Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that some 385,000 people left the UK for the long term in the year to mid-2006. Some 196,000 of those were British citizens.
Roy Bevis prefers his life in Italy
One of those Britons who chose to make the move abroad was Roy Bevis, 64, who traded in his home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, three years ago for one on the banks of Lake Como in Italy.
And he has no regrets.
A typographer by trade, Mr Bevis said he became fed up with life in Britain for many reasons.
He faced problems over his self-employed status after 12 years, he was frustrated with the health service and the cost of transport, he had high blood pressure and he felt his income was being drained by high bills and taxes.
When I came to Lake Como, it was the best place I had ever seen in my whole life - it was breathtaking
"There is no doubt about it," he says. "I was forced to leave the country."
Now, Mr Bevis lives in a large house with a bowls pitch and three gardens overlooking Lake Como - with Hollywood star George Clooney as a neighbour.
"I toyed with the idea of France, looked around the other Italian lakes, but when I came to Lake Como, it was the best place I had ever seen in my whole life - it was breathtaking," he says.
"Then I looked at property prices here, and at that time they were a third of what they were in the UK. So I just thought, I might as well sell up and buy somewhere."
Now, he says his bills are minimal, healthcare is "second to none" and he can travel around by train relatively cheaply.
In addition, the weather is warm all year round and he is enjoying friendships with neighbours from all over the world, including America, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
"The social life here is great," he says. "I have never eaten so much outside, and everyone joins in together."
My only regret is that I should have done it 20 years ago
Mr Bevis still does a bit of typography, but is essentially enjoying retirement. As a result, his health has benefited and his blood pressure is down.
"I feel different - the air is pure and I am even running up the hill here," he says. "My only regret is that I should have done it 20 years ago."
Even Mr Bevis's 33-year-old son who still lives in the UK has come round to the idea.
"He didn't want me to go in the beginning, but now he says it is the best thing I could have done."
When he returns to Britain for a trip, Mr Bevis finds he misses Italy.
"I am going back in September for a concert - I don't really want to go," he says.
But, is there anything about Britain Mr Bevis does miss?
"Oh yes - baked beans," he admits.