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Money & Sense: Create Your Moving Abroad Budget Blueprint

Moving abroad is a financial undertaking and requires a budget. If you prepare ahead of time, you have a better chance of everything going smoothly. Whether you’re moving overseas for work, family, adventure or more, you need to figure out what the costs will be so you can reduce some of the stress that comes with crossing borders.

Budgeting is an important part of your expat planning

Irrespective of what type of expat you will be, budgeting is one of the most essential activities that you can do in preparation. Moving to another country is often expensive, and budgeting allows you to see where you’re at financially, as well as prepare for the expenses you’ll need to undertake during your move.A budget is an important tool in helping you plan your finances, save money and ensure that your move abroad goes smoothly.

There are two key reasons why budgets are needed to help manage money, especially when moving to a different country.  First, knowing your expenses can help deermine if there is enough leftover to save or invest in other areas of your life. Secondly, a budget will inform you if there are areas where you can reduce your spending without having to sacrifice something important to your lifestyle or well-being. For instance, you might decide that public transportation is a better option instead car ownership because of the cost savings.  Budgeting will put you on a path to  financial freedom so you can plan for both the planned and the unexpected.

Key parts of your budget plan

There are a few things that you should absolutely keep in mind when moving to a different country, either solo or with your family.

Sources of Income:  Depending on your employment situation, there are a few things you should consider:

If you are moving to a location for a job, you need to make sure you ask the right questions about the compensation and benefits, before you sign the contract.  Everything from the currency you will be paid in (if it’s a multinational company) to finding out if a housing allowance  is included in the benefits package needs to be on the discussion table. 

 If you plan on finding a job while abroad, you need to understand the job market and the average salary for that job. If there are more jobs than qualified applicants, especially in a specialized field, the salary might be higher. If the opposite is true, you may want to negotiate for a higher starting salary or try for a position that has room for advancement.

 If you are planning on being a digital nomad or freelancer, you will need to review your past revenue and income to gauge how much money you will have at your disposal.

Health insurance

Health insurance is a must if you’re planning on moving abroad. You should be covered for emergency situations, as well as ongoing health issues. You need to factor in the type of insurance you might need and make sure you have coverage in the country and any other places where you might plan to travel during your time abroad.


Many people are surprised to learn that there are significant differences between the tax rates in different countries.

In some places, you may pay more than half your income in taxes. In others, you may have lower income tax rates but higher costs for things like food and health care. It’s important to research the cost of living in each country that you’re considering so that you can make an informed decision about where to move.

Banking and money transfer

This will be dependent on the country you are moving to, but it’s worth checking out what banks offer services in that area. It’s also important to look at how easy they make it for you to transfer money abroad and if they allow international payments.

Some banks have a minimum amount of money that needs to be transferred before they allow an international payment. Once you have found a suitable bank, open an account with them. If possible, set up standing orders so that regular payments such as rent or phone bills can be paid without hassle when moving abroad.


Black hands using a calculator and a laptop
Image: iStock

Design your moving abroad budget

Follow these steps to design your ideal expat budget.

Create a budget before you leave: The first step to building a budget is to start early, before you even think about moving. You want to get into the habit of tracking your spending so that when it comes time to move abroad, you’ve already got some experience in managing your money and know what expenses might arise during this transition.

It’s important that you track your spending habits so that you know where all your money goes. This will give you a full picture of your finances and help you to decide how much money you need to save before taking off overseas. There are plenty of great budgeting tools out there for beginners. Find one that works for you.

Figure out how much you need: Now that you have a general idea of how much money you’ll need for your move, it’s time to get specific. The first step is figuring out exactly how much you’ll need each month.

Next, make sure that number is realistic. If you’re moving abroad with a spouse or partner and children (or pets), then there are additional expenses—like childcare and school fees—that will come into play.

There’s no way to know exactly how much it will cost to move abroad until after you head out the door. You need to budget as best as possible so that if things get more expensive than expected, there is some extra room in your budget for the unforeseen expenses.

Make sure you have an emergency fund: You may also want to consider setting aside some money for emergencies. What if something goes wrong on the day of departure? Or perhaps someone gets sick during an extended stay at a friend’s house while traveling between countries? These are all potential costs that could arise during an international move; setting aside funds can help alleviate stress in these situations by providing access to cash when needed most. Emergency funds generally contain three months worth of living expenses.

Think about what else to include in your budget: As you take the steps to move abroad, be sure to think about what else might be included in your budget. Moving expenses will include things like packing supplies, shipping fees, and any fees associated with changing your address.

Transportation costs can vary depending on whether you’re moving yourself or having someone else do it for you; rental costs are also dependent on where in the world you end up living.

Always keep track of everything as best as possible—we know this is easier said than done when there are so many other things going on during a move—but at least try to have some idea of what costs might pop up along the way.

A Final Word

Moving abroad can be a big financial decision, but you can make it a little less stressful by planning ahead and having a budget in place.

It’s not always easy to predict what expenses will come up when moving abroad (especially if this is your first time), but it helps to know what they might be so that when they do pop up, you won’t feel overwhelmed or unprepared.

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