The most popular expat destinations

  • Moving trends
Published 9 months ago

Where is everyone moving to, and why? Anyone thinking of moving abroad will, of course, have their own reasons for moving – according to MoveHub's report on global moving trends, 30% of respondents think that cost of living is the most important thing to consider before moving, with 50% claiming they moved for better employment opportunities. We look at the most popular destinations to move to.

Nisha Sawon

Editorial staff

Most popular destinations


The UK has taken over from France as the most popular expat destination, according to MoveHub, despite 22% fewer people moving there. However, it also takes the top spot for countries people are leaving. Part of this is down to Brexit, which has seen European expats living in the UK keen to leave amid uncertainty over their future in the country, while British expats in the EU have begun to return for the same reason. There was a notable increase in expats returning to the UK from Spain in particular. In spite of this, it appears London exists in its own bubble, separate from the impact of Brexit (for now), as it has moved into the top five to become the second most popular city to move to.

Although Ireland has moved down one position to ninth overall, people are continuing to move to Dublin, as it is the fifth most popular city. This may be a result of uncertainty over the future of London and the career opportunities it affords once Brexit takes place. Dublin, however, remains close to the UK and the rest of Europe, and has the benefit of being part of the EU, so those hoping to obtain residency there will be able to move freely throughout the EU.

The large number of people moving to Australia has seen it movve up two places to become the second most popular destination, with its warm climes and global cities that provide ample job opportunities. However, Melbourne has been pushed out of the top cities, leaving just Sydney in third place. Nonetheless, its perceived stability compared to the US post-Trump and the UK post-Brexit may make it popular with those after an English-speaking destination.

The US is again in third place, though MoveHub notes a 10% descrease in enquiries about moving to the country. A quarter of those asked noted that the Trump presidency had put them off moving to the US. Furthermore, travel bans imposed on individuals from certain Middle Eastern countries have made moving to the US an impossibility for those living there. In spite of all this, New York City (like London) has held its own to remain the most popualr city to move to. Again, like London, its popularity as a diverse, financial capital has not waned.

Emerging destinations

Nouvelle Zelande

Holding onto seventh spot, New Zealand has seen itself emerge as a top choice destination for expats around the world. Its peaceful, scenic setting, mild climate and stable government has attracted those seeking a more laid-back lifestyle. This contrasts with the appeal of the UK and US, for example, which are both home to hectic global financial hubs. The implication of New Zealand's recent rise in popularity suggests that a perceived relaxed lifestyle plays a role in the attractiveness of a country.

France has dropped down from first place last year to sixth, with the French territories of Reunion and Guadeloupe making up numerous places in the rankings. France also comes in at number two in the top countries from which people are departing. This implies that those in France (likely retirees) are keen to move to other Francophone countries with a laid-back lifestyle and a warmer climate (and more beaches, presumably).