British pensioners the most likely to start a new life in France

Senior woman and man having walk in summer

Around 150,000 British people now live in France, with the south-west of the country, including the Dordogne, the most popular place to relocate.

A special report by the Office for National Statistics examining country by country migration patterns found that older Britons favoured the south and mid-west region, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, but younger working Britons were more commonly found in Paris and the Île-de-France region around the capital.

The ONS also found that 43% of the 148,800 British citizens living in France in 2016 were aged between 15 and 54 and 46% were over 55.

The pattern was not replicated in Britain, where more than half of the 154,800 French citizens estimated to be living in the UK between 2013 and 2015 were aged between 25 and 44 years.

The majority of the French in the UK – 65% – work in “higher level professions” said the ONS, with 29% working in banking and financial services and a quarter in public administration, education and health.

The report is the third in a series conducted by the ONS. Previous reports concentrated on Spain and the EU8 countries including Poland and the Baltic states, which joined the EU in 2004.

While study and work draws tens of thousands of French nationals to the UK, retirement appears to be a driver for a significant proportion of the Britons who make the opposite journey.

Department of Work and Pensions figures show that about 67,000 people in France are drawing a UK state pension. This would amount to more than 40% of the total number of Britons living in France. However it could include other nationalities who have worked in the UK, retired across the channel and are entitled to a British state pension.

Information on the occupations of Britons in France is not available, but the ONS found that 19% of British citizens were over 65, 13% were under 15 years old and of the remaining 106,200 of working age, 52% were employed, 5% unemployed and 43% economically inactive. The majority of this group are likely to be retirees but it could also include students and stay-at-home parents.

The most popular place for Britons is Nouvelle-Aquitaine, which takes in popular destinations such as Bordeaux, Limoges and Bergerac, followed by the region of Occitanie in the south, which covers the departments of Languedoc and Lot.

France was found to be the second-most popular destination for holidays for Britons after Spain.

The ONS said that, although the numbers of UK citizens living in France and French nationals resident in the UK are “roughly similar”, “of the two it seems France is the more popular ‘retirement’ destination”.

The number of French people the ONS calculated to be living in the UK is much lower than the 300,000 widely reported to be in the country.

With no requirement for any EU citizen to register in the UK, the ONS looked to a number of sources including the Census, Eurostat, the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Population Survey to arrive at its estimates.


This article was written by Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to