UK becoming far cheaper for expats

The latest Cost of Living report from global mobility specialist, ECA International (ECA) reveals that cities in the UK dropped eight places on average over the last 12 months, with Central London posting its lowest ever position in the global rankings.

According to the report, continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the fallout from the US-China trade war has had a negative impact on value of the pound, making it cheaper for visitors and international expats working and living in the UK.

ECA International’s Cost of Living Survey compares a basket of like-for-like consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in more than 480 locations worldwide. The survey helps businesses to ensure that their employees’ spending power is maintained when they are sent on international assignments.

The decline of cost of living in Central London, which has seen the location fall 130 places from its highest recorded position of 10th in 2007, means that it is now more expensive for British expats to travel to the US, Australia and certain non-eurozone locations.

Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International, said: “The UK is the cheapest it has been for foreign workers but figures suggest that this is not leading to an influx of investment because of the uncertainty over Brexit. Meanwhile it has become more expensive for UK firms to send staff abroad. While uncertainty may decrease after the election and push up the value of pound, there could be years of complicated trade talks ahead so expect the UK to see more fluctuations in the ranking in years to come.”

Conversely, a weakened euro combined with slow growth, particularly in Germany which narrowly avoided recession, has seen almost all eurozone locations drop in rankings, with seven locations tumbling out of the top 100, including major European cities such as The Hague, Lyon, Rome, Berlin and Munich.

Despite Dublin dropping 10 places in the global rankings, Ireland’s capital remains in the top 100 (87th), ahead of all UK cities including Central London, Edinburgh (156th) and Manchester (162nd).

In contrast, some European locations outside of the eurozone saw significant rises in the relative cost of living, as Russian and Ukrainian locations registered big rises. Kiev (198th) witnessed the biggest increase in Europe, rising 38 places over the last 12 months, whilst Moscow (114th) and St Petersburg (168th) increased their ranking 29 and 24 places respectively.

Meanwhile Switzerland continues to have the highest cost of living in Europe with four locations in the top 10, making the country one of the most expensive locations in the world for businesses to send Brits.

A strong performance from the US dollar has seen all US locations rise by an average of 18 places, with eight locations featured in the top 50 and New York returning to the global top 20 for the first time in four years.

Article published 10th December 2019