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The best ways to send money abroad: a quick guide

Need to send money to family or friends overseas? Have funds in foreign accounts you need to access in your new home? Sending money abroad may be cheaper and faster than you might think.

The best ways to send money abroad: a quick guide
Photo: TransferWise

As more people live their lives across borders, the need to send money abroad is greater than ever. There are plenty of reasons expats need to send money overseas, and the number of available options is on the rise as well.

Whether you’re an expat juggling funds across banks in multiple countries, or a small-business owner who needs to pay invoices to an overseas supplier, there are plenty of options for moving money abroad safely and efficiently. And many are cheaper and more-user friendly than an old-fashioned bank transfer.

Below are a few options to consider when you need to make your next international money transfer.

Xoom

Xoom is a PayPal company that allows users to transfer money abroad, reload mobile phone credit balances, and pay bills with an easy-to-use app or online interface. Xoom currently provides service in 53 countries, with manageable fees ($4.99 for using a bank account). The maximum transfer amount is $2,999. And as you can guess by its name, Xoom is fast – delivering funds quickly regardless of which option you choose.

TransferWise

TransferWise is a user-friendly peer-to-peer service that lets users transfer money abroad in 38 different currencies spanning 55 countries. Fees are minimal and always upfront, with transfers under €400 costing only €2 (larger transfers cost just 0.5 percent of the total amount transferred). TransferWise also features the true exchange rate as well as fast delivery times. The app and web interface are also well-designed and easy to use, with a handy comparison tool.

Currencies Direct

This online service is good option for anyone looking to transfer more than £100. Currencies Direct offers international money transfers in 39 currencies and doesn’t charge any fees, and there is no upper limit on how much you can transfer. Exchange rates vary with the size of the transfer – the more you transfer, the better the rate. The website is also translated into 9 languages.

CurrencyFair

Founded in 2010, CurrencyFair is a peer-to-peer currency exchange that allows you to bypass banks altogether. Besides the basic €3 transfer fee, users pay an additional fee (0.38 percent on average) based on the amount exchanged and how easily they match with another user. The service is currently available for 20 currencies.

OFX

OFX (formerly known as UKForex) allows users to make international transfers in 155 currencies. There are no fees, although there is a minimum transfer of £100. Users can make transfers online or over the phone, and with offices across the world, OFX offers 24-hour customer support. Setting up recurring transfers is a snap, and OFX also offers different hedging tools to minimize risk.

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by TransferWise

MONEY

Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

Milan is one of the most popular Italian cities for foreigners to move to, but it's also among the most expensive. We take a look at how much you'll need to live in the northern city.

Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

With its wealth of job opportunities and international appeal, Milan is one of the most popular Italian cities among foreigners.

According to the latest available data, the northern economic powerhouse is home to as many as 280,800 foreign nationals, who make up around 20.3 percent of the city’s total population.

After Rome, Milan is the second-most popular Italian destination among native English speakers, with UK and US expats leading the pack.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why Milan is a much better city to live in than Rome

But Milan’s bustling job market and cosmopolitan life come at a price, with the metropolis being recently ranked as the third-most expensive Italian city to live in. 

So, how much will you really need to be able to live in Lombardy’s capital and what are the biggest expenses for residents?

Rent

While Milan has long been known for its high rents, living in the city has become possibly even more expensive over the past year.

In the first half of 2022, the average rent in Milan rose by 11.2-percent against the same period last year, with the average monthly rent currently at 20.14 euros per square metre, the highest in the region.

The asking price can even be as high as 33 euros per square metre in the more central areas of the city (Duomo, Cadorna, Cordusio, Parco Sempione, etc.).

Two tenants in a shared flat.

Renting in Milan is generally expensive, with the average monthly rent currently sitting at 20.14 euros per square metre. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

This means renting a one-bedroom flat in the city centre will set you back 1,260 euros a month on average and, while prices generally decrease the further away from the centre, renting the same type of flat in the city outskirts will still come at an average monthly price of 830 euros.

Sadly, things aren’t much better for those looking for a single room in a shared flat as rent can be as high as 620 euros in central Milan.

To see which areas of the city are cheaper when it comes to rent, you can refer to the following online map.

Bills

In the case of most tenancy agreements in Italy, utility bills are not included in the rent. 

Though bills are naturally dependent upon a household’s individual expenditure, monthly bollette – these include gas, electricity and water bills plus waste collection fees – for an 85-square-metre flat in Milan are estimated to add up to an average of 207 euros.

READ ALSO: Lights off and home working: Milan’s new energy-saving plan for winter 

That’s 31 euros over Italy’s national average, which sits at 176 euros a month. 

Groceries

The price of groceries in Italy has increased dramatically over the past few months, triggered by record levels of inflation.

According to the latest available data, Milan is the most expensive Italian city when it comes to grocery shopping as filling a supermarket cart with basic goods is estimated to set residents back 116 euros on average (that’s a 41-euro difference compared to the cheapest city, Naples).

The average Milan family spends 441 euros a month on groceries, newspaper La Repubblica estimates.

REVEALED: Which are Italy’s best-value supermarkets? 

A list of the most cost-efficient supermarkets in Milan can be downloaded here (click on ‘Scarica lo speciale supermercati’).

Loaves of bread are pictured at an Esselunga supermarket in Milan's Famagosta district.

Milan is the most expensive Italian city when it comes to grocery shopping. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Eating out

Milan residents love to eat out, with most locals indulging in a restaurant dinner at least once a week.

As in most major cities, the size of your bill will largely depend not just on the type of restaurant you choose but also on its location. 

A three-course meal for two people in a mid-range city restaurant will set you back 80 euros on average, according to Numbeo estimates, while a regular meal in an inexpensive restaurant comes at around 20 euros apiece.

Going out, leisure and entertainment

Milan is a bustling city and, as a resident, you’ll hardly ever find yourself wanting for things to do on a weekend.

Once again, the price tag of your leisure activities will be directly dependent upon what you choose to do and where, though prices are generally in line with those of other major Italian cities. 

READ ALSO: ‘It takes time’: Foreign residents on what it’s really like to live in Milan

For instance, a regular cinema ticket costs around 10 euros, whereas renting a tennis court for one hour comes at an average price of 25 euros.

Transport

Public transport in Milan is reliable and affordable. The underground (metropolitana) is by far the fastest way to get around town, though trams and buses are also available.

A monthly urban ticket with ATM, Milan’s public transport operator, costs 39 euros, whereas an annual ticket goes for 330 euros.

A number of generous discounts are available to low-income residents, people under 30 and students.

A tram in central Milan.

Public transport in Milan is reliable and affordable, with a monthly ticket going for 39 euros. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Despite the overall reliability and breadth of Milan’s public transport network, like elsewhere in Italy most locals use their own wheels – there are nearly nine registered vehicles for every 10 residents in Milan.

Aside from non-negligible fuel-related expenses, parking in Milan is fairly expensive, with tariffs starting from 1.20 euros an hour in the outskirts but reaching 4.50 euros an hour in the city centre. 

Access to the centre (Area C) is only granted to eco-friendly vehicles and there’s a 2-euro fee for residents or a 5-euro fee for non-residents.

Find further information on traffic rules in Milan on the town hall’s official web page.

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