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Comparing the costs of moving abroad: EU vs. the Commonwealth

By HiFX   /     Jan 10, 2017  /     Money Matters  /     , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the day after the EU Referendum results, there was a spike in Google searches for the term “how to emigrate”. These were accompanied by a number of searches from people thinking about moving to specific countries; France, Ireland, Australia and Canada were some of the most popular choices. Recent figures have revealed there was also a 40% increase in Irish passport applications from Britain in 2016, in part because an Irish passport could help British citizens retain the right to travel and work in the EU without visa restrictions after Brexit. This all suggests that, for many people, 2017 could be the year that they decide to start a new life in a new country.

In the past, Spain, Ireland and France have been some of the most popular destinations for Brits thinking about moving abroad. However, following the Brexit vote, it is now unclear whether these destinations will remain as desirable as they were in the past, as it is possible that living in these countries could become more complicated and more expensive after the UK has left the EU. So those thinking of moving abroad may now start thinking further afield, perhaps to a fellow Commonwealth country such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada.

We’ve used the cost of living website Numbeo to see how the cost of living compares across each of these countries, to help give you a sense of what you could expect from each of them. Numbeo uses New York as a benchmark for its global cost of living index; a score of, for example, 70 means that average costs in that city are 30% less expensive than costs in New York. The property price index looks at mortgage as a percentage of income in each country to determine housing affordability. These figures help to give a sense of how costs compare around the world:

Comparing cost of living abroad


Moving to Europe

Some people may feel that they want to move to somewhere within the EU sooner rather than later, while they still can with relative ease. Both the UK and the EU have been clear that no changes will come into effect until the end of the negotiating period following the triggering of Article 50, which will be March 2019 at the earliest. However, others may feel concerned due to the uncertainty surrounding such a move – it is currently unclear what Brexit will mean for expats in terms of residency rights, work permits, taxes, healthcare, pensions and more.

But if you do wish to make the move now, it is worth considering what the costs involved would be like, particularly considering recent fluctuations between the Pound and the Euro. The good news is that, although the Pound might not buy you as many Euros as it did this time last year, the cost of living is also lower in some part of Europe. Spain is particularly appealing due to its lower costs across the board, including properties, groceries and eating out.

The picture is more mixed in the other popular EU destinations, France and Ireland, so this may be worth considering. But while there is a greater cost attached to some aspects of daily life, there could be some good opportunities as well, as Ireland property prices are similar to Spain’s while France could offer some more affordable renting options.

Moving further afield

The first thing to consider when looking at moving to a Commonwealth country is that, under the current system, there will be more paperwork involved (although there is speculation that this could change after the UK has left the EU). You will need a visa to move to Australia, New Zealand or Canada, so it might be worth familiarising yourself with the requirements early in the planning stages.

Overall, the cost of living is reasonably comparable between each of these countries and the UK. Canada is slightly cheaper than the UK overall, while Australia and New Zealand are slightly more expensive. The good news is that property prices in all three countries are generally more favourable than the UK, although this will depend on exactly where you are looking. For example, the property price index in Sydney is currently 88.62, while costs are significantly lower in other cities such as Melbourne (57.69), Brisbane (54.54), Perth (50.64), Adelaide (48.51) and Canberra (40.52). So you may wish to explore a few different areas to find the one that is most suitable for you.

Making your money go further

Wherever you are thinking of moving to, HiFX can help you make the most of your money. There are a number of ways a HiFX account could help you:

Daily rates updates – keep track of exchange rates so you can familiarise yourself with general trends, understand your costs and see when it is best to transfer your money between the UK and your new home.
Rate alerts – get notified immediately when an exchange rate hits your target amount, so you don’t have to keep watching the markets.
Quick, easy, secure transfers – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our website.
Forward contracts – if you need to make a payment of over £10,000, such as for a deposit on a house, you can use a forward payment to secure an exchange rate for up to three years. This means you don’t have to worry about the exchange rate suddenly moving against you.
Regular payment agreements – get a set amount automatically transferred to you each month at an exchange rate you that you can secure for up to two years, so you always know exactly how much you’ll have available to spend.

If you’d like to find out more about how HiFX could help you, please contact us.


All data was sourced from cost of living website Numbeo and was correct at time of writing. Numbeo data is regularly updated to reflect regional economic changes.

The details expressed in this transmission and accompanying documents are for information purposes only and are not intended as a solicitation for funds or a recommendation to trade. HiFX Europe Limited accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damages suffered through any act or omission taken as a result of reading or interpreting any of the above information. HiFX Europe Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009, registration 462444, for the provision of payment services. HiFX Europe Limited is a registered MSB with HM Revenue & Customs – Reg No: 12131222. HiFX is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 3517451. Registered office: Maxis 1, Western Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1RT


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