An expensive life in the UK for expats

It appears that it isn’t only British citizens that look to move abroad for a better life; expatriates based in the UK are now also looking to leave amid accusations that pay is too low, living expenses are too high and the government imposed fines make living in this European country impossible.

Recent findings from the HSBC International Expat Explorer Survey revealed that expats living in Great Britain have generally lower income than those based elsewhere in the world, with 20% of such expatriates earning $60,000 USD or less a year. Furthermore, people based in the UK found that they had much less disposable income as a direct result of high accommodation costs. It is no surprise, therefore, that a staggering 44% of those surveyed in Great Britain revealed that they planned to return home as a result of the current global financial crisis.

Aside from the hefty living expenses in the UK, a further explanation for expatriates’ dismay with life in Britain could be attributed to the fact that expatriates who have lived in the UK for more than seven years are now expected to pay a fee of 30,000 GBP on an annual basis in order to avoid taxation on any remitted funds. The only alternative to this, is to forgo the status that shields any overseas income from British taxes, the repercussions of which would be equally expensive given the UK’s 50% tax rate on funds over a given value. Commenting on the taxation requirements, Mark Tiden, a consultant at economic and financial consulting firm CRA International, claimed, “Expats feel the tone has changed; it’s less welcoming, (…) London’s ability to attract talent has gone down.”

A mass exodus of expatriates will not be welcome news to the UK government. The current economic picture is very gloomy. According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, in the second quarter 2009, the economy shrank 5.6%, compared with 3.9% in the US. The financial industry in London lost approximately 29, 500 jobs, 8.3% of the total.

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