*(10cc – “Wall Street Shuffle”)
With the recent collapse in the pound’s value, those expats whose primary means of support is in sterling (like pensions, for example) are feeling the pinch just now – and some would-be expats are finding that they’re having to postpone their escape from the UK.
The Daily Telegraph reported last week that costs have risen dramatically within the past six months. Research from Foreign Currency Direct shows that living as an expat in the Eurozone (including the hugely popular expat destination of Spain, as well as France and other Mediterranean sunspots such as Malta) has risen by roughly 20 per cent.
Much the same can be said of the USA, with the average property price shooting up by over £32,000. This applies to the cost of living more generally, not just property. The Telegraph quotes a nice figure to illustrate this – the cost of a medium cappuccino in Starbucks, which has risen from £2.74 to £3.27. (Reminds us a bit of The Economist‘s famous “Big Mac” index, which is a good rough-and-ready way of measuring purchasing power around the world.)
It’s not quite so gloomy everywhere you look. Canada, a perennially popular destination as far as users of the British Expat forums are concerned, has only increased in price by 3 per cent as a result of currency movements – the pound has held its own comparatively well against the Canadian dollar. But prices have moved upwards for Australia and New Zealand-based British expats – although by a relatively modest 15 per cent in Australia and 8 per cent in New Zealand.
Is there anything you can do to ease the pain? Ultimately, probably not – if the rate is bad, then you have to wear it. But on the other hand, if you’re moving large amounts of currency around then it really does pay to look beyond your bank. There are several currency exchange specialists who can move the money quickly for you at an agreed rate that can be far better than what the banks offer.
(We’ve had personal experience of this. Our own bank in the Isle of Man wanted to charge us a hefty sum to transfer money from the dollar account we held with them into the sterling account we held at exactly the same branch! We asked CurrencyUK what we’d get if we did the exchange through them instead – and got a much better deal, even after paying the CHAPS transfer fee to send them the money.)
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