainy UK day, it’s easy to understand why so many of us decide to go and live abroad. The search for sunshine is just one of many reasons why 90,000 British nationals left the country to live overseas in the year ending June 20221.

Are you considering becoming an expat? Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s a realistic option in these post-Brexit days. The shadow of the pandemic still looms over us, too, creating more uncertainty.

The good news is that moving overseas can still be manageable, whether you’re planning to retire or pursuing a job opportunity. Admittedly, it’s less straightforward than it used to be pre-Brexit, especially when relocating to EU countries. However, with patience and attention to detail, such as visas and residence permits, you can achieve your dream.

The big question is… where’s the best for you?

At Intasure, we have vast experience in providing property insurance solutions for expats. We understand the issues and speak to lots of Brits abroad. So, let’s lay out the options for making your “home away from home” in 2023, starting with an overview.

Where do British expats live now?

According to movehub.com2, the top ten countries with British expat populations in 2019 were:

  1. Australia – 1,262,204
  2. USA – 716,260
  3. Canada – 531,584
  4. Spain – 302,020
  5. Ireland – 293,061
  6. New Zealand – 272,436
  7. France – 176,672
  8. South Africa – 131,310
  9. Germany – 98,553
  10. Italy – 65,645

What are the best places for British expats to move to?

The figures reveal a split between nearby European countries, especially Spain, and the further-flung nations in the “Anglosphere”, such as Australia. A lot depends on your reasons for deciding to live in another country.

Where would be good to live as an expat? It all depends. Do you want to retire somewhere warm and sunny with a more relaxed lifestyle or a lower cost of living? Are you keen to make regular visits back home? Perhaps you’ve accepted a job overseas or seen better prospects beyond the UK. People also cross borders to secure a better education for their children or let them grow up closer to nature.

What is the easiest place for expats to move to?

In Europe, Ireland and the Netherlands have sheer proximity on their side. Travel to and from either is quick and easy, with short flights and frequent ferry crossings. Ireland is English-speaking, English is also widely and fluently spoken by Dutch people.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand may be much further away, but moving there also means there’s no need to learn a new language — except in French-speaking Quebec in Canada!

The visa process can also be more straightforward in Commonwealth countries, such as Canada and Australia. It can be more complicated getting the necessary paperwork to live in an EU nation now. In fact, since Brexit, UK citizens are restricted to stays of 90 days maximum during any 180-day period3, and you need a residence permit to live in most EU nations permanently. The precise arrangements vary from country to country, but they’re rarely too complicated.

Which country has the best healthcare for expats?

France could be considered the winner, based on access to high-quality healthcare. Anyone who has a permanent residence permit and has lived on French soil for at least three consecutive months can benefit from the state-funded healthcare system, which is widely recognised as one of the world’s best.

It’s not like the British NHS, however. Patients often must pay for treatment upfront and then claim back the cost from the state insurance fund.

The best places to move abroad for work

Dubai and the other six states which form the United Arab Emirates are becoming more expat-friendly.

Around a quarter of a million Brits now call it home4, so English is widely spoken and is the main business language. Another significant advantage is the absence of income tax, although this is balanced out by a relatively high cost of living.

Moving to Australia could also be financially beneficial if you continue working and earning. Salaries are generally higher than in the UK. Shorter working hours and plentiful public holidays also make Australia an attractive place to pursue your career.

Somewhere tropical, such as Barbados or another West Indian island, is also worth considering. Perfect if you work as a freelancer and clients are happy to receive your work digitally. The climate’s beautiful, the beaches are enticing, and the low cost of living can help to stretch your earnings further.

The best place to move for cost of living

Malaysia may not spring to most people’s minds as a possible relocation destination, but the tropical climate is by no means its only attraction. It’s also a country where English is widely spoken, especially in larger cities.

What about the Malay cost of living? Take Penang, for example. It’s the second largest conurbation in the country after Greater Kuala Lumpur and a thriving industrial centre. According to cost of living database Numbeo5, a couple can live comfortably there for around £1,200 per month, with rent on a one-bedroom city centre apartment at about £300 per month. Monthly utility bills are often less than £100.

The best place to move abroad for weather

It’s no accident and no surprise that Spain is so popular with UK expats. Most of us know it well from a lifetime of holidays, and the sunny weather speaks for itself. In the southeast of the mainland around Alicante, for example, there’s very little rain. and often you can wear shorts and t-shirts all year round.

If you’re working remotely, the fact that there’s little time difference with the UK is another boon.

What else do you need to consider before moving abroad?

Finances can be complicated when you’re moving to a new country, but they don’t have to be. For example, at Intasure we can help simplify matters with over 15 years’ experience providing insurance for properties abroad.

Our products include Expat Home Insurance if you own a home abroad, and Expat Landlord Insurance for cover if you rent out a property in the UK while living abroad.

As you plan your move overseas, you may have important questions about your property insurance options. Feel free to talk to our dedicated UK-based, English-speaking customer service team. Just call 0345 111 0680 or get a quote online.



The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

Nick Grant is a Business Development Manager at Intasure with 10 years of insurance experience.