Your Overseas Home
The Overseas Cost of Living Index 2023
Bills raining down? Mortgage costs rising as the temperature drops?
Have you ever considered moving abroad for a simpler, cheaper, and sunnier life?
At Your Overseas Home, we know that thousands of Britons are considering moving abroad – more so than ever! UK natives are looking to jump ship to avoid high energy costs and the never-ending price rises, which resulted in UK food prices rising at their fastest on record* and restaurant prices by 26% in just two years**.
But if you’re moving under the assumption that you’ll be getting more for your money, you could very well be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Prices have shot up across the eurozone too.
So, is it really cheaper to live abroad in 2023?
The Overseas Cost of Living Index from Your Overseas Home has the answers. It covers seven of the most popular moving abroad countries including Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Cyprus, and Greece, with bang up-to-date data*** revealing everything from the cost of staples like bread and milk, to quintessential British favourites like breakfast tea bags and gin, and everything in between.
The cost of living abroad, not just visiting
It’s all about setting up a proper home abroad and not just looking at the cost for a short trip. While other cost of living surveys focus on holidays and travelling, ours goes that little bit further to cover the everyday expenses that a holiday home buyer, expat, or retiree will realistically be shelling out day-to-day.
Our “basket of goods” includes staples like a litre of milk and a loaf of bread, but adds a few British favourites like the all-important teabags and a bottle of gin.
We’ve also looked at and compared the cost of actually setting up your new home, including decorating materials and a new TV, or the identical Ikea furniture bought in both Malaga and Manchester. We’ve even looked into the cost of a week’s car hire (and a tank of petrol to go in it).
Many property buyers are looking for a more laid-back and relaxed lifestyle, so we’ve also checked the prices of popular leisure items and activities – from paperbacks and video games to running shoes and a Spotify subscription. And because some things are just weirdly expensive abroad, such as paracetamol in Italy or fresh fish in Greece, we’ve analysed those items too!
In the supermarket…
When it comes to cupboard and fridge staples like bread, butter, milk, apples, dog food, chocolate and laundry detergent, shopping in Italy is far cheaper than in any other country we looked at. To fill your basket with the 17 basic items we analysed, you should expect to pay around £48.82.
It probably comes as no surprise that the UK is almost 40% more expensive. In fact, when it comes to the average supermarket shop, it’s the most expensive country on our list. Most notably fish, chocolate and gin are more than double the price in the UK compared to Italy. It turns out that the UK does in fact have the cheapest lettuce and pineapple prices… but we’re sure you’ll agree that we’d prefer cheap chocolate and booze!
Getting out and about…
The UK has seen a steep rise in the price of fuel over the last year, but this has been felt across Europe too. In fact, Greece currently has the highest fuel prices among the countries we’ve examined. To buy 50 litres of unleaded petrol, you’ll be shelling out around £86 in Greece, £82 in Germany, and £78 in Portugal. In comparison, the same amount is around £81 in the UK.
We also looked at the cost of hiring a car, and the price of a return train ticket if you were travelling to another town around an hour away. Overall, the UK is the most expensive in terms of travel, closely followed by Germany and then Portugal. Travel costs are the lowest in Greece and Cyprus.
In the home…
Once you’ve found your overseas home and have made the move, you’re probably going to want to kit it out to your personal taste. So, we’ve looked at the average price of buying standard furniture and electricals, paint to decorate your new home, and even the price of hiring a domestic cleaner to keep your property spick and span.
Here’s an overview of our findings:
- Electricals – like a standard 55” Samsung TV and an Amazon Alexa Echo Dot – are the cheapest to buy in Italy and the most expensive in Spain.
- Decorating supplies are 15% more expensive in Greece, compared to the average price across the board.
- Hiring a domestic cleaner costs the most in Cyprus. A two-hour house clean in Cyprus costs around £34, compared to £30 in the UK, £17 in Italy and Greece, £21 in Spain and Portugal, and £24 in Germany.
- The price of the same standard Ikea Billy bookcase can vary by as much as £23-£24 pounds from country to country. In the UK the furniture staple costs £50, whereas in Greece the same item costs the equivalent of about £73.
With the cost of heating UK homes hitting the country’s headlines (for all the wrong reasons!), we also decided to look at the price of electricity across Europe. Surprisingly, whilst we’ve certainly not got it cheap in the UK, electricity is still more expensive in Italy, whilst it’s significantly cheaper in Greece and France. To work this out, we took the standard price per kilowatt-hour in each country and multiplied it by 100 to give a rough representative cost to heat and power a flat or small house for one week.
Hobbies and leisure…
Whether you’re moving abroad to work or retire, the price of socialising and having fun will always need to be factored in.
Our analysis shows that beer fans should head to Spain, where half a litre in a bar costs the equivalent of around £1.70, compared to the UK’s £3. It’s a similar story for coffee buffs too – in Italy and Portugal you can expect to find a medium cappuccino in a local independent coffee shop for around £1. In the UK, the same coffee will cost you around 220% more.
Surprisingly, eating out apparently costs the most in Greece. A three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant will set you back about £37. It’s cheapest to dine out in Spain, where you can get the equivalent for about £13.
And avid readers will probably want to steer clear of Germany, where paperbacks cost around £10 on average. Your home library will be cheaper to build in Cyprus, where books are around £6.90 by comparison.
We’ve kept this simple and to the point by looking at the price of healthcare essentials that you’d have to pay for, no matter where you live in Europe. In this case, we’ve looked at the price of a pack of paracetamol and a basic check up at the dentist.
Keeping your pearly whites, well, pearly white, seems to cost the most in Germany at around £50 on average, whilst it’s the cheapest in Spain at around £21.50.
And you might want to stock up on paracetamol before you leave the UK, as they’re far cheaper here than anywhere abroad. You can pick up a pack of 16 x 500 mg paracetamol pills for as little as 29p here, but expect to pay as much as £2.10 for a similar product in France, or nearly £2.60 in Italy!
There are also a few miscellaneous essentials we included in our tally, like the cost of a pair of jeans and a haircut, to give us a well-rounded picture of how much it really costs to live abroad for a sustained period of time. The numbers speak for themselves!
Despite there being a few cities and towns that have reputations for being expensive destinations, Italy is by far the cheapest place to live long term when you’re not spending like a traveller. This is even despite the fact that energy costs more in Italy!
Of course, we acknowledge the fact that the true cost of living will vary significantly from region to region, but to live in a run-of-the-mill town or village outside the usual tourist hotspots, Italy is apparently the most reasonable.
Here’s an overview of the countries we looked at, from most to least expensive:
|1. United Kingdom|
Methodology and notes on the research
We asked our network of overseas property experts to gather the data in their respective countries.
To ensure like-for-like measures, researchers abroad were given strict criteria on the kind of shops to use and product specifications to take into consideration. For example, we asked them where possible to find grocery prices in the equivalent of a Tesco supermarket in the UK, and to compare the same make and/or models of TV, trainers, jeans, chocolate etc.
- Fuel prices are for a typical tank (50 litres) of E10 unleaded petrol, as of the last week of October 2022.
- Car hire prices were for a small car, booked at a regional airport or city for one week, 15-22 November 2022.
- Train fare was for a journey the equivalent distance of London to Brighton return, off-peak, booked on the day.
- TV was a 55” Samsung QLED, 4K HDR.
- Electricity is per kilowatt-hour, for 100 hours, which is roughly the cost of a flat or small house for one week.
If you would like any more information or details on the research, please contact us at [email protected]
*** Prices and data collected in late October/early November 2022.