Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cost effective expat destinations

There’s no question that the cost of living abroad is a big factor in deciding whether or not to make the jump. Many expats who are moving away with their companies may find that this is incorporated into new salary packages and benefits, but for others, living in a new country will have a big impact on the amount of disposable income you have to spend.

With the 2014 Expat Explorer survey opening soon, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the more cost effective expat destinations revealed by those who took part in last year’s survey.

Looking at it broadly, south-east Asia emerged from the survey as one of the most cost-effective destinations for expats – with many agreeing that they had more disposable income to spend on things like clothing, groceries, public transport and accommodation compared with what they were used to at home.

Many expats in places like Thailand and Indonesia, as well as Taiwan and India, commented that they were spending much less than they used to on everyday expenses like accommodation, public and private transport and clothing.

Thailand, which scooped the top ranking in the Expat Expenses league table, is known for offering expats a high quality of life for a relatively low cost. With bigger potential savings in transport and accommodation, there are also potential savings to be had on utilities in Thailand - expats said in 2013 that they spent around 61% less than they did on this in their home countries.  


With a national currency of Thai baht, Thailand can prove to be extremely good value for money, particularly for those arriving from places like the USA and UK. The average cost for a loaf of bread can be a fraction of what might be paid in the UK – anything between the equivalent of £0.15p and £0.38p, compared to higher prices of £1-£2 and upwards.

At the other end of the spectrum, it seems that Europe is still one of the more expensive places to live as an expat, with Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK ranking among some of the more costly destinations – particularly when it comes to paying for childcare and transport.

For many expats taking trains, buses, and flights on a regular basis, the cost of transport can really add up. Running your own car can also be costly and, while the prospect of walking and cycling is an option, it’s not always easy to make this a reality in practice. The only real ways to do this are to change your lifestyle and create more time in your day – which is definitely easier said than done sometimes…!

We’d love to hear - what are your top tips for keeping the costs down as an expat? 

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