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Live well for less: Money-saving tips for expats

With a strong economy and a welcoming, tolerant culture, the U.K. attracts many expats from all over the world.

But it’s not always the cheapest place to live, particularly for those who settle in the more popular areas.

Luckily, there are many simple and easy ways to save money. With a little bit of research and planning, expats can take advantage of the country’s excellent living standards for less.

Getting around

Most expats living in London choose to save on the cost of running a car. Travel on trains and buses is easy. Simply use your contactless debit card, or a prepaid “Oyster” card. Tap in at the beginning of your journey and out at the end. The lowest fare will be calculated to make sure you never pay more than you need to.

When travelling around the country, it pays to plan in advance. Booking trains a few weeks — or even just days — before you travel could save you a significant amount of money. You may also want to consider travelling by coach. National Express and Megabus offer a cheaper alternative to trains but they do take a little longer.

Paying the bills

Household bills are a common cause for complaint for U.K. homeowners, particularly in the winter months when keeping warm can prove expensive. Luckily, an increasingly competitive energy market means it’s easier than ever to shop around for the best tariffs.

The same applies to almost all your monthly bills. Everything from mobile phone charges, to broadband, to household insurance prices can be compared easily, helping you find a better deal. Popular price comparison sites include:

Many companies rely on customers renewing contracts without making the effort to compare prices. Budget-conscious expats may be surprised how much they could save with a little effort.

Cheaper eating

If you’re a bit of a foodie, you’ll be glad to hear that the U.K. has a thriving culinary scene. Eating at a café or restaurant may not always be the cheapest option, but great deals are available.

Most restaurants will offer cheap deals at lunchtime or in the early evening. Planning meals around these times could save you a lot of money. In a competitive market, many of the big high-street chains also offer vouchers and discount codes online — so checking the website before you go is always a good idea.

With a wide range of supermarkets – including a growing number of discount retailers — finding reasonably priced food to cook at home shouldn’t be a problem.

Getting a better deal

The Brits’ natural reserve means that haggling over price is not encouraged in most situations. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you’re buying larger purchases — such as a house or a car — it’s expected that you will make an offer rather than pay a fixed price. Make sure you start out low to get the best deal!

Protecting your health

One area where many expats are tempted to make savings is health insurance. The U.K. does have a publicly funded National Health Service (NHS), which most people can access for free.

To make sure you stay covered — before, during and after your move — contact Aetna International for a health care and wellness benefits quote today.

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