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From the recent HSBC survey of expat life:

The UK remains one of the most expensive places for expats to live – and the recession has taken its toll.

The UK emerged as an expensive destination in many categories. Compared with life in their home country, high proportions of expats in the UK claim they now spend more on their accommodation (79%), transport (68%), holidays (62%), utilities (61%) and entertainment (58%). In fact, expats in the UK spend more of their income on accommodation than expats living anywhere else in the world (85% of UK-based expats rank their home as their greatest expenditure). The second and third related items that they spend their cash on was found to be food and entertainment.

Worldwide, 74% of respondents claim to have increased disposable income since becoming expats, yet this figure falls to just 47% of expats living in the UK. In comparison, 72% of expats in the USA say they have more disposable income than before, 87% in the UAE, 76% in Switzerland (which is also perceived to be the most expensive country to be an expat), and a staggering 98% in Saudi Arabia.

Of those expats in the UK who report that their disposable income is reduced, 81% earn up to US$3000 a month less, with 15% earning between US$3500 and US$4000 less.

Food is officially one of the greatest costs to expats in the UK, with 68% of expats claiming they are spending more since moving to Britain. The only country to have higher food costs is Switzerland. In contrast, 62% of USA’s expats spend less on food than they did in their native countries. In terms of entertainment costs, more than half (58%) spend more in the UK than back home.

A staggering 78% of expats agree that they pay more for transport in the UK than anywhere else. On average only 30% worldwide think they spend more travelling than back home.

When it comes to savings and investments, 8% of expats worldwide, compared to a quarter (27%) of expats living in the UK, admitted that they save less than they did before they moved.
And the country report for the UK:

Overall ranking: 19th out of 26
Increased savings: 24th out of 26
Luxuries: 16th out of 26
Income: 10th out of 26
Disposable Income: 19th out of 26

Hit hard by the crunch, many are heading home

Expats in the UK generally have lower incomes, with 20% of expats in the UK earning $60,000 or less. Expats in the UK also have less disposable income than their counterparts elsewhere, experiencing a much higher increase in the cost of accommodation than expats moving to other regions (79% compared with 48%). In fact 86% rank this as their greatest expenditure. In response to the economic crisis, three quarters of expats in the UK (75%) have scaled down their spending on essential day-to-day items. Almost half (44% - the highest recorded figure in the survey) of expats in the UK are considering returning home in light of the current financial crisis. This provides a stark contrast when compared with the average of only 15% of expats overall who are considering the same move.

Expats in the UK were the worst savers/investors globally, with more than a quarter (27% - the highest recorded in the survey) saying that they had reduced their savings and investments when compared with life in their home country.
 
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