Send My Bag Releases UK Expat Index

Monday, 10 Aug 2020

Send My Bag Releases UK Expat Index

We have conducted research into the ten most popular destinations among UK expats based on a list from the United Nations. In no particular order, the countries analysed are as follows: Australia, USA, Canada, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Germany and Italy.

Our intention is to rank the countries on ‘liveability’ for Britons who may wish to move abroad.

It is important to note that the data collected was recorded before the start of the pandemic and due to the constantly evolving situation, important liveability factors may have changed.

Of course, something important to one individual may not be so important to another. However, we feel that ranking the countries across a number of categories, as we have done, should create a general consensus and perhaps provide some inspiration to those who have always wanted to move, but unsure of where. 

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 favourable and 1 being the most favourable 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.

Without further ado, let’s dive into each category.

Average House Price

South Africa proved to be the cheapest option for buyers with an average house price of £676.41/m2. 

In comparison, the most expensive property to buy is in France where a house is priced £5128.31/m2 on average.

Cost of Rent

Rental prices are also cheapest in South Africa, costing 49% less than properties in the UK.

Ireland is the most expensive country for rent, coming in at 48% higher than the UK average. 

Unemployment Rate

Given the current economic landscape, prospects of finding a new job will be a vital factor for expats to consider when choosing their new home. 

Based on pre-COVID-19 conditions, Germany had the most job opportunities with an unemployment rate of only 3.2%.

Meanwhile, South Africa may have the lowest property prices, but unemployment sat at 27.32% before the crisis.


In terms of sunshine, South Africa is the leading expat destination with an average of 3141 hours of good weather per year.

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


While sunshine generally tends to make us happier, each of the 10 countries on our list were assessed across a number of variables including but not limited to: social support, healthy life expectancy and freedom to make life choices. 

Top of the happiness category sits New Zealand while South Africa is the lowest of our selection.

Cost of Living

We compared the cost of living in the United Kingdom to the other countries in our list across a range of common day to day activities such as eating out, grocery shopping, transport, and childcare.

Overall, the cost of living is cheapest in South Africa, 43% lower than the UK on average. 

Ireland seems to be the most expensive expat destination with prices generally 17% higher than the United Kingdom.

GDP per Capita

Ireland sits in the top spot here with South Africa at the bottom.

Average Annual Wage

Measured by looking at total income after taxes and divided by the total number of employees. The most lucrative country appears to be the USA with a purchasing power parity (PPP) of £63,093.

Meanwhile, South Africa sits at the bottom of our list with a PPP of $13,840.


The crime index on Numbeo provides an estimation out of 100 of overall level of crime in a given city or country based on survey of visitors to the website.

South Africa had a score of 77.33, which means its designated crime rate is ‘high’. A score of over 80 would be ‘very high’.

Spain had the lowest rate at 32.36 which is listed as ‘low’.


Each country was rated out of 100 based on surveys from visitors to the. Numbeo website. The biggest weight is given to air pollution.

Here we found South Africa to be the worst country for pollution while the best country was Australia.

Difficulty of Language

It is no surprise here that English speaking countries such as the USA scored maximum points in this category. 

Britons may wish to take up language courses if they wish to move to European countries such as Germany which may just be worth the effort given the low unemployment rate in the country.

Average Flight Time to the UK

Just because you move abroad does not mean you will never return home and the shortest flight time is of course desirable. Therefore, we felt this was an important factor to include in our liveability ranking. 

Using calculations from Skyscanner, we found that France offered the quickest flight time of 1 hour 10 minutes from Paris to London. 

The longest flight was from Wellington in New Zealand with a flight duration to London of 26 hours 5 minutes.

Cost of McDonald’s Meal

Food, surely one of the most important factors. We found that South Africa had the lowest costing McMeal (or equivalent combo meal) at only £2.81.

France had the most expensive meal at £7.58.

Cost of a Pint

Britons are known for their fondness of pubs and pints and our guess is that if you’re thinking of a new home, you’ll want to know the cost of a pint. 

South Africa was the cheapest here at only £1.41 while the highest costing pint of lager was in France at £5.35.

Cost of Shipping Luggage 

At £174 per 30kg, New Zealand and South Africa are the most expensive destinations to transport your belongings to or from the UK. 

It costs only £26.76 to ship 30kg to Ireland or only £31 to France if you’re wanting to move somewhere a little more sun kissed.

Want to find out the rating of each of the included countries? Why not check out our UK Expat Index results.

The UK Expat Index was also covered in the British press recently:

The Daily Mail said The USA is the top destination for Britons looking to move abroad

The Daily Express covered how Spain isn’t number one

HR News covered the most popular expat destinations ranked on ‘liveability’ for Brits

What do you think of our Expat Index? Let us know by joining the conversation on our Instagram Page or LinkedIn.

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