Why Exactly Do People Choose to Emigrate?


The most recent figures show that there are around 258 million international migrants worldwide. This number has been increasing rapidly in recent years, and is up from 220 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000. Although a significant number of people are forced to leave their countries for various reasons, many willingly make the decision to leave their home nation in search of pastures new. Here we discuss the main reasons for people choosing to emigrate.  

A better quality of life

One of the biggest reasons people decide to emigrate is to enjoy a better quality of life. There are a number of different lifestyle factors that might encourage somebody to move abroad, such as a lower cost of living, superior transport links, and even sunnier weather. Better weather and a more enjoyable living environment are often huge motivations for people emigrating. These are two of the main reasons so many Brits decide to move to countries like Australia and Spain each year.

The Caribbean has also proven popular for this very reason, with its idyllic white beaches, scenic mountain peaks, and year-round sunshine. Many who emigrate there have not even needed a job secured in order to do so, with nations like St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Dominica running citizenship by investment schemes. These allow individuals and families to attain citizenship from these countries, as long as they invest a set amount in the local economy.

Work opportunities

Another key reason people decide to emigrate is for greater work opportunities. They may have already been offered a job abroad, or might want to take advantage of favourable working conditions of a different country. There could be higher quality jobs, more of a chance for career advancement, or greater pay.

This is illustrated by the UK, one of the most popular countries in the world for immigrants. According to a study by the Office for National Statistics, the most common reason non-British citizens moved to the UK in 2016 was for work, with about 226,000 (50%) of those migrating for this reason. This has been attributed to the draw of the UK’s labour market, with research suggesting that “economic and labour market factors are major ‘pull’ factors of migration” and provide an effective strategy to increase income.

This applies to low and high skilled workers alike, with income inequality in the UK seemingly playing a major role in attracting high-skilled immigrants, who can often command high incomes.

Business opportunities

Many people also decide to emigrate for business opportunities abroad, and to take advantage of favourable business conditions in a particular country. These may include low interest rates, significant economic growth, access to a more receptive market, or a greater willingness from the country itself to encourage business growth.

For example, many startups decide to set up abroad and move to cities like Berlin and  London, where there are significant opportunities for businesses to thrive. Berlin offers schemes like the High-Tech-Strategy that aims to provide resources for tech companies, and the ERP/EIF Growth Facility that provides venture capital support for startups. Factors like a cosmopolitan atmosphere and an abundance of co-working spaces have also encouraged entrepreneurs to set up their businesses there. With numerous other cities offering similar opportunities for growth, the decision to migrate could be the most sensible decision for a burgeoning business.

Education opportunities

In 2016, it was estimated that were around 5 million students worldwide studying outside of their home country. Studying abroad is enticing for students for a number of reasons. Similarly to work and business opportunities, the quality of education may be higher abroad than it is in many people’s home countries. This will potentially increase their employment opportunities, as not only may they receive a better standard of education, but studying abroad looks great on a CV. Migrants will also learn a new language and enjoy the potential lifestyle benefits of a different country.

People choose to emigrate for a myriad of reasons; from taking up work, business and education opportunities, and the chance to enjoy a better lifestyle. For many people, and for many reasons, moving to a different country is just the right choice.


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