Early forecasts and reports present the possibility of 50 000 Eastern Europeans coming into the UK each year (for five years), so presumably these expats are expecting to enjoy a better life in the UK… but will they? As the UK prepares for January 1 2014 and the withdrawal of the Freedom of Movement law, what kind of lifestyle would any new UK-based expat could expect?
The UK is a colourful, culturally significant and linguistically appealing country for many European visitors. Of course there’s London, and its abundance of obvious attractions that epitomise our nation’s rich heritage, vibrant culture and potential for success. But this perspective is usually seen through rose-tinted glasses; what of the everyday reality of life in the UK?
Many Romanians and Bulgarians will travel to the UK for all the aforementioned reasons and more, but like many newcomers they could be overlooking the problems of everyday life that the typical, financially challenged Brit faces on a daily basis. So, let’s look at the less appealing side of life in the UK and the causes for concern that are inspiring more and more Brits to become expats themselves.
The most recent development comes in ever-rising fuel prices. Some countries such as Venezuela have been known to pay just 8p per litre, whilst UK costs are fast approaching £1.50. Whether for the home or car, the cost of fuel and power is undeniably, perhaps obscenely expensive and yes, as warnings suggest, another price increase at the pumps is imminent.
The UK also hosts some of the world’s most challenging sectors of daily life and with such uninspiring employment prospects, a property market in paralysis and a sorely underfunded education system to name but a few, it seems incomprehensible that a move to the UK would make sense for anyone. Lloyds TSB International’s Private Bank Director Richard Musty commented:
“Expats are increasingly turning temporary overseas work into a permanent move and it does seem that the UK is losing its allure for many people who have experienced different cultures and lifestyles. Availability of jobs and the cost of living certainly plays a role, but as our research shows, lifestyle factors can also be decisive in where people chose to live.”
Conversely and somewhat startlingly, an Eastern European lifestyle can offer a higher quality of life for British expats. Whilst income is comparatively low, so too is income tax (16%) but other outgoings see a massive reduction. Two examples from each end of the scale perfectly illustrate this point: Romania’s council tax costs less than £30 per year and the price of lager currently stands at just £1 per pint.
For some Brits, choosing to leave for a lower cost of living might appear to be something of a crazy move, but when British expats in eastern Europe can do very well, choosing to stay in an economically stagnant country that costs the earth may not seem like a great idea either. The impending culture clash that’s sure to be seen should provide some invaluable expat insight, so watch this space
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