More than 5 million British people live outside the UK permanently. A whopping 557,000 people left the United Kingdom in 2022, according to Statista data, while 92,000 of them were British citizens. This is a significant increase in numbers during the last 3 years. They went away long-term, if not for good.
Thousands of those people were high-net-worth individuals, including millionaires and billionaires. Wealth exodus from the UK is estimated to reach a number of 3,200 in 2023, as indicated in the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report. The UK is now in the top 3 among countries that experience a high-net-worth individuals outflow.
While millionaires are leaving the UK, the country is losing wealth as fewer high taxes are paid. Luxury hotels, shops, cars, real estate, and other lavish life essentials are also in lower demand. All those factors are likely to affect the global financial capital, London, and the rest of Britain.
So why are millionaires leaving the UK? Let’s look at presumably the most common reasons for their mass migration.
The crime rates have risen across the UK during the last ten years, especially in England and Wales. Only in 2020-2021, it has temporarily decreased to 77.5, mainly because of the pandemic lockdowns.
According to Statista research, in 2013-2014, the crime rates in England and Wales were 62 per 1000 people. In 2022-2023, the number went up to 93.6 crimes per 1,000 people. During the same period, there were around 6.74 million crimes recorded by the police in those parts of the UK.
The most significant crime rise has been seen in the northern and northeastern areas of England. For example, the crime rate in Cleveland reached 147.7 cases per 1,000 people in 2022-2023. In West Yorkshire, there were around 133.8 crimes registered, and in Greater Manchester – 129.7.
In the capital, London, the crime rate stood at 100.2 per 1,000. Only some rural areas of the country have relatively low crime rates compared to the whole UK.
At the same time, the justice system does not seem to work well, mildly speaking. In the first quarter of 2023, the percentage of crimes solved in England and Wales was only 5.7%. This is a substantial decline from the year 2015 when approximately 15% of crimes were solved.
The bottom line is that the UK is obviously getting less safe. No wonder wealthy individuals do not want to stay in a country where they or their family members are likely to experience any kind of crime wherever they go.
Anti-social behavior, violence, and sexual offenses stand among the top most common crimes in the UK, according to CrimeRate data.
There are thousands of cases where people have encountered some form of crime, even in the daytime in the center of big cities, including London. Sometimes, it's some kind of theft or robbery. However, most often, it’s violence and sexual offenses.
For example, the burglary crime rate is 4.2 per 1,000 people, shoplifting is 4.9, and vehicle crime is 6.
The harshest deeds are, unfortunately, much more widespread. In 2022, police in England and Wales recorded over 2 million crime reports related to violence and sexual offenses. The overall crime rate in this category reached 36 per 1,000 people, and it has been worsening during the last 3 years.
The top 5 most dangerous cities for violence and sexual offenses are Bradford, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton, with the crime rates ranging from 75.42 to 61.98 per 1,000 people.
Anti-social behavior in Britain is also a big one. It comes second after the previous category with an overall rate of 17 per 1,000 people. In 2022, police in England and Wales received over 1 million reports about cases involving anti-social behavior.
You are most likely to meet weird or aggressive people, rowdy or nuisance neighbors, drug addicts, and drug paraphernalia in such places as Westminster, Belfast, London’s Tower Hamlets and Camden, and Middlesbrough. Those locations' anti-social behavior crime rate ranges from 56.44 to 37.10 per 1,000 residents.
The British climate is known to be rather gloomy despite a few towns in the south of the country. Overall, the local climate is mild, with no harsh winters, but the weather is damp and can change rapidly. You can experience rainfall, strong wind, sunshine, and fog all during one single day.
Speaking of sunshine. The average number of sunny hours in the UK is only 1403 per year. It is very few compared to other European countries like France, where you can enjoy sunshine for around 2000-2200 hours per year, or Italy, with its average of 2300-2500 sunny hours. In Spain, where lots of people from the UK move, you will get around 2500-2800 sunny hours a year.
Why sunshine is such a big deal, you may ask. Many people might not fully realize that the amount of sunshine they get affects their brain activity, behavior, mood, and mental state in general.
Numerous studies have shown that excessive UV exposure might cause some adverse effects, but a moderate daily dose of sunlight will only help our brain work better and make us feel happier. The sunlight also increases serotonin levels, which are believed to be a mood and emotions regulator, and the lack of it is linked to depressive states.
In many parts of the world, where there is a lack of sunlight during the cold time of the year, people often experience seasonal depression. And the fewer sunny days they have, the more severe this condition gets. Unfortunately, the UK is one of those places.
The UK is a country with the highest taxes in the world. The tax rates reach 45% if you are a wealthy individual with an annual income over £125,140. This means you give away to the government almost half of the money you earn.
In most cases, you will have to pay taxes on income sourced from the UK even if you are not a UK resident. This includes rental income, pension, and savings interest.
In recent years, the UK government also introduced taxation on cryptocurrency. The taxes on crypto can go up to 45%. There is no such thing as a crypto tax in the UK yet. However, your digital assets are subject to either an income or capital gains tax based on what you do with them. The final amount you will lose depends on your transactions, the band you fall into, and the applicable tax.
There are also corporate, inheritance and gift, stamp duty, financial transactions, and consumption taxes in the UK. The standard VAT rate in the UK is 20%, which is higher than the average OECD countries’ tax rate. Property taxes in the UK are almost 7% higher than in other OECD countries. The standard inheritance tax rate is 40% for real estate, which costs above £325,000 except for very few cases.
More and more people in the UK start noticing that new rules and regulations imposed negatively affect their lives. Expressing your opinion without being accused of intolerance or discrimination is getting harder.
Local politicians violate their own rules, as we could see it happening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some British believe that the government is getting dangerously close to becoming an “elected dictatorship”.
The great dissatisfaction of the population with Brexit and the failures to implement the process only undermined social trust in the UK government. Even the former Brexit Party leader admits that the ruling Conservatives failed to benefit from leaving the bloc.
While higher prices and cost of living might not be seen as what millionaires must be concerned about, it still adds up to the list of all the other things Brits are dissatisfied with.
Being a wealthy individual also means you tend to spend your money wisely and get as many benefits and as much profit as possible without overpaying. The higher prices and cost of living also lead to the fact that fewer people will be able to buy your products or use your services if you own certain types of businesses.
Higher inflation rates also make you lose money if you hold government bonds. The money that you are paid back will have less purchasing power. Inflation also brings the threat of higher interest rates, which can further cause higher borrowing costs and put pressure on asset values.
According to a recent survey, millionaires see inflation as one of the top 2 biggest threats to their wealth, along with government dysfunction.
In the UK, rising mortgage rates pushed many landlords to sell their properties. 77.5% of landlords and estate agents in London alone named this reason to be the most common for homeowners' decision to leave the real estate market or to reduce their property portfolio.
All the factors mentioned above, such as high crime rates, dismal weather, government rules and failures, and inflation, unsurprisingly result in increased stress levels.
All the hustle and bustle in the streets of big cities in grim weather, potential seasonal depression, growing prices, and the risk of running into criminals is unlikely to make anyone happy.
People in the UK, whether they are ordinary citizens or millionaires, endure the same reality of living there. Stress can take you over, especially when you have a lot of responsibility, but the circumstances only make you more anxious.
Wealthy individuals who want to thrive and keep their mental and physical well-being a priority are leaving the UK and moving abroad.
Among the most common countries UK millionaires migrate to are the UAE, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Singapore, Switzerland, Greece, Monaco, and Malta.
Those places are particularly inviting if you are fleeing from the nasty UK weather and the lack of sunshine. Some of them, such as the UAE, Singapore, and Switzerland, are considered to be the countries with a high concentration of wealth. For example, there are now over 120,000 British citizens living in the UAE.
UK millionaires also often choose the south of Europe, like Spain or Greece, to buy luxury villas and mansions on the seacoast. The British expat population in Spain accounted for 315,824 in 2022. UK nationals residing there rose significantly from 2002 when their number was around 105,000.
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