Can Going Abroad This Winter Help You Save Money?

Can Going Abroad This Winter Help You Save Money?

Can Going Abroad This Winter Help You Save Money?

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<p><figcaption class=Photography: Jeronimo Alba / Alamy

Rising energy bills mean that many Brits fear the arrival of winter and are considering big lifestyle changes to cope with financial pressure. So, if personal circumstances allow, how about escaping abroad for the colder months of the year?

Tom Church, the co-founder of the LatestDeals.co.uk money saving community, is one of them. He says he’s considering packing his bags after concluding that rising gas and electricity bills will cost him more than renting somewhere in Europe this winter.

“I was wondering, ‘What if I close my house, turn everything off and go for the most expensive months?’” Church said. “If you are a tenant and can cancel your contract to move abroad for a few months, you can save hundreds”.

You also need to be able to afford the upfront costs of accommodation and flights

Apartments are cheaper to rent and energy costs are often much lower, he adds.

The shift to flexible working introduced by the coronavirus pandemic means the idea isn’t as radical as it would have seemed a few years ago. The ability to do this obviously requires a lot of flexibility and is more likely to appeal to remote-working singles, couples, young families and retirees than those with school-age children. You also need to be able to afford the upfront costs of accommodation and flights.

However, Church is not alone in considering his options, with online searches for “moving abroad” soaring in recent months due to a worsening cost of living.

Last month the energy regulator for Britain confirmed an 80% increase in the consumer price cap from October that will bring a typical household’s gas and electricity bill to £ 3,549 per month. ‘year. The next limit, for the period January to March 2023, could still be above £ 5,000.

Electric meter

A typical energy bill will increase by 80% in October. Photograph: Paul Marriott / Rex / Shutterstock

The new limit, which takes effect on 1 October, equates to a direct debit of nearly £ 300 per month, although some will pay a lot more. Church says the bill for December alone is over £ 500.

Much will also depend on the configuration of the accommodation. You will still have to pay rent or mortgage costs during your absence, unless, for example, you are willing to give up your lease and find a new place to live when you return. That said, some people are lucky enough to have very low mortgage costs currently.

The latest research from the Hamptons International estate agent chain shows that the average rent for a one bed apartment in the UK is £ 929 per month, which is considerably higher than in London. The numbers suggest that some people could spend three months in Europe for under £ 2,000, including flights, accommodation, wifi and energy, and enjoy a lower cost of living overall.

However, the Church adds: «I want to clarify one thing. I don’t think this is a good option for anyone. Is absurd!

“We are in a terrible situation: I see in my money-saving community that people are struggling. Saving on your energy bill by starting for a few months shouldn’t be an option at all. “

Before you leave

If you decide to follow Church’s example, there are several things you need to consider when closing your house for the winter.

Let your supplier know that you are leaving and that you will not use gas or electricity for several months.

Suppliers, including British Gas and Octopus, have confirmed direct debit bills will be reduced if you tell them you’re leaving.

You will still have to pay the flat fee if there is a meter in your property, so your bills won’t drop to zero.

Inside a refrigerator with the door open

If you close your house and leave for the winter, empty the refrigerator and freezer – and defrost the latter – before turning off the appliances from the mains. Photograph: incamerastock / Alamy

Fixed daily rates for electricity and gas will be limited to 46p and 28p from October. However, these rates are “average and will vary by region, payment method and meter type”.

Empty the refrigerator and freezer – and defrost the freezer – before turning off the electrical appliances.

However, while shutting down the boiler during your absence would clearly save you money, it is a risky move during the winter that could cause problems, for example if the pipes freeze.

Most boilers can be programmed to turn on for one hour per day. E.ON recommends scheduling it between 3:00 and 4:00, which is usually the coldest time of the day.

Alternatively, you can empty the heating system and shut off the water supply.

Renting your home while you are away is one way to recoup the costs, but be sure to double check the terms of your lease if you are a tenant, as many landlords will not allow you to sublet.

If you own a home, you will need to consider the additional costs you might incur by becoming a temporary owner and enlisting someone in the area as a point of contact for your tenants while you are out of the country.

It’s also worth asking a friend or neighbor to check in to your home while you’re away, both for watering the plants and for added safety.

Also double check your insurance policy to see if it becomes void if your home is left empty for a certain number of days. You may need to purchase a top-up policy.

Accommodation

Airbnb allows guests to book stays longer than 28 days, and energy bills are usually included in the total price. But check the house rules carefully before booking as they may include extra information about your bills, for example if you will need to pay more in certain circumstances.

Contact the host to reach an agreement on the bills and make sure you have it in writing to avoid conflicts later.

Airbnb property in Spain.

Airbnb property in Spain. Photograph: Perla Requejo / Reuters

If a host tries to charge something that wasn’t included in the property description or house rules, guests can open a dispute with Airbnb.

When you book through other platforms such as Booking.com or directly with the property owner, make sure you have clarity on how you will be charged for gas and electricity.

We checked how much a three-month stay in Malaga or its surroundings in southern Spain would cost on Airbnb.

The amount you pay will depend on your needs, for example if you are happy to stay in your host’s guest room or if you prefer the entire accommodation to yourself.

When we looked, a small apartment with a terrace and sea view in Torremolinos, west of Malaga, would cost £ 2,701 for the whole trip. Meanwhile, a room in an apartment 15 minutes from the beach in Malaga would cost £ 1,476 for the entire three-month period, although you’d have to share the bathroom and kitchen with other guests.

Church found that some of the cheapest rentals were in France, but there were also interesting options a bit further afield in places like Montenegro and Romania.

Many apartments abroad offer free cancellation, so you can book now and cancel later if you change your mind.

flights

When we checked the Skyscanner flight comparison website, you could get direct round-trip flights between London and Malaga for £ 58 with Wizz Air and Vueling, departing on 1st October and returning on 31st December.

These figures do not include the cost of hold luggage, which you would presumably need for a three month stay and for which you would have to pay extra.

Double check the Covid rules in your destination before booking.

Working abroad

After Brexit, UK citizens can only stay in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for 90 days or less within a 180-day visa-free period.

This is primarily aimed at tourists, but there are some work-related allowances such as attending a business meeting or conference.

Spain is planning to introduce a visa for people who work remotely for foreign companies

Double-check the visa requirements in the country you plan to visit to avoid breaking the rules.

Spain has plans to introduce a visa for remote workers for foreign companies – sometimes known as ‘digital nomads’ – but it has not yet been introduced.

This means UK passport holders may need to apply for a visa at the Spanish consulate if they intend to work remotely for a UK company while in the country.

Sybille Steiner, labor law partner at Irwin Mitchell lawyers, says: “Individuals should not enter an EU country as tourists and then start working there, as this could violate immigration rules. The rules here will differ from country to country and I recommend that you follow local advice. “

There may also be tax implications for your employer, says Steiner.

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