France and Spain top EU destinations for expats as Brexit triggers 30% hike

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The number of UK citizens migrating to the EU has increased by 30% since Brexit, with Spain and France being the main destinations.

More than half of Britons fleeing to greener pastures in Europe, according to a new study, made the decision to move within 3 months of the vote.

Two years after the referendum of June 2015, more than 20,000 people left for a new life in Spain, more than 10,000 in France. 11,300 were attracted to Germany, 5,660 to Ireland and 5,510 to the Netherlands.

The joint research, conducted by the University of Oxford in Berlin and the Center for Social Sciences in Berlin, analyzed data from the OECD and the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

It shows that migration from Britain to EU states jumped to around 73,642 per year between 2016 and 2018. This is right after the Brexit referendum. Whereas previously around 56,832 Britons left their homes permanently on average each year.

The study also shows a 500% increase in the number of those who obtained citizenship of an EU state after the move. “These increases in numbers are of a magnitude one would expect when a country is hit by a major economic or political crisis,” study co-author Daniel Auer said in a statement.

“Brexit was by far the most dominant driver of migration decisions since 2016,” said co-author Daniel Tetlow. The leap into dual citizenship and the desire to integrate showed how determined expats were to escape the negative impact of Brexit, he added.

Among Britons’ biggest fears over Brexit was the loss of the freedom to move around the EU as they please for life or work. 74% said they would be prepared to exchange British citizenship if necessary to maintain this freedom.

Brexit study warns UK of brain drain

The study focuses on post-Brexit moves from the UK to Germany, where citizenship applications have increased significantly. “Germany has experienced an increase of 2,000%, with 31,600 Britons naturalized since the referendum”, reports The Guardian.

But “the collective uncertainty, induced by Brexit”, as the researchers say, has also led to “an equally strong increase in migratory flows” to many “destination countries”.

All of this, the authors warn, means that “the UK faces a potential brain drain from highly skilled UK citizens who have decided to invest their future in continental Europe.”

Over 21,000 disillusioned Britons transferred to Spain after Brexit

Just as Spanish beaches are loudly calling British tourists now – or at least they did before the UK took Spain off its no-quarantine holiday list two weeks ago – they attract those who want a more permanent change of scenery.

The number of Britons opting for a new life in Spain soared 500% in the two years following the 2016 referendum. More than any other country in the EU, Spain was the Promised Land following Brexit . After the vote, the number of migrants has multiplied by five in two years: to 21,250, against 2,300 on average per year in previous years.

“The Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca have seen the vast majority of British nationals return to the country,” reports the country’s largest English-language newspaper. “Many complain about the weather, cost of living, rental prices and lifestyle as the main reasons for their return to Spain.”

According to The Guardian, around 380,000 British nationals live in Spain. Many are not included in official Spanish immigration data, as registration was not required previously.

France Always A great attraction

The second most popular country for British Brexit fugitives is France. Most EU citizens do not need to register there. (British nationals will be considered as such until December 31).

Among those who have signed up, figures show that ten times as many British expats are moving to France due to Brexit. From 500 per year between 2008 and 2015, to 5,000 in the two post-referendum years.

Britons ready to take professional and personal risks to escape Brexit

The study shows that UK citizens living in German were willing to take more risks in reaction to Brexit. Most illustrate “increased levels of risk-taking and impulsivity”.

57% of respondents said they took a “big risk” with the move. Something they were much less inclined to do before the referendum.

Among those risks, a majority have agreed to pay cuts or a pay freeze as part of their decision to leave Britain. A stark contrast to the pay rise most received before the vote.

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