Most expats move abroad to benefit from a more relaxed lifestyle; for many this involves enjoying a few of life’s little luxuries. Everything comes with a price tag though, and at a time when living costs in the UK are under the spotlight it’s worth taking a look at how prices vary between countries.
Once any mortgage or rental payments, council tax, groceries and utilities bills are all paid for, it’s often life’s little luxuries that cut into an expat’s monthly budget. It’s all very well fuel being cheap abroad, but if you have to pay a small fortune for a drink or meal out, that saving may become inconsequential.
Using our team of expat writers living around the world, The Overseas Guides Company did a bit of research. For starters, we found out that France remains one of the cheapest places to enjoy a quality glass of wine. Alexis Goldberg, an Overseas Guides Company writer based in the Languedoc, said: “One of our favourite things to do is enjoy a drink in our local bar on an evening and despite all of the years that we have called the Languedoc home, it never fails to be a pleasant surprise when we are charged just €1.20 (approximately £1.02) for a large glass of lovely wine that you would be likely to pay £5 or more for back in the UK”.
Alexis also revealed that at €3 (£2.58) a glass, beer is slightly more expensive than wine in her local town. If beer is your drink of choice, expats may be wise to look further south for the real bargains.
Ben Taylor, based in the Algarve, tells us that you will pay just €1.20 for a regular-sized beer (typically half a pint) compared with the equivalent over here, which normally hovers around the £2.50 mark – more if you are in London. Italy follows closely behind with a glass of beer setting you back just €2 (£1.70) in a village bar.
How about if you fancy a night out? Where will you have to part with a small fortune for the pleasure of watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster? Cinema ticket prices in the UK average around £6.40 but can be as much as £10 or even more in big cities. When looking at the results of the survey, it seems that the price of a flick is much of a muchness across Europe – France €5-€7 (£6), Spain €7 (£6), Cyprus €8 (£7), Turkey 20TL (£7). It is the USA where you’ll find the cheapest cinema ticket, coming in at just $9, or £5.70.
Although the ticket in the US costs less, to precede the film with a romantic dinner shoots the US back up to its position as one of the more expensive expat destinations. Writer Carole Wirszyla, who lives with her family in North Carolina, confirms that, “alcoholic drinks can push the restaurant bill up significantly but it is possible to get a meal for two in a nice restaurant for $50 (£33) but don’t forget that you will have to pay a 20 percent tip on top of that. When it comes to grabbing a quick bite or drink, you have to tip every time – this needs to be factored into your budget if you’re planning a move to the USA”.
When it comes to dining, things are considerably cheaper back across the pond in Europe where set menus offer the best value. Sally Veall, The Overseas Guides Company Spain writer on the Costa Brava, said: “A typical set menu, which is always fresh and delicious, should only cost around €12 (£10.27) and this includes food, water and wine.” A similar set menu, complete with food, water and wine, is the same price in neighbouring Portugal (€12), France €12-15 (£10-13), Italy €12 and €10-15 in Cyprus, but with wine excluded. In Turkey, things are a little pricier – a set meal costs around 50TL (£18) per head.
Richard Way is Editor of The Overseas Guides Company, 0207 898 0549.