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Cost of living goes up for British expats

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The cost of living abroad is heading upwards for many British expatriates, a new study has found.

According to the latest Post Office Expat Payments Index, living costs have gone up by 11 per cent on average in the last year.

The rate of increase was found to be particularly strong in eurozone countries, where hikes of almost 15 per cent have been observed.

In Spain, for instance, nearly three-quarters of expats have seen fuel prices go up by more than one-tenth since 2011. Meanwhile, more than eight in ten Britons who live in Portugal said food and utility bills have gone up by a similar proportion in the same period.

Britons who want to transfer money to the UK or other countries have therefore been advised to take steps to secure the best currency exchange rates, such as not using high street banks.

Michael Gibbon, head of Post Office International Payments, commented: "Depending on which bank they use and how much they transfer, they could lose hundreds of pounds every year that could help offset the higher prices for food, motoring and household necessities."

Indeed, he argued that by using the less favourable rates charged by banks, lots of British expats are sending their "hard-earned cash down the plughole".

Mr Gibbon noted that sterling is currently at a four-year high against the euro. This, he said, means it could be in their interests to "transfer smaller amounts more frequently", as it would help them benefit from the favourable exchange rate.

The eurozone crisis was found to be impacting on the confidence of many expats who live in countries that use the single European currency. Figures showed that three-quarters of Britons who live in the financial bloc have cut back on their spending and made changes to their lifestyle to absorb the rises in living costs.

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