While a majority of British voters have chosen to leave the European Union, a study conducted by the participative website Expat.com reveals that the UK remains the country hosting the largest contingent of young French expats seeking for professional opportunities abroad. Indeed, 13.5% of Expat.com French members under 35 years of age and registered after January 2015 declared they lived in Britain. Australia, Spain and the USA come next, each hosting 5% of those French expats. According to Julien Faliu, founder of Expat.com: "This finding is not surprising. The economic vitality of the country, its geographical proximity to France, easy conditions of residence and smooth job search process are undeniable advantages that attract French people who want to boost their career or enhance their level of English. But the referendum could change everything in the coming years."
In this time of uncertainty, young French people's concerns are exacerbated, particularly regarding the new conditions of residence, employment and access to the social security that will be implemented after the UK officially leaves the EU. However, the situation calls on us to consider whether other countries could benefit from this new situation and attract more expats. "At the moment, the UK cannot be challenged by any other country" Julien Faliu said. "Work is one of the main reasons for moving abroad. As long as London keeps its economic drive, things are not likely to change. Some expats even believe that the Brexit could bring new business opportunities to the country."
All in all, it all boils down to economical matters. Fifth most popular destination with 4% of young French expatriates living on the other side of the Rhine, and main trading partner of France, Germany has plenty of potential and could even become one of the next top destinations for French expats. The problem is that only 15% of French people are studying German at school while 99% are studying English, Spanish being the second most taught language in France with 50% of the students taking Spanish courses during their schooling. Spain however cannot compete economically with England at the moment.
Other top expat destinations like Australia (number 2), the United States (number 4), China (number 6) and Canada (number 7) have the disadvantage of being geographically distant with, for some, stringent visa regimes.
Tenth most popular destination among young French expats, Ireland could well become the true winner. The island only draws 3% of the young French expatriates at the moment, but the country has enjoyed a steady growth over the past two years. Many global businesses like Google, Microsoft or Apple even have their European headquarters in the country. The Brexit could prompt many companies seeking to stay within the EU to settle in Ireland and, in their wake, many young French expats. "However, London remains very popular among young French people" Julien Faliu added. "If rules for residing in the UK should drastically change, many expats would return to France with a heavy heart".