Best countries for UK expats

Research by leading international door-to-door luggage delivery service, Send My Bag, has revealed that USA is the top expat destination for Brits looking to move abroad.

Send My Bag’s ‘Expat Index’ analyzed the United Nation’s list of the ten most popular destinations among UK expats; Australia, USA, Canada, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Germany and Italy. The USA came top with a score of 9.42 out of a possible 15, followed by Canada with a score of 9.27, then Spain with a score of 9.02. France rounds off the top ten with the lowest total score of 6.76 out of 15.

Results were compiled on a sliding scale of 0-1 across 15 key characteristics that define a popular expat destination, with 0 being the least favorable and 1 being the most favorable score.

The 15 liveability categories include: cost of living, GDP per capita, happiness, average flight time to the UK, unemployment rate, average annual wage, average house price, weather, crime, pollution, cost of rent, difficulty of language, cost of McDonald’s meal, cost of pint, and cost of shipping luggage.

Cost of housing

South Africa proved to be the cheapest option for both renters and buyers, with house prices on average costing £676.41/m2, followed by Spain. Again, South Africa is the cheapest expat destination to rent, with prices costing 49% less than in the UK, while Italy is the second cheapest at 26% below the British market.

In comparison, the cost of buying a property is highest in France. Meanwhile, Ireland is the most expensive country for rent, coming in at 48% higher than the UK average.

Job prospects

Job prospects will be an important factor for expats when choosing their new home, particularly in the current economic landscape. Judging by pre-COVID-19 conditions, Germany had the most job opportunities with an unemployment rate of 3.2% – although language may be a barrier – followed by USA where unemployment was also low at 3.87%. 

South Africa had the poorest job prospects with unemployment at 27.32% before the pandemic, and the lowest PPP of $13,840. Spain had the second worst unemployment rate (14.7%) and PPP ($38,761).


For sunseekers, South Africa is the leading expat destination with an average of 3141 hours of sunshine per year across major cities nationally. Australia and USA are the second and third sunniest destinations respectively with an average of 2836 hours and 2804 hours of sunshine.

Ireland and Germany are the least sunny countries in the top ten list, with 1453 and 1644 hours of sunshine on average each.

Cost of living

Overall, the cost of living is cheapest in South Africa, 43% lower than the UK across a range of common products and services. At 17% cheaper than the UK, Spain is the second most economic expat destination for cost of living.

In comparison, Ireland ranked as the most expensive expat destination at 17% higher than the market rate in the UK, followed by France (15%) and Australia (14%).

Most importantly though, Brits can find the cheapest pints in South Africa for £1.41 and in Spain for £2.23, and enjoy a McDonald’s meal for just £2.81 in South Africa or in Canada which has the second cheapest McDonald’s meal at £5.88.

Cost of shipping luggage

At £174 per 30kg, New Zealand and South Africa are the most expensive destinations to transport your belongings to from the UK, compared with Ireland which costs just £26.76 to ship 30kg and Germany and France which cost £31, making them the cheapest countries to relocate to.