Home » Expat Focus International News Update November 2023

Expat Focus International News Update November 2023

Helsinki Named ‘Best City’ in Europe

Conde Nast Traveller magazine has named the Finnish capital of Helsinki as the best city in Europe for British expats to move to in 2023. Safe, clean and friendly, Helsinki scores highly in terms of walkability, too. Back in March, defying its stereotypical reputation for national gloom, Finland also attained the top spot in the World Happiness Report (followed by Denmark, Iceland, Israel, and the Netherlands and other European capitals). In the latest listing from CN Traveller, Helsinki scored higher than Stuttgart, Zurich and Prague.

What is it about Helsinki that makes it so appealing? CN Traveller rates the city for food, although it places it below Copenhagen when it comes to restaurants. The guide says that, when it comes to Scandinavian capitals, the city has a ‘gentler beat’ than Stockholm and is more ‘under the radar’ than Reykjavik. Walking is the best way to explore – Helsinki isn’t big and it takes under an hour to cross the city on foot. Its famous market is by the harbour, and boat trips are a pleasant way to get to know the 300 islands nearby. Art and design museums, including the new Guggenheim, provide a dose of culture, and there’s some attractive Finnish designer labels, stationery and textile stores when it comes to shopping.

Finland has a reputation for being expensive, like its Scandinavian neighbours, yet renting is more reasonable than in the other capitals on the Conde Nast list, with an average cost of around £860 per month for a one-bedroom flat. The average monthly cost of living is around £2,309. However, taxes are steep – with approximately a 35% income tax and 34% VAT.

Population statistics are an indicator of Finland’s popularity with expats; out of its 631,000 or so inhabitants, over 100,000 are expats. It has a number of English-language international schools and, as with other Scandinavian nations, a good reputation for education. The country is liberal, with strong social services and an excellent standard of healthcare. 

If you can cope with high taxes, the cold (Finland can reach well into the minus 20s and even 30s), and dark winters, Helsinki might be a good choice. And every modern flat has a sauna, so if winter living is your thing, the Finnish capital is well worth consideration. 

Malaga Top Destination for Expat Retirees

Malaga has been ranked as the top city in Spain for the over 60s, in a new listing by Forbes magazine. Climate, walkability and public transport, safety and low crime rates all contribute to Forbes’ ranking, along with the city’s strong cultural and artistic pulls. It’s also affordable, both in terms of renting and buying, and has a good reputation for food. 


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Malaga has been a favourite destination for British expats for many years, and the new report suggests that, even post-Brexit, the city still holds a considerable appeal for retirees in search of sun, safety and a decent cost of living. It has the second largest British expat community in Spain, after Alicante, with around 56,000 Brits resident in the city. 

Spain and the 90-Day Rule

Over the past year, there have been indications that Spain is considering abolishing the 90-day residency rule for Brits following Brexit. Fernando Valdés, the Spanish Tourism Secretary, has been vocal about this since November 2022. Spain has committed €200 million to enhance ‘sun and sea’ destinations, aiming to elevate the quality of the tourist experience. Valdés also observed that senior citizens from countries like Switzerland and Germany have been spending the winter months in Spain to evade the high energy costs back home, with Brits following suit. Valdés expressed his desire for Spain to become a year-round destination for tourists.

Speculation about the repeal of the residency restriction gained momentum this October, following local media reports that Spanish officials plan to urge Brussels to amend the legislation. Tourism accounts for 12% of Spain’s GDP, and as seen in Malaga, there is a substantial British expatriate community in Spain. These residents significantly bolster the economy, with many also owning property. Previous reports have highlighted the challenges faced by British homeowners due to the enforcement of the 90-day rule.

The Spanish authorities have already removed restrictions on visas for British Touring Performers, but the residency issue is more complex. The Spanish government has stated:

Unfortunately, (the rule) is not something Spain has established by itself or can get rid of. It is in our interest to lobby and convince (the EU) we can try to work an exception with them. But the solution must come from them.

Portugal Highly Rated in Wine Tourism Survey

Bounce Luggage Storage has released its latest Wine Lover’s Index, revealing that Portugal is the highest-ranking contender in the survey. The nation was awarded 8.83 points out of 10 by the Index, followed by Moldova at 8.16 and Italy at 7.86. The Index says that over 2% of Portugal is covered by vineyards, and on average 58 litres are consumed annually by residents. Moldova has a higher percentage of vineyards, however – around 3% of the country is occupied by viticulture, particularly in the Codru region and the network of underground wine cellars, such as the Mileștii Mici. The full ranking is:

  • Portugal
  • Moldova
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Georgia
  • France
  • Hungary
  • New Zealand
  • Greece
  • Chile

The Portuguese are also the biggest consumers of wine per capita. On the other hand, Italy, followed by Spain and France, are the biggest exporters of wine in the world.  And where’s the cheapest place to buy a bottle of wine? That would be Argentina, where wine costs on average USD$3 per bottle.


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In this short video, we dive into the significant health care updates and changes happening globally in 2024. From Germany's insurance cost adjustments to Cyprus's renewed COVID-19 precautions, we cover the essential news you need to know.  Germany's Health Insurance Update:  Starting in 2024, residents in Germany will see a slight increase in their health insurance costs, with a 0.1% rise to a maximum of 1.7%. This adjustment aims to expand coverage for medical care not currently included in statutory health insurance, such as select dental treatments, IVF, and early cancer screenings.  COVID-19 Measures Reintroduced in Cyprus:  With over 3000 new COVID-19 cases, Cyprus is stepping up its game by reintroducing health measures. Requirements now include proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry into various facilities, emphasizing the importance of vaccination, especially for the elderly, to combat the evolving virus strains.  Free Health Trials in Trieste, Italy:  Trieste launches an initiative for free health screenings, including echocardiograms and blood tests, focusing on preventive care against non-communicable diseases. This move underscores the city's commitment to improving public health through early detection and prevention.  Spain's New Health Advice App:  Madrid introduces a groundbreaking app offering reliable health advice to counteract the widespread misinformation online. This app, part of the 'Madrid Te Cuida' initiative, will guide users to accurate information, from diet tips to medical queries, ensuring the advice is vetted by health professionals.  Expat Satisfaction with Healthcare in Mexico:  A study reveals that expat retirees in Mexico are largely content with the healthcare quality and costs, with many citing significant savings compared to the United States without compromising on care quality. This insight sheds light on the growing trend of healthcare tourism and relocation for medical reasons.  Stay tuned as we unpack these updates, providing you with the insights and implications of these healthcare changes. Whether it's the impact on your wallet or the quality of care you can expect, we've got you covered in this comprehensive overview of health care in 2024. Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more health news around the globe!

In this short video, we dive into the significant health care updates and changes happening globally in 2024. From Germany's insurance cost adjustments to Cyprus's renewed COVID-19 precautions, we cover the essential news you need to know.

Germany's Health Insurance Update:

Starting in 2024, residents in Germany will see a slight increase in their health insurance costs, with a 0.1% rise to a maximum of 1.7%. This adjustment aims to expand coverage for medical care not currently included in statutory health insurance, such as select dental treatments, IVF, and early cancer screenings.

COVID-19 Measures Reintroduced in Cyprus:

With over 3000 new COVID-19 cases, Cyprus is stepping up its game by reintroducing health measures. Requirements now include proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry into various facilities, emphasizing the importance of vaccination, especially for the elderly, to combat the evolving virus strains.

Free Health Trials in Trieste, Italy:

Trieste launches an initiative for free health screenings, including echocardiograms and blood tests, focusing on preventive care against non-communicable diseases. This move underscores the city's commitment to improving public health through early detection and prevention.

Spain's New Health Advice App:

Madrid introduces a groundbreaking app offering reliable health advice to counteract the widespread misinformation online. This app, part of the 'Madrid Te Cuida' initiative, will guide users to accurate information, from diet tips to medical queries, ensuring the advice is vetted by health professionals.

Expat Satisfaction with Healthcare in Mexico:

A study reveals that expat retirees in Mexico are largely content with the healthcare quality and costs, with many citing significant savings compared to the United States without compromising on care quality. This insight sheds light on the growing trend of healthcare tourism and relocation for medical reasons.

Stay tuned as we unpack these updates, providing you with the insights and implications of these healthcare changes. Whether it's the impact on your wallet or the quality of care you can expect, we've got you covered in this comprehensive overview of health care in 2024. Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe for more health news around the globe!

YouTube Video UCB21b-C4O2aXm7H18_GsXMQ_nC_Fs6gU22U

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update January 2024

Expat Focus 31 January 2024 10:36 am

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