About 5.6 million Britons now live abroad permanently, with another 500,000 living abroad for part of the year, according to the Foreign Office.
The vast majority, are young working people, in the 25-44 age group, says Tim Finch, co-author of a report, Global Brit: Making the most of the British diaspora.
The next biggest group are in the 45-59 age bracket.
“Very few are going out to do nothing,” points out Finch, communications director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, the think-tank which published the report. Do they integrate with the societies in which they find themselves? “Pensioners are the least-integrated migrant community,” he says.
In Anglophone countries, “integration is very good ... it’s hardly worth talking about. “We’re bad at speaking other languages, we only speak English ... it is easier to integrate in English speaking countries.”
The Global Brit study found that emigrants integrated better in Bulgaria and the US than in Spain and Dubai, while the result for India was mixed. Why?
“Bulgaria was a nascent community, cheap property, nice environment ... it was advertised as a nice home,” Finch explains. “If you can’t afford France or Spain, then it made sense. In Bulgaria you have to integrate as they don’t speak English and you need to learn a bit of Bulgarian.”
There is now a big increase in Britons going to China, where opportunities didn’t exist 10 years ago, a shift that Finch says might increase to economically developing countries such as India or Brazil.
A recent survey by currency dealer Moneycorp found that nine out of ten British expats said that they would continue to live abroad, with a quarter of respondents saying that they would rather move to another country than consider moving back to the UK.