Waving goodbye to the UK – who is emigrating, and where are they going?

29 October 2015

One Way Travel Travel Insurance

There is always much debate about immigration coming into the UK, but there are of course a significant number of people who choose to leave the UK. Last year, 323, 000 people made the life-changing decision to leave the UK and relocate elsewhere , according to the Government’s ONS (Office of National Statistics). These figures are made up of people leaving these shores for many different reasons, but most have the desire to start a new life elsewhere, in the hope that it will improve their lifestyle and their choices in life.

“Why do people leave Blighty? The statistics suggest most of them want a better job and life prospects. Work-related reasons continue to be the main reason given for emigration, accounting for 56% of emigrants. “

Other reasons cited included the end of a study program, retirement to the sun, or to join relatives living elsewhere around the globe.  Emigration reached its peak in 2008 at the start of the Financial Crisis, and the number of emigrants has stayed about the same over the last few years.

Emigration Nation: who are the thousands fleeing Britain each year? , The Telegraph 21/05/2015

Back in 2013, I wrote an article looking at the statistics of who was buying our one-way policies, and where they were going to, and heading away from in the UK. As two years have now passed, I thought it was a good idea to revisit the stats for the previous quarter, and compare the results of the analysis. Are people heading to the same places that they were two years ago? Are families more or less inclined to take the plunge now? Has the average age of a UK emigrant changed in that time? After much report-generating, data collection and number crunching, the results are ready to share.

Where are people going to?

2013 2015
Australia 74% 45%
New Zealand 7% 16%
Canada 5% 2%
Singapore 2% 1%
Europe 2% 7%
USA 2% 15%
Japan 2% Less than 1%


Here is the Most Popular destination list for 2015:

Australia   45%

New Zealand   16%

USA   15%

Europe   7%

Canada   2%

Hong Kong   2%

Spain   2%

Singapore   1%

Cambodia   1%

Cayman islands   1%

Thailand   1%

The Philipines   1%

China   1%

Bahrain  1%


Germany was the most-frequently cited European destination, followed by Italy and France at level-pegging, with Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland making up the rest of the data. Some of the more unusual destinations (some of which I had to google!) that were listed as the ‘final destination’ when travellers bought a policy, were The Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Macau.

There are some interesting things that have been thrown up by the comparison with the current and past data, most notably the large downward trend for those emigrating to Australia, and the upward trend for people emigrating to the USA and New Zealand.

Australia is still the most popular emigration destination, but it is nowhere near as popular as it was in 2013, when 3/4 of all the people taking out an emigration policy, were heading there.  It clearly still has the irresistible lure of sun, sandy beaches, and surf, but it’s economy has been suffering in recent years. The Australian economy has been struggling after many years of boom exploiting their mineral exports and exporting to Asian markets. Commodity prices have tumbled, there are sky-high property prices and a recession is on the horizon, many UK emigrants may not want to risk the relative recovery of the UK economy by branching out to a country currently undergoing turbulent times. Of those who do wish to emigrate, many are now lured by the attractions of what other countries have to offer, and Australia appears to have less of the dominance that it once had.

Clearly though,  fortunes have reversed for the resilient superpower of the USA, and the evergreen big, open spaces of New Zealand.  It is also interesting that Germany is the most popular one-way destination for Brits emigrating closer to home in Europe, rather than the traditionally favoured Spain and France.

Every year, HSBC undertake an Expat Explorer survey of people who have emigrated all round the world, and compile the data to reflect the experiences who have made the big move.  In their 2015 League Table, Singapore reigns supreme, closely followed by New Zealand, Germany is 5th and the USA is 16th. All of these locations, are higher placed than the UK in 23rd, Australia lies in 7th. It does make very interesting reading to have a look at the respective strengths and weaknesses of the different countries in terms of different criteria including ‘economic’, ‘lifestyle’ and ‘education and childcare’.  If you’re pondering the very important decision about where to put down new roots, then the report is a very informative place to get an overview on different places. Take a look.


Where are people leaving from?

  2013 2015
Scotland 33% 10%
The West Country 21% 12%
Kent 12% 3%
The Nottingham area 9% Less than 1%
Yorkshire 6% 6%
Wales 6% 4%
Surrey 6% 4%
London 1% 13%


Here are the Most Frequent Locations to be Leaving from in 2015:

London   13%

The West Country   12%

Scotland   10%

Yorkshire  6%

Surrey   4%

Lancashire   4%

Wales   4%

Midlands   4%

Kent   3%

Staffordshire   3%

Hampshire   3%

Essex   3%

The North East 2%

Northern Ireland   2%

Manchester   2%

East Sussex    2%

West Sussex   2%

Lincolnshire   2%

Cheshire   2%

Derbyshire   2%


Looking at the data, it is clear that significantly less people are leaving from Scotland, the West Country, Kent, and the Nottingham area, than they were in 2013. It seems that there is now a more even spread of people emigrating from across the UK, but one place that noticeably more people are leaving from, is our capital, London.  Back in 2014, a mere 1% were leaving from London, and this has now risen to 13%, and the area that most people are leaving behind. London is a cosmopolitan city, that attracts temporary visitors from around the world, to work and study. But , clearly, the exodus must also include those born and bred in the UK too, and this article explores the reasons that many are now leaving London, either for somewhere else in the UK, or further afield.  In a nutshell, it seems that London has just got too big, too expensive and too relentless for many, who want a more affordable and less intense way of life.


Is it men or women?

  2013 2015
Male 48% 42%
Female 52% 58%

Back in 2013, 4% more females than males were leaving the UK, the gender imbalance is still the case in 2015, but the difference between the two, has actually quadrupled to a difference of 16% in 2015. Clearly, women are gaining in confidence and opportunity in relation to emigration and long-term travel abroad. Although the reasons for the gender shift aren’t wholly clear, it could be that women are more likely to take insurance out, and also that as work opportunities in traditionally masculine fields in Australia (like mining) are diminishing, perhaps less men are now taking the plunge.


Who are people leaving with?

  2013 2015
Solo 43% 54%
Couple 25% 25%
Family 32% 21%


It is interesting that the proportion of people travelling as a couple, has remained exactly the same, whilst solo-emigrants have increased by 11% and family emigrants have decreased by 11%. Perhaps this points to the fact that less families are uprooting their lives in the UK and transplanting them to elsewhere in the world, but individuals are increasingly moving to exploit the career and economic benefits available elsewhere?  It is undoubtedly a huge upheaval for anyone to emigrate, but this is undoubtedly massively increased when you also have children. There are the obvious extra logistical factors such as schooling or childcare, but also the emotional upheaval of moving to a whole new culture, lifestyle, and possible language, too. Families have to be totally committed to such a monumental change, and it is relatively easy for solo travellers to take the plunge.


What age are the people who are travelling?  

  2013 2015
19 or below 2% Under 1%
20’s 38% 36%
30’s 38% 37%
40’s 18% 14%
50’s 2% 4%
60’s 2% 6%


Here is the entire list of the most common ages for people who are emigrating, in 2015:

In their 30’s   37%

In their 20’s   36%

In their 40’s    14%

In their 60’s    6%

In their 50’s    4%

In their 70’s    3%

In their 80’s   Less than 1%

19 or below   Less than 1%


We looked at the ages of all of the adults on our emigration policies to generate the data. The most popular ages to strike out and relocate, remain the 20’s and 30’s, as they did in 2013. Changes indicate that less people in their 40’s are now opting to move abroad, and more people are now emigrating at a later stage in their lives – in their 50’s and 60’s. Some of these older emigrants are leaving the UK to reunite with younger family members who have already made the move, and they want to be physically close to their family again. Others have reached retirement age, and want to spend the rest of their life somewhere that they hope will fulfil their dreams for a happy and healthy retirement.


How long are people insured for?

2013 2015
5 days 24% 40%
17 days 20% 26%
21 days 56% N/A


Here is the data for 2015:

Covered for 5 days     40%

Covered for 17 days   26%

Covered for 31 days   17%

Covered for 45 days    7%

Covered for 90 days    7%

Covered for 60 days    4%


Unlike some other travel insurers, our comprehensive cover will extend beyond your arrival in your destination country, for a selected period of time, before you make more permanent healthcare and insurance arrangements.  Our comparison was made more complicated by the fact that we have now expanded the options for how long you can be covered for under our Emigration Gold and Silver policies, so extra durations are now on offer. Looking at the numbers though, it is clear that more people are now opting for the shortest policy duration (5 days) as opposed to 2 years ago.  This could be due to changes in visa requirements, as it is sometimes the case that you have to demonstrate that you will have cover in place for a specific timeframe, before a visa is approved. If the rules have changed on this, then people may only want cover for their initial flight away from the UK, and the very first few days settling in. Also, those that opted for the longest duration previously (21 days) have now got extra options, so their choices have been split. Interestingly, though, more people choose cover for the maximum 90 days now, than 60 days. People that choose higher cover durations are sometimes travelling for a while before they reach their destination country, or are emigrating to America, where many appreciate the safety-net of emergency medical cover, as all medical care is private in the US, and costs can potentially escalate.

If you’re emigrating, we offer our specialist one-way Emigration Gold and Emigration Silver policies to cover travellers as you make the momentous journey to your new home country. The comprehensive cover included, offers a reassuring financial safety-net,   whilst you settle in, and make more permanent insurance and healthcare arrangements.   Standard single-trip policies aren’t suitable, as you should be returning back to the UK for these to be valid, and we are unusual in terms of travel insurance, in that, cover doesn’t stop when you arrive in your destination country, but continues for a selected period of up to 90 days. The policies are incredibly popular with people emigrating to start a new life in a new country, for people returning to their home country, or for people who plan to live away from the UK for an extended period of time, and only require travel insurance for an initial period.  You can read more about who the policies are aimed at, and their benefits here and get a quote for your one-way travel here.

UPDATE – We can now offer cover for up to 186 days on a One-Way journey (under the Emigration Gold policy) but there is a limit of 31 days of cover,  once you reach your final destination under both the Emigration Gold and Silver policies.

We also specialise in offering cover for gap-year and long-term travel , for older travellers , and for people going on a working holiday

Find out more about Go Walkabout Travel Insurance, nand find our contact details, here.

We are proud to attract many repeat customers because of our great-value products and fantastic UK-based customer service, and this is reflected in our positive reviews on the independent review-site Feefo.

Details of our One-way cover and policies were correct at time of publication, but check our main website for up-to-date details.

Related posts