Tuesday 24th July 2012

British expatriates living abroad face increasing living costs

British expatriates living abroad are facing rises in living costs that are almost four times that of the rate of inflation in their home country.

Research by the Post Office Expat Payments Index found that many British expatriates living overseas have experienced rising living costs of over 11% since last year, with those living in the Eurozone experiencing increases of 15%.

The survey, which involved 900 British expats living overseas, established that, on average, Brits abroad were paying more than 10% more on household expenditure, motoring and groceries than they were in the previous year and of those surveyed, 20% claimed that their costs had risen by more than 20%. Just 3.5% of those surveyed said that they had not noticed an increase in living costs.

Expatriates living in Spain, Cyprus and Portugal have been the hardest hit by increases in living costs.

Meanwhile, while the cost of living may have increased, the value of overseas properties has not. A total of 72% of the expatriates surveyed who own property overseas revealed that the value of the home had stayed the same or fallen over the course of the last year and 10% said that the value of their property had actually fallen by more than 20%.

While many people made a move overseas to escape the high unemployment and living costs of the U.K. it appears that they may have been better off if they had stayed at home. In May the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation in the U.K. finally dropped to 2.8%, its lowest level since the global financial meltdown hit in 2009.

The survey also discovered that many expatriates are wasting their money by transferring foods from country to country using their bank. The survey estimated that the circa 1,375 million U.K. expats who transfer money via their bank waste a total of 217 GBP per year on transfer fees.

Commenting on the findings, Michael Gibbon, Head of Post Office International Payments, said: “With rising prices and falling property values overseas, it is no wonder that confidence is low amongst the expat community. However, many expats are sending hard-earned cash down the plughole simply by paying charges to transfer funds via their bank. Depending on which bank they use and how much they transfer, they could lose hundreds of pounds every year that could help offset the higher prices for food, motoring and household necessities.

“With sterling experiencing a four year high against the euro, people who send funds in larger amounts once or twice a year might want to transfer smaller amounts more frequently to take advantage of the improved euro exchange rate. If they do that through a bank they will pay hefty bank charges but with Post Office International Payments it will not cost them anything.”

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