The market for British people buying abroad is expected to grow at 13% a year between now and 2012. And it was worth £44.4bn in 2006. That's a lot of bricks and mortar. The appeal is understandable. UK house prices remain prohibitively high, but people still seek investment alternatives to pensions or the stock market. Surprisingly, most of them are owned by UK citizens resident abroad. Many simply feel life here is not for them. Market reserachers Mintel found that nearly 25% of our 1.2 million second homes abroad were bought by people tired of Britain. France, Spain and the US are the most popular destinations, but younger buyers are getting more exotic. Brazil, Egypt and Bulgaria are popular; and, bizarrely, Cape Verde, off the coast of Dakar, is tipped as a new hot zone. Cheap flights have played a key role in the second-home craze, but upcoming pressures on air travel may change that. Perhaps then we'd get closer to filling the 840,000 empty houses in Britain. Most of them, though, lack a sea view.