Where in the world do people want to live — and why?

Liam Clifford
Aug 9, 2018 · 5 min read

We asked over 4,500 people around the world where the most desirable places to move abroad are — and why they’d want to go.

Once a pipe-dream for most, the idea of starting a new life abroad has become more realistic for people everywhere.

We are, after all, more travelled than ever — more than half (52%) of people say they have been abroad, and more than half of those (27% overall) leave their home country regularly.

So, in a world linked ever-closer by cheaper transport options and communications advances, we asked our bees worldwide what they thought of moving to new countries.

What we found: they’re totally open to it. Over 4 out of 5 (82%) say they would consider leaving their home country to live abroad for 6 months or more.

In Africa, that number is even higher: 92% of people in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria say they’d consider it. And even in the regions in our list that had the least drive for emigration — China and India — the number of people willing to try living abroad was over 3 in 4 (77%).

But where do they want to go? Let’s dive in.


Where in the world… ?

Anglophone countries are ahead for most of our bees — reflecting the relative ubiquity of the English language.

However, there are some notable exceptions, led by proximity. In the Philippines, the number two choice (after Canada) is actually Japan (41%), while 18% of our Filipino bees would also consider giving South Korea a go — much higher than the 2% worldwide who said they would move there.

Meanwhile, our Chinese bees also had a different take. Almost half (48%) said they’d consider living in Australia, while almost 4 out of 5 (79%) said that experiencing a different culture would be a main reason for wanting to live abroad.

Conversely — and stereotypically! — in the UK the weather is a major issue. In fact, the drizzly UK is the only country in our list where better weather is one of the top three reasons for emigrating (and almost one-third said they would move to Spain). Most Brits (58%), though, said a better quality of life would be their top priority.

In Africa, our bees have different ambitions. In Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, the top reason for wanting to emigrate (63%) was great work opportunities. Canada (39%), the US (37%) and the UK (35%) were respectively the most attractive destinations.


American boys and Canadian girls

When asked their first choice of country would be to move to, women chose Canada. Men? The US.

Our male bees also put more emphasis on work opportunities when considering whether to move abroad. 48% of men said that work was a main reason for wanting to live abroad — ahead of better quality of life, new life experiences and better weather, and behind only experiencing another culture.

For women, better quality of life (46%) and self-discovery (45%) were more important than work (42%).

Obviously, with opportunity comes risk. When we asked our female bees about their biggest issues when moving to somewhere new, over one-third (36%) of them said it was the distance from home that worried them, followed by the high cost of living (32%), a potential language barrier (26%) and not being able to make friends (19%). Less than 1 in 5 women said they wouldn’t feel worried about anything.

Conversely, not being worried at all was actually the most popular answer for our male bees — with almost 3 out of 10 (29%) feeling that there’s nothing that would pose too great a problem to them. Past that, there were the same three issues as their female counterparts — living costs (27%), language barrier (19%) and loneliness (15%).


What does that all mean for brands?

With over 80% of our bees keen on living abroad for a stretch, it looks likely that the world of travel is only going to get more crowded.

People are better equipped than ever before to look for new opportunities across the globe that match their needs — whether that’s better quality of life and sunshine for Brits, getting to know new cultures for Chinese, or more chances to build a career for our African bees.

As demographics chop and change over the coming years, it will be ever more important for brands of all types to stay on top of who they’re selling to — more diverse consumers means more diverse use cases and needs, so businesses need to make sure that know who they’re selling to. As we’ve discovered, different people want different things.

Keeping track of that is no mean feat, but with challenge comes reward: matching the right product with the right customer. That’s how successful brands will beat change — by embracing it.

Other study findings:


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A quick word on our methodology: The figures in the article are taken from global Streetbees community members, carried out in June 2018. All of the data was collected by mobile and web surveys, and is accurate to within 3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Street Voice

Live stories from the Streetbees community

Liam Clifford

Written by

Data Journalist at Streetbees - an independent research platform, founded on the principle of humanising how we collect data.

Street Voice

Live stories from the Streetbees community

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