Seeking quality of life? UK expats happy to head to the UAE

A new report shows that only Australia and Canada are more popular than the UAE as destinations bringing a better quality of life for UK expats.

The UAE came third in the best quality of life survey among UK expats. Sarah Dea / The National
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The UAE is now the third-most popular country among UK expatriates, according to a new survey measuring what expats are fond of calling their quality of life.

Unsurprisingly, the motives for moving were economic. Seventy-two per cent said they moved to the UAE to boost their careers, while tax-free living bolstered the disposable incomes of 96 per cent, the NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Report showed.

Only Australia and Canada are more popular.

The study also found that 80 per cent of British expatriates enjoy a better quality of life abroad.

“The most notable shifts in our quality of life results this year is the rise of the UAE as an expat destination,” said Dave Isley, the head of NatWest International Personal Banking. “The once-loved traditional expat communities of France, Spain and Portugal are diminishing, with quality of life drastically declining for expats living there, making way for newcomers such as the UAE and Singapore. It seems expats are willing to adjust their lifestyle in exchange for a stronger economy and better job opportunities.”

The study rated expatriates’ lives abroad on several criteria, including entertainment, food, law enforcement, public transport, sanitation, housing, public services, leisure and culture, schools and education, health care, retirement facilities and weather.

The UAE has rapidly become more popular in part because of post-crisis economic stagnation and anaemic job growth in the developed world. The country climbed seven places between 2008 and last year, jumping from 10th to 3rd as migrants sought a tax-free buffer against the unfavourable job market in the West.

British expatriates are not settling down, with 92 per cent of UK expats seeing themselves as on a “temporary assignment” – only 8 per cent expect to eke out a more long-term future in the UAE.

WhatsApp is helping to keep UK expatriates in touch with their friends and family at home, with almost all Britons living abroad – 95 per cent – owning three or more tech devices.

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