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A new poll conducted by visa application help website IXPVisas.com has revealed the most expensive countries for expats to live compared to the UK. Japan comes top with 72% of expats saying that the cost of living in the Land of the Rising Sun was ‘higher’ or ‘much higher’ than the UK.

Other countries that made the list include France, Switzerland and Hong Kong. As many people who have travelled to Tokyo or Paris will confirm, although some items such as electronics and clothes are cheaper than in the UK, the cost of living, especially food and drink is often more expensive.

Here are the top ten most expensive countries for expats to live:

1.    Japan
2.    Switzerland
3.    Norway
4.    Singapore
5.    Hong Kong
6.    Australia
7.    France
8.    Angola
9.    Russia
10.    Brazil

The study also asked expats ‘Do you find yourself financially comfortable in your life abroad?’ 31% said yes, 46% said that they were reasonably comfortable and 23% said that they were struggling financially.

Although 23% of expats said that they were struggling financially, they also felt that it was expensive everywhere and that the prices were relative to circumstances.

Do you live abroad? Tell us your reaction to the poll and any experiences that you have about living abroad.

Tokyo Skyline

Tokyo, voted most expensive place to live by expats

Picture: Timo Nurmi


Iran is a country of contrasts, made up of a natural landscape of dense rainforest along the Caspian coast and the north where temperatures rarely fall below freezing, towards the east of the country the landscape emerges into desert basins and salt lakes. Iran is also one of the world’s most mountainous countries, its landscape dominated by rugged mountain ranges. Across Iran’s vast countryside you will discover a varied amount of wildlife from bears, gazelles and wild pigs, to wolves, jackals, panthers, Eurasian lynx, and foxes. There is also a lot of culture to discovery in this country once known more as a warring country some of which can be discovered in places like Tehran, Mashhad Isfahan and Shiraz.

Khezr Beach, Hormoz Island, Persian Gulf

Khezr Beach, Hormoz Island, Persian Gulf

Picture courtesy of Hamed Saber

A sprawling city at the foot of the Tochal mountain range Tehran is the largest city and capital of Iran, it has long but somewhat unknown history dating back to the 9th century. The is still a lot of history to be seen however a lot of the older more traditional buildings were torn down in the 1950’s to make way for more modern buildings and architecture. Tehran is a city of contrasts and can been seen across the city, there is a divide between the north and the south with a split of modern and rich to traditional and poor, religious and secular. The north of the city seems most modernised and affluent with most hot spots to be here.

Tehran

Tehran

Picture courtesy of Ensie & Matthias

Shiraz has been Iran’s regional trade centre for more than one thousand years and is located in the southwest of Iran on the Rudkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river, known as the city of poets, wine and flowers is a city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city. A popular destination to experience some of Iran’s great culture has a lot of history to explore like the tombs of Hafez, Saadi, and Khaju e Kermani which are enclosed in a mountain above the cities old quarter.

If you wish to explore the history and culture and enjoy the natural beauty of Iran you can book a flight to Tehran or Shiraz or any of Iran’s other major cities for an interesting break away.

Shiraz botanical garden

Shiraz botanical garden

Picture courtesy of indigoprime


The Celebrity Equinox cruise ship is a top class vessel that has a lot of traditional English charm, its main feature is its bowling green which is nearly two-and-a-half times the size of Wimbledon’s Centre Court which is a great to play on with beautiful beaches of the Caribbean as a backdrop. The ship also is not short of onboard indulgences cabins that can rival 5* hotels as well as other classes available such as  Concierge Class (daily canapés, personal concierge) and Aqua Class (use of the spa Relaxation Room, Persian Garden and the ‘clean cuisine’ Blu restaurant), which make for a very luxurious cruise holiday.

Equinox Bowling Green

Equinox Bowling Green

Picture courtesy of Tomas Mascardo

Dining on the Equinox is also 5* with The Silhouette Dining Room is your cruise ship’s main restaurant serving delicious World and Continental cuisine, with a superb choice of fine wines to complement every course or the Tuscan Grille where you can enjoy succulent steaks. If more classic European-style dishes is more your taste you can visit Murano or you can have a taste of the Orient and sample delights of Asian cuisine at Silk Harvest. However not everyone wants formal dining every night so you can go casual and have an al fresco meal at the Mast Grill or head off to the Oceanview Cafe for great food and fabulous sea views.

Equinox Show

Equinox Show

Picture courtesy of jthetzel

There is also a lot to do on an evening after you have enjoyed a lovely meal you have a choice of 12 bars like the Martin Bar which has a special exclusive area called crush where you can enjoy caviar and vodka on ice. There are also many Vegas style shows going on at the Equinox Theatre where you can enjoy wonderful musical performances and rib-tickling comedy, or as on many other cruise ships place some bets at the Fortunes Casino. You can also dance the night away at Quasar, an ultra-cool night-club with a unique retro style.
The Celebrity Equinox cruises around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean as well as across the Atlantic, you can easily find great cruise deals for the Celebrity Equinox to any of the destinations.

Celebrity Equinox

Celebrity Equinox

Picture courtesy of jthetzel


After surviving a decade and a half of conflict, Beirut has undertaken a huge reconstruction project and is on the way to creating a new commercial and residential district for the 21st century with improved banking, construction, import-export and service industries. It’s now also easy to get to Beirut thanks to their newly renovated Rafic Hariri International Airport which has transport links to the city by service cab or taxi cab.

The city that has been continuously inhabited for millennia and has so much ancient history to explore because Beirut stands on the site of a very ancient settlement going back at least 5,000 years. Until recently many archaeological remains have been left undiscovered, after the conflict ended in 1991 many archaeological investigations have taken place with many Roman and Medieval artefacts discovered. Visiting sites such as the Group of five columns part of the Roman settlement you can learn much about the cities varied history as well as enjoying the splendour of the Roman Exedra, Roman baths and many the floor mosaics. Beirut also has a wide range of culture to explore and you will find many local art exhibitions and shows featuring local artists, you can also pick up lots of local traditional crafts, fashion and jewellery on many local markets.

Named one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet, Beirut has plenty to offer for evening entertainment with its night life districts which have many bars, pubs and clubs and a large selection of local restaurants specialising in Lebanese food as well as western restaurants.

Beirut is an ideal city to visit with a culture including Greeks, Romans and Arabs and its also very easy to get to with flights to Beirut going from all major UK airports.

Corniche West Beirut

Corniche West Beirut

Picture courtesy of austinevan


A cruise holiday on the Nile has a very old romantic touch it gives you a feeling of old world charm with pre-dinner cocktails and conversation and a dark-paneled saloon with heavy furniture and overstuffed chairs and women in glorious ball gowns. Here you can explore the many mysteries of the east in a luxurious cruise ship setting along the magnificent and historic River Nile, travelling at an easy pace enabling you to enjoy much of Egypt’s natural scenery and learning along the way the ancient history when visiting the tombs and temples at Aswan and Luxor.

You do not need to break the bank to experience the luxury of a cruise on the Nile as there are many cruise deals to Egypt, so you can experience the best of the country and visit some of the wonders of the world. The Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx, such wonders which you can explore during organised excursions as well as the southern city of Luxor is home to the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings.

Egypt is also a great holiday destination for those wishing for some sun, with temperature ranging from 21C in the winter to 43C in the summer and it is also generally rain free and you can also get great cruise deals to Egypt.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

Picture courtesy of Mossaiq


It would be fair to say that the coast of Alaska will be a cruise destination like no other. This captivating and unspoilt corner of the North American continent is famed for its stunning landscape and will be an ideal option for anyone looking to combine exhilarating adventures with their cruise holiday. The opportunities to discover nature and wildlife in Alaska cannot be found anywhere else.

Cruise and stay holidays are becoming increasingly popular for newcomers to cruises and there is a range of exciting stopovers along the way. Petersburg is one example and is renowned for its idyllic scenery and Norwegian-influenced architecture. Elsewhere, the blissful town of Haines will be an ideal place to take in the sights at a relaxing pace and its boat trips along the river are highly sought after.

Nearly all cruise companies that have routes in Alaska organise excursions deep into the countryside. The powerful rivers and thick forests are great places for adventure and you can often see Alaskan bears in their natural habitat. Water sports, such as white-water rafting, canoeing and kayaking are other options on the itinerary.
Many Alaskan cruises take in major ports along the West Coast of Canada and the US, including Seattle and Vancouver. Both these city’s airports cater for international flights and are the recommended destinations for the first part of your trip.

As always, last minute cruise deals can be found for Alaska and certain times of the year will feature discounted travel options.

Alaska

Alaska

Picture courtesy of  jimg944


Riyadh, which in Arabic means the Gardens, is the Capital of Saudi Arabia, as well as the largest city there and is situated in the centre of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau. Described as a ‘true oasis in the desert’ Riyadh is full of culture, history, beautiful architecture and an exotic feel of opulence that enchants any visitor. It is also easy and economic to get to with cheap flights to Riyadh departing from most UK airports.

Riyadh has the best of both worlds for any visitor, for tourists it has retained its ancient heritage and sight-seeing opportunities and for business travellers there many modern amenities which this city has to offer. With skyscrapers towering above the desert Riyadh is one of the most affluent cities in Saudi Arabia with amazing shopping opportunities in the Kingdom Centre, which has a state-of-the art three-level shopping mall with more than 160 stores and many other things. As well as glitzy shopping you can still find more traditional shopping experiences with little markets nestled down side streets selling a wide range of local produce and individual handmade gifts. As with other Saudi Arabian cities fast food is very popular with many western fast food chains in the city, however there are many small local restaurants where you can sample native food.

The best time to visit is the late winter to spring when there is little to no rain and the average temperatures are still warm and the city is known for its evening thunderstorms that cool the city down in time for the night to come to life. The city is also run on a strictly Islamic moral and cultural code, and visitors should respect the rules while exploring the sights, both ancient and modern, as women have restricted access to certain attractions and sites.

Kingdom Tower

Kingdom Tower

Picture courtesy of Alan Light


After the recent threat of strike action from BA cabin crew which was halted by the high court everyone who had travel plans breathed a sigh of relief, however many people are still wondering what to do if your flight is cancelled.

Under EU regulations, if your flight is cancelled within seven days of departure you are entitled to a full refund of any part of your ticket that is unused. You are also covered under The Denied Boarding Regulation if your flight is overbooked and you are unable to board, however it does depend on certain criteria such as having have a confirmed booking, whether you checked in on time (or if no check-in time was given, then at least 45 minutes before your flight was scheduled to depart.) and also if you are departing from an EU airport, or from a non-EU airport and flying into an EU airport on a ‘community carrier’ which is  an airline with its headquarters and main place of business within the EU. That includes all European discount and ‘no-frills’ airlines.

If you flight is delayed, during this time you should be given two free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay, free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required and if the delay lasts for five hours or more, you can choose not to travel and get a refund of your ticket cost.

You are not covered under the Regulation if a cancellation or delay causes you miss your connecting flight, incur more travel costs or missed holiday days, but you may be able to claim under the Montreal Convention. When a flight is cancelled, an airline is contractually obliged to provide alternative transportation (not necessarily by air) or a refund.  But most airlines’ conditions of carriage specifically exclude liability for any consequential losses. Technically, it should be possible to argue that a cancellation is the same as a delay for the purposes of making a claim under the Montreal Convention (because of the Convention simply refers to “delay in the transportation by air” and a passenger can be delayed as a result of cancellation).  But in practice, the two are generally taken to be different.


The cold weather has set in, the nights are dark and chilly you feel like you need an injection of light into your life to keep you going, below are places where you might just find the right antidote.

Fumba, Zanzibar
The best time to visit is between December and February you will miss the northeast monsoon on the southwest coast of Zanzibar. The golden Shiri beach is fringed with mangrove and looks out onto the turquoise blue ocean on the beach you will be privy to some awesome sunsets as you relax drink in hand, in this secluded spot. If you don’t want to spend all your time soaking up the sun there are plenty of other activities to partake in like a picnic to Komonda Island where you can also snorkel on one of the largest reefs in Menia Bay, or fishing and snorkelling excursions and you can also rent kayaks and windsurfers.

Manafaru, Maldives
There are plenty of Maldivian style villas that stretch out into the lagoon that are perched over the water on one of many private Haa Alif Atoll islands, here you will find sheer luxury at its finest you will feel like you are in heaven. The northern-most natural atoll of the Maldives offers plenty of natural beauty as well as glorious sunshine to take in. This secluded island offers the perfect escape.

St Barts
This is the most chic Caribbean island and a favourite haunt of the rich and famous. There are 14 beaches on St Barts all blessed with gleaming white sand and very few of them attract crowds of people so you won’t struggle to find a secluded spot. St Barts also offers a glittering nightlife with restaurants and bars and sometimes on a night you will get live music or an outdoor movie.

Maldives

Maldives

Picture courtesy of muha…