Why Spain Tops the Dream List for Remote Working Among Brits

Dive into the latest insights from Nebeus' 2023 study on remote work trends. Discover why 46% of UK professionals see Spain as their dream destination for enhanced quality of life, and learn about the surprising 89% who are yet to explore the transformative Digital Nomad Visa.

Data from the Office For National Statistics shows that 44% of Brits worked remotely in 2023, with increasing popularity amongst professionals all over the world. Not only allowing for cut-backs on expenses such as travel to-and-from the office, but also presenting new opportunities never imagined possible for most before the pandemic: working from a country you’ve never before called home and simply taking your job with you.

Nebeus, global payments app, has surveyed 400 UK professionals of working age to provide comprehensive insight into their key attitudes and opinions regarding the possibility of working remotely abroad, with a particular focus on financial insights.

Split by different demographics including regional location, read on for different UK attitudes towards the possibilities of remote working abroad.

Spain: The Preferred Destination for Remote Work Among Brits, with 46% Seeking Relocation for a Better Quality of Life

The survey revealed that Spain leads the preferences as a destination for remote work among the British, with a notable 22% choosing the country as their first option.

The United States (19%) is the second choice for the British, and France the third (13%). Completing the ranking are Portugal (6%), Southeast Asia (5%), and Latin America (3%).

Spain's appeal to British professionals lies in its unique mix of tradition and modernity, along with a welcoming atmosphere and a relaxed lifestyle.

Looking at Spain in particular, a huge 46% would decide to relocate to the country for work in search of “a better quality of life”, with the West Midlands (59%), London (49%) and Scotland (47%) the most likely to choose this as their main reason.

With an abundance of sunshine, a diverse culture and beautiful natural landscapes, it’s not hard to see why this is such a key decision factor.

Saving money and living a cheaper lifestyle was another popular incentive for UK residents, particularly those living in the North West (26%). With prices of everyday items like groceries, bills and travel costs generally lower in Spain, what’s not to like about saving yourself some cash - you can use your spare money to go visit tourist hotspots like the Sagrada Familia!

In terms of desirable Spanish regions, Barcelona is the UK’s first choice (14%), followed by Valencia (7%) and Madrid (5%).

Desire to move, yet unaware: 89% of respondents unaware of the streamlined Spanish digital nomad visa

With a high number of survey respondents signifying their openness to remote working in Spain, it came as a surprise to Nebeus that 89% were unaware of the Digital Nomad Visa option that allows professionals to work remotely in the country, without having to change jobs.

It highlights a lack of promotion of this benefit: it provides the flexibility to enjoy the benefits of the country, yet without losing out on existing employment opportunities in the UK.

However, despite being unaware of the visa, 56% expressed interest in considering this route in the future. Just 6% claim to already be aware and would consider using the visa.

Those from Yorkshire and Wales are more than three times less likely than the Scottish to consider moving abroad for work.

When asked which country respondents would be most likely to consider working remotely from, the majority chose Spain. However, 20% of respondents also said they would not consider working remotely abroad full stop.

We then split this further looking at responses by region throughout the UK.

Just 8% of Scottish respondents said they wouldn’t consider moving abroad. Considering Spain in particular, those from Scotland were the most likely to consider relocating if they had the option to work remotely without switching jobs, with almost two-thirds voting yes (62%) - maybe swapping the Highland mountains for sandy Spanish beaches is high on Scottish respondent’s bucket lists.

UK professionals' top concerns about relocating to Spain are the cost of healthcare and language difficulties

With the brilliant NHS at the fingertips of all UK residents, often regarded as one of the best systems in the world, it’s easy to see why healthcare in other countries can be a troublesome thought.

The South West is particularly concerned with healthcare costs, as 47% of respondents chose this option, followed by the East of England with 44% and Yorkshire with 39%.

However, for the North West (32%) and South East (27%), their primary concern is actually the cost of living - unsurprising after how the crisis has affected many people’s disposable income - closely associated with the thought of relocating abroad, from costly flights to new insurance requirements.

From a non-financial perspective, over half of respondents stated language difficulties as their primary concern (53%) - a particularly worrisome factor for those in Scotland (62%), the East of England (62%) and Yorkshire (58%). Well, there are some strong accents to contend with in these regions!

14% also stated that they would struggle leaving their friends and family behind, considering language barriers could also hinder the process of making new relationships abroad.

What about finances in general? 51% of respondents believe their spending power would be higher or similar to that in the UK.

Londoners are the most likely to believe their spending power would be higher in Spain, with 43% voting higher and 21% thinking it would be similar to that at home. This won’t come as a shock for those who live in or have visited the capital and paid a handsome price for a measly pint or meal deal - with the average beer costing €2.50 in Spain versus a whopping £6.30 in London!

In relation to financial services when moving abroad, the majority of regions consider “easy and economical international transfers” the most important, which makes sense given the likelihood of having family back in the UK, followed by “insurance or financial protections” which again aligns with the need to protect yourself whilst living abroad and finding your feet.

When choosing a financial platform to manage money abroad, the majority of UK regions stated “ease of use and access” as their main priority, however those in the North East (32%) and London (36%) voted “low commissions and fees”, and “currency exchange” is the most important for those in Yorkshire (24%).

Wealthier respondents less likely to consider moving abroad

Interestingly, the higher the respondent's income got, the more likely they generally seem to say NO to moving abroad.

Could this be in relation to tax rates in other countries? Or perhaps a higher income equates to more seniority in the workplace - which makes leaving the UK office seem unattractive or even a hindrance to that next promotion!  

Those on a mid-range salary appear to be the most likely to consider relocating abroad without switching jobs, with nearly 80% of those earning 25-30k saying they would.

Those with children are most likely to say they would not consider working remotely from another country, but if they did they would choose Spain (23%) or the US (20%).

Non-parents would be more open to relocating abroad for work than parents, who are concerned with the wellbeing of their children and families, schooling and leaving their friends behind.

The study provided interesting insights into UK attitudes towards working remotely abroad, revealing different opinions from the many different regions.

All in all, Scottish respondents appeared to be the most keen to move abroad for work and to Spain in particular - perhaps a change of weather forecast is needed? - whilst those from Yorkshire and Wales were less willing and seemed content at home. Southerners seemed to expect a brighter quality of life if they were to move to Spain for work, including a higher spending power.

Nebeus’ survey overall has shed light on some interesting outlooks from UK working professionals - after the pandemic, the working day looks very different for many employees, with working remotely abroad just one of the many options available that contributes towards an increasingly flexible career for many.

This study shows a growing interest in this new way of working and the need for accurate information for professionals to make informed decisions when considering this lifestyle and career change. Results highlight the need for more detailed information about the digital work visa in particular, but also the linguistic, financial and cultural challenges faced before making a significant decision such as moving abroad to work.

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