7 Money-Smart Steps to Take Before Moving Abroad

If you're serious about moving overseas, there are some key financial factors that should never be ignored.

No matter where you plan on relocating, an international move will come with its own set of costs. And when investing in your future, budgeting accordingly will always be crucial.

While you’ll obviously need to save up before moving abroad, the right moves can lead to profitable perks, especially for those with a digital nomad or working visa. Or, if you plan on relocating across the pond with a retiree visa, a lower cost of living may very well be in your future. You just need to get those ducks in a row before you go.

With your future home in mind, you’ll need to build an international move budget. How much you’ll need largely depend on the economic lay of the land. So before and after you nail down your departure date, here are six money matters to always consider.

Research The Cost of Living

person's hand placed a wooden cube with word Work on wooden table. concept work from home, Planning to buy property concept ,food Clothing, housing, medicine

Per CapitalOne, the basic cost-of-living expenses include “housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and other necessities, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Cost-of-living expenses can vary from person to person because of factors like lifestyle and family size.”

It also varies based on the place you choose to live. Thanks to the world wide web, staying up to date on the cost of living all over the planet is easier than ever. When it comes to restaurants, rent, and everything in between, travel bloggers, transplants, and longtime locals alike are pretty open about what it takes to be where they want to be. You just need to do a little digging via google.

Some places have a significantly higher cost of living than others. So do your research and be prepared. If you’re moving to one of the most expensive places in existence, it will help to know what you’ll need to survive. And expand your search. Look beyond the city limits to see if living on the outskirts might be worth your time and money.

Read More: Here’s How Much it Costs to Live in the Richest Small Towns in America

Know Your Visa’s Financial Requirements

Visa form close up, fountain pen and approved stamped on a document.

What do you need to qualify for your visa? If you’re not sure, it’s time to find out. Certain countries require that you have a savings account, frequently used as verifiable “proof of funds.” Other countries only ask for proof of income. But if you are moving abroad, you will almost always be required to show you can support yourself and contribute to the economy.

Remember, the rules from one country to another will always vary. For instance, if you’re going to Canada, you’ll be required to show proof of funds for every member of your family going with you as well. So don’t make any assumptions based on what other countries require. Know exactly what is required of you financially of you, and then build your budget accordingly.

Build a Budget

Wooden house with red heart and wrench and money bag put on the old wood,

How you build your budget will come down to the lifestyle you want and what you can afford. And if you have the freedom to choose where you go, why not start by picking somewhere with a low cost of living?

Your lifestyle overseas may look a lot different than the life you are living right now. If you want something that resembles what you have at home, there will likely still be living expenses that require you to make new financial decisions. For instance, do you plan to return on holiday? How many times a year? Do your budget and see what’s possible.

You might have to live in a smaller apartment to afford visits to friends and family back in the states. But if it’s worth it to you, plan for it. There will always be trade-offs, but budget in a way that helps you live life to the fullest, with the money you have to work with.

Read More: Breaking Down The Best Budgeting Techniques

Make a Moving Cost Checklist

When you’re building your moving budget, be sure to jot down your moving costs. And consider what your first few months in a new country will look like. Will you have a job right away or will you be looking for work? Either way, saving up will provide a cushion while you settle in and start this next chapter.

Here are some costs to plan for, before and after you arrive:

  • Visa and application fees
  • Medical exams
  • Flights and other forms of transportation
  • When and how you’ll be shipping your belongings
  • Healthcare
  • Health insurance
  • Deposit for rental property
  • Rent for five months
  • Living expenses for four months
  • In case of emergency money

Prepare For Unforeseen Costs

Some moving costs are unavoidable and easy to predict. In turn, they’re the easiest to prepare for. You’ll know exactly what you’ll need for your visa fees and airline tickets, but some costs tend to be a little more up in the air.

For instance, how do you plan to move your belongings? How long will it take your items to arrive? How long will it take you to unpack them? Time is money and moving pods can be pricey, especially during an international move. For one thing, they charge by the day. And the heavier your belongings, the more that will cost as well. It’s time to decide now what might be better off left behind, with your finances in mind.

piggy bank with yellow post it that reads 'moving costs'

Also, do you have pets you can’t live without? Prepare for some lesser-known expenses and necessary steps. And don’t delay. Much like your visa, getting your pets approved for an international move can take a while.

It can take as long as six months to get a pet visa in some countries. Per Moving.com, “if you don’t start early enough, you’ll have to make arrangements for your pet to come to you at a later date; a scenario that’s likely not ideal for either of you. In addition to reading up on what requirements there are, pay close attention to the timeline of steps. You may have to do things at distinct stages.”

Learn About Defraying Your Costs

If you are moving with a job, there’s a chance your employer might cover a large portion of your international moving costs. That could help you out significantly. However, there are some costs that you will have to figure out on your own. The company you work for may help you move but use their help wisely. For instance, you should budget to put certain things in storage and only take what you can’t live without, to keep your moving costs as low as possible.

Also, stay up to date on exchange rates. There are always fluctuations. Saving a little extra money with this in mind will only work in your favor. When it comes to defraying your costs, here are some other steps worth taking, as noted by International Citizens:

  • Familiarize yourself with your financial institutions’ policies, including banks and student loan holders
  • Because money transfer methods change often, research what you need to set up new bank accounts and transfer money.
  • Talk with a tax advisor, especially if you plan to work.

You may not be able to plan for everything, but these steps can help you start to see what your life is going to look like. Taking such deliberate steps may also inspire you to save even more. Defraying costs may also afford you to make your big move from a financially stronger place, and perhaps even sooner than you first envisioned.

Set Up Your Overseas Bank Account

Many who’ve made their international move agree on one thing: you should set up your overseas bank account before you leave the United States. You might not be able to fully open the account before you leave, but by taking this step early, everything will be ready and waiting once you arrive.

Of all the needs you’ll have in your new home, an active bank account will be one of them. Considering any and all the expenses you might run into, potential delays are a financial stressor you don’t need. Start the process as soon as you can. Contact your future bank and see what paperwork they’re going to need when you get there. In some cases, you may be able to send most of the necessary documentation before you go.

Don’t Move Without an Emergency Fund

hundred dollar bills sitting in life raft

It goes without saying, we should always expect the unexpected. No matter where you plan to reside, it’s wise to prepare for costly mishaps, financial surprises, and emergencies. An emergency fund can help cover unexpected events or medical emergencies. Or you may need to fly home unexpectedly. And if you’re serious about moving abroad, the time to build all necessary forms of savings is now.

An emergency fund can also be a great source of comfort, even if you never need it for an actual emergency. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when making such a life-changing decision. When you move to a foreign country and you’re far from the life you once knew, this safety net will prove itself a worthwhile investment. And with a solid budget on your side, you can really broaden your horizons.

Read More: Build an Emergency Fund in the Quickest Way Possible

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