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Monthly wrap: Cost of living comparison - Best places to live in a post Covid-19 world

currency-newsMonthly wrap: Cost of living comparison - Best places to live in a post Covid-19 world
Many of us have reconsidered our lifestyle and priorities during lockdown, in areas such as health, mental wellbeing, work, and where to live.

The best way to change your lifestyle for the better can be a move abroad. Living in another country can improve your quality of life, finances, aspirations, or career. The lower cost of living compared to the UK adds even more appeal.

According to HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer study, expats often increase their income by up to 74% when they move abroad. Added to this, benefits such as less stress, warmer climates, and better work-life balance convince Brits to make the move.

Importantly, it’s worth looking into destinations where the British Pound will go further and keep the cost of living compared to the UK down.

Australia – sunshine, higher wages, and a cheaper cost of living

Australia ranks as the sixth-best country for expats in HSBC’s survey, and with good reason.

Firstly, it’s one of the world’s leaders when it comes to mental wellbeing and physical health, and secondly, for its overall quality of life. Australia offers a great work-life balance and is ideal if you prefer to spend your time outside.

Many expats also value Australia for its high level of healthcare, incredible landscapes, and access to nature and beaches. Perhaps key for many Brits moving to Australia is the 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, which is exactly double what we get in Britain!

Importantly for your move, the cost of living compared to the UK is lower for the essentials. With property prices around a third lower compared to the UK and ensuring a good pound to Australian dollar exchange rate, property is affordable and offers more space than the UK.
Australia, Sydney – The Essentials
Product/Service London (£/AU$) Sydney (£/AU$) Difference (%)
Basics (Electricity, Heating, Water, Rubbish, etc.) £168.59 / AU$300.40 £110.92 / A$197.65 -34.21%
Property prices (per m2) in city centre £11,523.59 / AU$20,533.77 £8,053.30 / AU$14.350.09 -30.11%
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) £2,780.01 / A$4,953.67 £3,051.27 / AU$5,437.03 +9.76%
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant £15.00 / AU$26.73 £11.22 / AU$20.00   -25.17%
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught) £5.00 / $8.91 £4.49 / AU$8.00 -10.21%
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) £2.80 / AU$4.99 £2.49 / AU$4.44 -11.01%

Finland – Europe’s happiest country

The World Happiness Report for 2020 puts Finland at the top, and it’s easy to see why. Finland prioritises wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance.

Out of this list, Finland provides the best social care, with free healthcare, gender equality and a strong sense of community.

As a nation, Finland is also very frugal, with over 50% of the population donating to good causes, according to the World Economic Forum. This is perhaps reflected in the low cost of living as basic monthly bills come in under half of what they would be in the UK.

It seems Finland’s focus on family and work-life balance is attracting expats with a similar mindset, with 88% of expats aged between 15 and 64 which is the highest percentage in the EU. The only downside is a slightly more expensive beer.
Finland, Helsinki – The Essentials
Product/Service London (£/€) Helsinki (£/€) Difference (%)
Basics (Electricity, Heating, Water, Rubbish, etc.) £168.59 / €186.65 £76.95 / €85.20 -54.35%
Property prices (per m2) in city centre £11,523.59 / €12,758.04 £7,056.94 /
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) £2,780.01 /
£2,311.10 /
-16.87 %
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant £15.00 / €16.61 £11.74 / €13.30 -21.72%
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught) £5.00 / €5.54 £5.87 / €6.50 +17.42%
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) £2.80 / €3.10 £2.53 / €2.80 -9.68%


Spain – the expat’s favourite where the pound goes further

Spain will always remain a favourite with British expats, especially if you’re looking to spend retirement in the sun.

Well known as one of the best places in the world to retire, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that 41% of British expats in Spain are 65 or over.

It’s not only the Costas that offer a relaxed life, Time Out recorded Madrid as being one of the world’s least stressed cities. With cheap property and a low cost to go out compared to Britain, the Spanish capital offers younger expats a fantastic lifestyle.

Despite Spain being hit hard by the coronavirus, hopes are quickly returning that Spain will remain one of the most sought-after places in Europe to retire.
Spain, Madrid – The Essentials
Product/Service London (£/€) Madrid (£/€) Difference (%)
Basics (Electricity, Heating, Water, Rubbish, etc.) £168.59 / €185.82 £122.54 / €135.07 -27.31%
Property prices (per m2) in city centre £11,523.59 / €12,701.60 £4,705.13 / € 5,186.12 -59.17%
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) £2,780.01 / €3,064.20 £1,471.47 / €1,621.89 -47.07%
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant £15.00 / €16.53 £10.89 / €12.00 -27.42%
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught) £5.00 / €5.51 £2.72 / €3.00 -45.56%
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) £2.80 / €3.09 £1.36 / €1.50      -51.40%

Canada – a post-Covid-19 safe haven?

Canada is fast becoming an expat favourite. Compared to the United States, Canada is remarkably steady, with a level of political and economic stability that may be envied following the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Canada’s government data, out of the nation’s 37.5 million people, 31% of them point to the UK as their place of origin. Also, Canada has an excellent education system, with a third of students from overseas – so children won’t feel out of place.  

Canadians are known to be friendly, so it’s no surprise that Canada is considered one of the most welcoming countries in the world, according to HSCB’s survey.

Canada is also a cheap place to live, property prices are 75% lower compared to the UK, and the cost of household bills is nearly half. Adding this to the pound to Canadian dollar exchange rate that will make your money go further, a move to Canada is especially lucrative for UK citizens.
Canada, Ottawa: The Essentials
Product/Service London (£/CA$) Ottawa (£/CA$) Difference (%)
Basics (Electricity, Heating, Water, Rubbish, etc.) £168.59 / CA$288.32 £90.23 / CA$154.31 -46.48%
Property prices (per m2) in city centre £11,523.59 / CA$19,708.10 £2,811.75 / CA$4,808.76 -75.60%
Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) £2,772.47 / CA$4,741.59 £2,171.81 / CA$3,714.32 -21.67%
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant £15.00 / CA$25.65 £10.52 / CA$18.00 -29.83%
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught) £5.00 / CA$8.55 £4.09 / CA$7.00 -18.14%
A post Covid-19 world may seem difficult to imagine at moment. However, with the economic picture fast unfolding, lockdowns easing, and positive reports of vaccine development, a move abroad could be within sight.

With the volatility of currency markets, now could also be the time to start planning to get the best from fluctuating exchange rates. Getting the most from pound exchange rates will give you a boost to start a new life abroad make the best of the lower cost of living compared to the UK.
Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.

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