Middle Eastern countries are rising rapidly up the table of desirable destinations for Brits moving abroad, according to figures by a leading international removals firm.
Data from Bristol-based 1st Move International show Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates becoming increasingly popular expat destinations, with the UAE displacing the likes of Canada and New Zealand at the upper end of the table.
Analysis of more than 40,000 international moves since 2019, including over 6,000 in 2023, paints a fascinating picture of where Brits are choosing to move to post-Covid.
As ever, the USA and Australia are at the very top of the list, with more than 1,000 moving to each destination this year alone. Next up is the UAE, which has climbed to third in the table, followed by Canada and New Zealand.
Cyprus jumps one place to sixth, with South Africa falling behind in seventh, before a static Singapore in eighth, Brazil in ninth and Saudi Arabia climbing one place to tenth.
Further down the table, big movers include Barbados, jumping 22 places to claim 18th place, Costa Rica up 22 to 23rd, the Bahamas up 21 to 25th, Trinidad and Tobago up 11 to 27th, Hong Kong up 12 to 32nd, Panama up 24 to 33rd and the Dominican Republic up 58 places to 35th.
Other popular destinations featuring in the top 40 include Turkey, Thailand, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Japan. 1st Move International does not operate in mainland European destinations.
Mike Harvey, managing director of 1st Move International, said: “We wouldn’t divulge individual reasons for moving, but anecdotally we are clear that our customers are citing many benefits of moving to destinations like the Middle East, as well as the Caribbean.
“An obvious one is the weather, with a dry and sunny climate all year round, alongside a high standard of living and an already large population of British expats to socialise with.
“Economically, there is significant development in countries like the UAE and Brits moving there can enjoy tax-free salaries in job sectors such as finance, healthcare and education.
“Inflation is currently sitting at just over 2.2%, which is much lower than the UK and other EU countries, with the Dirham being pegged to the US Dollar providing exchange rate stability.
“The Middle East is also a central location for travel to Europe as well as Asia and Australasia, making it a good base for travel-minded professionals.”
Mr Harvey explained that the increasing number of moves to desirable locations like the Caribbean could be due to people’s change in perceptions of what is possible, post Covid.
“To move a whole family abroad might be something of an undertaking,” he said. “But for many people without family ties the ability to work remotely means they can easily and practically live anywhere in the world. In fact, even moving with a family is not perceived as arduous a task as it used to be.
“We hear of people deciding they can make things work in a far-flung destination with a warm climate, blue skies and sunny beaches – coming back to the UK occasionally if necessary but generally based somewhere like Mexico, Bermuda or Thailand.
“And in an urban context, if you look at indexes like the Numbeo Quality of Life Survey then you’ll see places like Abu Dhabi rising rapidly up the scales.
“In terms of perception, something which 50 years ago might have seemed like a major life move can now be managed much more easily.”
The company said that while all moves are personal rather than corporate, many are often managed and reimbursed by employers as part of a business move abroad.
1st Move International are based in Avonmouth, Bristol and have been managing international removals for over 25 years.