Sydney Opera HouseMark Cuthbert/UK Press/Press Association Images

There are over four and a half million British expats living and working around the world. Somehow they have managed to tear themselves away from unreliable weather, collapsing public services, and The Voice.

So where are they going, and why?

Destinations

Research from NatWest International Personal Banking has found 4.6 million British expats have made for sunnier shores. By far the most popular destination is Australia, which is home to 1.4 million of them. This is followed by Spain at 940,000, the US at 794,000 and Canada at 630,000.

The global NatWest IPB Quality of Life report, in conjunction with the Centre of Future Studies, reveals that overall, 41 countries each have a British expat population of at least 10,000 and 112 countries have at least 1,000.


So what is the attraction?

Typically expats refer to quality of life, the weather and a healthier culture. Clearly Australia's sunshine and outdoor lifestyle are a huge draw for hundreds of thousands of people. However, the survey found a major attraction is what working overseas can do for your career.

Career

In some sectors, there is a big demand for expats, who can progress more quickly overseas, and will be more marketable should they wish to return to the UK. The most common industries to breed expats are technology and management consultancy jointly followed by manufacturing and financial services.

There are also 74,264 teachers working in British international schools - equal to almost 14% of teachers in UK state schools. It is predicted that by 2013 the number will have risen by a further 54% to nearly 115,000.

In the last year alone, over 500 new English-speaking international schools were opened across the world. By 2013, Asia will have more than 1,600 British international schools. Here, the ability to speak perfect English becomes a marketable skill.

Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking, said: "The common glue is the English language which has proved to be a vital tool and has played a leading role in the globalised world. It has provided a common platform for international drive; driven global collaboration and thinking; and opened the doors to opportunities around the world. The English language is an industrial tool now as basic as the screwdriver."

The drive for career development is often behind the increasing popularly of developing destinations like China - which now has 38,000 expats and UAE, which has 64,000. In Beijing, British expats (19,000) are mainly employed in the information technology, telecommunication, education and finance sectors in researching, management and marketing positions. It is estimated that 400,000 expats live in Shanghai, of which approximately 2% are British (8,000).


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