British Expats prefer Southwest France

TheLocal.fr has done an analysis of how and why so many British expats have come to call southwest France home.

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region – which includes the old regions of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, and Limousin – is home to more British citizens than any other part of France. Approximately 26 percent of the 150,000 Brits who live in France – about 39,000 people in total – live here.

According to the French statistics agency INSEE, this means British expats make up 0.7 percent of the region’s population. Only the Portuguese community is larger.

Occitanie, which borders Nouvelle Aquitaine, is home to 25,000 Brits, and an additional 19,500 live in Ïle-de-France, the region that includes Paris.

Most of the people who live in Nouvelle Aquitaine do not live in the coastal towns. These expats prefer the rural countryside. Many of them live in small towns or villages in the area where the departments of Charente, Haut-Vienne, and Dordogne intersect. The department of Lot-et-Garonne is also popular.

The rural areas of Nouvelle Aquitaine are more peaceful and less expensive than the towns and cities on the Atlantic coast. In some smaller towns and villages, British citizens now make up around 15 percent of the population.

The British population in the area is 50 times larger than it was in 1968. Many residents came to the area between 1999 and 2008. The Great Recession slowed migration to the area.

According to INSEE, the average age of these British citizens is 52, and more than half of them are 58 or older. Around 75 percent of their households are “uniquely British.” This means that most of these individuals came to France with a spouse or other family members. About 90 of them own some property.

Approximately 70 percent of British residents in the region are retired. Around 37 percent of the employed British citizens are small business owners.

In this regard, the Brits in Nouvelle Aquitaine are outliers. Most British residents in France are working, not retired.

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