Global Relocation Trends to Keep An Eye Out For In 2021 and Beyond

Posted on September 28, 2021

Describing the past 18 months as tumultuous is an understatement. We dealt with unstable freight rates, a cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal, and one of the worst pandemics in living memory, just to name a few. But as that old saying goes, storms draw something out of us that calm seas don’t. While the future gives us the benefit of hindsight, our responsibility today is to gather more information.

Life-changing decisions such as relocation are important and requires much planning and research. In the aftermath of Covid-19, global mobility is becoming increasingly important as an indicator of economic health.

Reasons for recent and prospective moves

Research put together by Seven Seas Worldwide revealed that while people often have their own reasons for deciding whether or not to move, they mainly do so as a means of creating their own opportunities rather than the widely-accepted belief that this is in response to circumstances.

Most popular countries for relocation

The survey also looked into which countries people were intending to move to and the reasons behind these intentions. It also asked which countries are more favourable destinations than others. Worldwide, the top five countries for relocating internationally were the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan and Spain.

How COVID-19 has affected relocation plans

The report surveyed respondents on whether the pandemic had made them more or less likely to consider relocating internationally. Some key takeaways revealed that:

  • 8% of respondents were not more or less likely to consider relocation during COVID-19.
  • 46% who cancelled their planned move cited COVID-19-related issues as a reason.
  • Certain countries (Hong Kong and South Africa) showed an increased desire to move as a result of the pandemic, while other areas such as Australia hampered such plans because of movement restrictions.

Future global mobility trends

It is estimated that the pent-up demand for global mobility cause a rise in relocations for 2022 – with an uptick predicted to begin in the month of February or later. Having said that, this is dependent on key factors which are yet to be determined:

Shipping Industry

  • Global shipping demand
  • Spot container freight rates

Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Herd immunity in the destination country
  • A consensus on vaccine passports

Regional overviews of the US, UK, Hong Kong, and more

Australia – The Aussie way of life is a huge draw for international movers. Those that choose Australia to relocate to cite that the top reason for moving would be for a better lifestyle (47%).

Hong Kong – The most popular destination country for relocation among Hong Kong respondents is the United Kingdom (21.7%), followed by Japan (15.6%), and Australia (14.2%).

South Africa – Nearly twenty percent of South African respondents say that their primary reason for moving was to experience a new culture, and nearly fifty percent of them said they were in search for a better lifestyle.

United Kingdom – Great Britain was the most popular global destination for relocation. When it comes to leaving the UK, the research showed UK respondents are either moving towards countries with a lot of sunshine or other English-speaking locations.

United States – Californians and New Yorkers in particular are more likely to stay put in their respective states.


There are some eye-opening takeaways from the report. These are:

  • Mobility and intention of movement varies across countries
  • Key considerations for moving remain the same worldwide, but Covid-19 has undeniably amplified some considerations
  • The global pandemic has hampered desire for relocation among some respondents, but others are undeterred
  • Relocation plans are driven by a varied range of motivations
  • Great Britain was the top relocation destination globally

Career opportunities still remain a key driver for international relocation. However, the report shows shifting priorities brought forward by the pandemic. For instance, remote work is increasingly becoming more common. This means that the relocations and mobility landscape is likely to change even further.

The research shows that as we expect to see a new group of “digital nomads” grabbing the opportunity to work more independently as the intertwined relationship between work and travel continues to tighten. While in the past, such arrangements were largely associated with freelancers or solo entrepreneurs, COVID-19 has revealed that physical offices are not a requirement for productivity among the workforce in general. This gives organisations a chance to save costs on office space, while allowing employees the opportunity to pursue the lifestyle they desire– whether it means a home office on a quiet ranch in the Outback, a rural village deep in Japan, or working from a sun-drenched playa in Spain.

For the full version of the 2021 Global Movement report, click here.

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