Nearly two million Britons have left the UK over the past decade, according to recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
According to the ONS, in 2006, more than 200,000 people emigrated from the UK, which means the total number who have left British shores between 1997 and 2006 stands at 1.97million.
Although this is the biggest emigration wave in real figures, a larger percentage of people left during the 1930s and the middle of the 19th century. Many of those who have left the UK have retired abroad; the most popular destination for Brits was Australia; estimates suggest that there are currently 5.5million British citizens living abroad.
The emigration has been more than balanced though immigration; 3.9million foreigners have arrived in the UK during the same period, including more than half a million in 2006 alone.
There are many reasons why Brits leave the UK – the weather is the stereotypical one, but the cost of living is also a significant factor. According to a survey carried out by HSBC, Britain is the third most expensive country to live in, and a year's salary would last for more than two years in Peru, Egypt, Argentina or Costa Rica.
The average house price in the UK is £220,000, while property
abroad can be bought much more cheaply; the average house price in Australia is less than £200,000 on average and you can buy a Spanish property
for much less than its UK equivalent.
Many Brits who originally purchased investment properties abroad
are selling up their UK homes to live abroad permanently, and a recent fairinvestment.co.uk survey revealed that 44 per cent of first time buyers would consider buying their first property abroad, while eight per cent said they had already done so.
"First time buyers are being driven to sunnier climes for a route onto the property ladder as a result of the credit crisis which has been shaking the foundations of the UK property market." said James Caldwell, director at Fairinvestment.co.uk.
"This growth in the number of people willing to move abroad is probably not a coincidence, as debt levels are rising and there has been a shortage of property in this country which has pushed prices up in recent years – overseas people can find cheaper property prices and a lower cost of living," he said.