Ex-licensees who left to work abroad are returning to take on UK pubs, according to three tenanted operators.
The UK's improving economy and more flexible leases have been cited as reasons.
Oliver and Samantha Knott have returned from Malaysia to take on a three-year Hall & Woodhouse tenancy at the Scarlett Arms, Walliswood, Surrey.
Knott said signs of a recovery from the UK recession meant the time to return was right. "We always wanted to run a food-based business and considered doing it in Malaysia, but the competition is huge. Also we wanted to get the kids into school in England."
Knott said all the pubcos and brewers he had contacted were offering incentives.
Matt Kearsey, head of Hall & Woodhouse's tenanted division, Badger Pubs, said a couple returning from Spain had signed up on a pub in Billingshurst, West Sussex.
"We've had about six applications from abroad in the past six months, and appointed two."
Former host John Jeram-Silvey returned from Spain after his printing company in the Canary Islands closed.
"Tourism fell 30% and, since there's no support structure in Spain for British citizens, I came back."
Jeram-Silvey is considering taking a lease in Cornwall. "The pubs you see listed on pubco websites now all have a degree of flexibility on the terms."
Linda Lord, Enterprise Inns retailer recruitment manager, said around 30 former licensees in the same situation have contacted the pubco over the past year, partly because "we're offering better deals than ever before".
Charles Wells recruitment & PR manager Kate Hempsall said: "We've had applicants from all over the world and in the past six months have appointed licensees from Cyprus and Spain into our pubs."