Where the World Wants to Work: the most popular countries for moving abroad

The events of 2020 have led to an uplift in a range of different searches people have been asking on Google, from how to bake soda bread to a variety of indoor workouts. However, there’s also been an increase in searches of an altogether more life-altering scale, as more and more people have considered their options for moving abroad. For example, there has been a 29% increase in global Google searches for ‘how to move abroad’ from January 2020 to October 2020 alone.
But where are the most popular destinations for people looking to live overseas? Are people looking for warm weather and sandy beaches, or is a solid health system, good economy and welcoming attitude more important?
We took a look at global search data to discover the most popular destinations for inhabitants of 101 countries around the world.* By analysing the average monthly search volume for phrases commonly associated with researching a move overseas and ranking them with the most searched-for location within each country, we were able to see which destinations came out top.
And this is what we learned...
Which are the most popular countries for moving abroad?
The most popular destination for people looking to move overseas was Canada, which topped the wish-lists of 29 other countries.

The Top 10 Countries for Moving Abroad

RankCountryNumber of countries that want to move here the most
10United Kingdom2
Featuring prominently in the Global Peace Index as one of the safest places to live, and boasting low unemployment rates alongside a high amount of immigration options, it’s arguably no surprise that Canada is head and shoulders above the rest of the world. Add to that its friendly locals and beautiful scenery and it’s little surprise that the country is so appealing.
However, Canadians themselves were found to be angling for a move to second placed Japan, yet another country known for its stunning scenery, safety and vast array of job opportunities. Other popular options included Spain and Germany within Europe and Qatar in Asia.
We’ve created a colour-coded map below to provide an at-a-glance view of which countries are most popular in different parts of the world.
map of the world highlighting countries popular for relocation

The most popular destinations for Europeans moving overseas

Looking a little closer to focus solely on European searchers, we can see that the most popular relocation destination is Germany, which topped the list for eight countries within the continent. Benefits of the country include its excellent universal healthcare system, a thriving economy, fantastic public transport, low crime rates, clean environment and excellent job opportunities.
Canada was still the second most popular choice, with five European countries, including France and Belgium, listing it as their top pick.
map of Europe with popular relocation countries highlighted

North and Central America’s top choices for living abroad

For North and Central American countries, Canada once again topped the bill, with eight countries favouring a move there. Canada, meanwhile, along with its close neighbour the USA, picked Japan as its preferred overseas home, probably thanks to its reputation for high safety levels, job opportunities and heavily-praised quality of life.
map of north america with popular relocation countries highlighted

Where else would South Americans like to live?

Only two countries came up when it comes to the other destinations South Americans would like to relocate to, and Spain was the top choice by a landslide. Portugal was the only other pick, showing that it could well be similarities in language and culture that draws residents of these countries overseas, along with the great healthcare, general safety levels and the fantastic quality of life that Spain offers.
map of south america with popular relocation countries highlighted

Top overseas picks for Oceanic countries

It was an even split between Oceanic countries, showing no clear choice for favoured overseas living destinations. New Zealand and Fiji both chose each other as their top picks – New Zealanders probably appreciating the more cost-effective and relaxed way of life in Fiji and Fijians enjoying the abundance of working and living opportunities available in New Zealand. Australia, meanwhile, is another country that is mostly researching a possible move to Japan.
For people looking to send money to Fiji from Australia, check out our latest rates and pay no fees on your first transfer with Remitly.
Relocation map for Oceania

Preferred overseas living locations for people from Asia

There seems to be more of a location-based split within the Asian countries. South-east Asian and Indonesian immigrants are mostly interested in heading to Japan, making it the preferred option for the continent as a whole, while many of the Middle Eastern and Arabic countries within the continent, such as Jordan and Lebanon, lean towards Qatar as their top choice. With high salaries and no taxes, as well as modern living, particularly in Doha, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular option.
Relocation map for Asia

Where do people from African countries hope to move?

And it's another win for Canada, with 14 of the African countries, including Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, showing the most interest in a move there. It’s clear that the country’s diverse population and strong economic opportunities are a tempting offer all around the globe, especially at a time when many are under financial stress. Portugal comes in second, although it only topped the bill for two of the countries on our list.
relocation map of Africa
Have any of these country choices tempted you to make your own move overseas? If you are ready to take the next step on a move abroad and are starting to plan for the future, you’ll still be able to transfer money securely and conveniently with Remitly.
*Not all countries provided enough search data to be featured – we've included the countries with enough data to analyse.

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