Moving abroad is a stressful undertaking. You have to get used to a new culture, maybe even a new language. But the most anxiety-inducing part of it is the money. Even if you’re moving to a country with a weaker currency and cheaper cost of living, you will still have to have some savings in the bank to make it happen. After all, you’re setting up your life all over again.
Financial problems sometimes cause expats to return prematurely. But this does not have to be the case. There are certain ways to save money when moving abroad, which will make the transition more likely to succeed.
Ship your baggage
It’s tempting to air-freight your property across the world. No one likes waiting months for their possessions to arrive. But shipping is the much cheaper option, and will free up money that you’ll need when you arrive.
There are some tips to making the most of the months your property will spend at sea. Send the clothing you’re not currently wearing in advance. If it’s summer, ship your winter clothing and vice versa.
Sell your junk
Okay, maybe it’s not junk. You might have some beautiful decorative pieces in your house, and some stuff that is sure to come in handy one day. But it’s stuff you either won’t need abroad, or won’t have space for. If you’re moving from a 3 bedroom house into a 1 bedroom flat, for example, you’re going to have to leave stuff behind. And then there are the things that are just not practical to ship.
Selling this stuff will lighten your baggage and it can make you a lot of money. You might be surprised at the amount of things you have that you just don’t need. Even if you’re not a hoarder, you accumulate plenty of stuff over the years.
Use foreign exchange services rather than banks
This is quite important to know. Most of us trust our banks more than we would any other institution. Unfortunately, they’re not there just to help us. They exist to make money, and that sometimes means they take advantage of us.
Foreign exchange is a particularly frustrating case. Banks have huge fees just for converting currency, and moving it to a foreign account. They are also notorious for hiding fees in the exchange rate they offer. Compare their “competitive rates” to what you find on Google. The results are not pretty.
This is why there has been such a huge boom in foreign exchange firms over the past couple of decades. These firms provide currency exchange for extremely low fees, and you’ll usually get the mid-market rate which Google shows. They also provide practical support with transfers and documentation, which is a huge burden off your shoulders.
Rent a furnished property
No one wants to have someone else’s furniture in their home. However, renting a furnished property will save you tons of money on either buying new furniture, or shipping it from home. The rent will be a bit more expensive, but that won’t come close to negating the savings.
See an accountant before you leave
Don’t underestimate the costs of taxes and bureaucratic processes. Switching to a new financial system is extremely difficult. Fees and services you take for granted might be totally different somewhere else. Taxes might be much higher, and apply to income you’re not used to being taxed on. There are tools and resources such as tax bracket calculators, currency conversion charts, and so much more that can give you a better perspective on the financial side of things.
Unless you’re an expert, you won’t be able to take everything into account on your own. See an accountant who specialises in immigration. Just the stress relief is worth the extra money, and chances are, you’ll save on expenses you would have otherwise incurred.