The number was based on data contained in a Lloyds TSB International survey.
An estimated 5.5 million Britons are said to live abroad.
Among the reasons these expats say they are reluctant to come home are the cost of living in Britain, compared with where they are now, and the fact that they believe they would be less safe and enjoy a lower quality of life if they gave up their expatriate lifestyle, the survey – conducted online in September for Lloyds TSB International by FreshMinds Research – revealed.
Of those surveyed, 51% said the neighbourhood where they live now is safer than the one they lived in when back in Blighty, compared with only 13% who disagreed with the statement.
It is thus perhaps not surprising that the data shows expats are increasingly shelving plans to return to the UK at all – with the proportion who say they plan to live away from the UK indefinitely having leapt 13% in 12 months, to 69%.
Tony Wilcox, managing director of expatriate banking at Lloyds TSB International, said it was “worrying” that life in Britain appears so bleak when viewed through the eyes of expatriate Brits, given that they tend to have “an enlightening view of the UK, having experienced life both home and away”.
He added: “from economic woes to August’s riots, the UK has faced a catalogue of bad news in recent months. Coupled with expats’ view that the quality of life is higher and they are financially better-off abroad, it’s not surprising that so many have cancelled their plans to return to the UK.”
The survey was based on online interviews from a sample of some 1,034 British expats currently living in the 10 most popular expatriate destinations, including Australia, Spain, the US, Canada, France, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, the UAE and Hong Kong.
Expatshire ‘better for kids’
Among the survey’s other findings was that a majority of British expats believe their country of residence is a better place to raise children than Britain – “51% hold this view against only 11% who disagree,” Lloyds TSB International said, in a summary of the report’s findings.
The expats say the schools in their adopted countries are better, their neighbourhoods are safer, and there are more places for children to play and activities for them to do.
“Many expats [also] appreciate the chance that living abroad gives their children to experience another society and culture, while also learning a foreign language in most countries.”
In total, 68% of those surveyed told the Freshminds researchers that they were happier living abroad than they were in the UK, with only 7% saying they were less content.
Wilcox noted that these findings, when viewed together and with longer-term trends factored in, suggested that expatriates’ apparent increasing happiness with life overseas was reflecting the fact that “large groups of people in the UK are gradually becoming more outward-looking, with increased global travel, more international business and many people generally coming into more contact with other cultures”.
As a result, “it has become easier and a more natural transition for some people to settle in and enjoy life overseas than it would have been 20, even ten, years ago.”
For Lloyds TSB International, this is probably good news, though possibly also not a surprise: in a footnote to its report, it noted that it had opened more than 20,000 international bank accounts over the last 12 months, suggesting that expats are not only staying abroad instead of coming home, but are being joined by new arrivals.
For such newcomers, the bank offers financial tips and a checklist to help people with their emigration issues at www.lloydstsb-offshore.com.