Are you dreaming of moving to another country but overwhelmed with how exactly to cover the costs? Don’t worry you’re not the only one. I’ve had a total of three international moves in my lifetime. All to very expensive cities that were sure to break the bank if I did not plan accordingly. I guess you can say I know a thing or two after moving to England, France and the Netherlands. Prior to my first relocation I wish I had some guidance or someone to show me the ropes. This is why I’d love to share with you my effective tips for saving money to move abroad.
Research, Research & More Research
You need to find out everything about the country and city you’re moving to. What is the cost of living, groceries, a night out on the town, etc. Typically, the higher quality of life means that things are more expensive. If you’re unsure about which destination to relocate to, I advise finding that out first because this will determine how much you need to save and bring over. Moving to someplace like Iceland will take more savings because of the high cost of living compared to a country such as Uruguay. I like to use a site called Teleport. It displays information on the best cities to live and work based on your preferences.
Set a Financial Goal
This is very important because how will you know what amount to save towards? You need a specific dollar amount and date for when you are going to have your money by. And, you must give yourself a realistic timeframe to reach this goal. How many weeks, months or years is it going to take you to get there? Remember that some of the expected costs are visas, airfare, housing, food and transport. What about insurance, exchange rates and other everyday things? It’s recommended you bring at least six months of savings to survive off. If housing is not something you’re able to organize beforehand, remember that many places may want 3x the rent+a security deposit upfront. Make sure that your financial goal is absolutely clear so you know what decisions to make on a daily basis. Making a vision board really helped me set my goals into action because I could visualize them – literally, I had photos of what I was envisioning. Overall, setting a goal won’t make you wonder how much do I need to save to move to another country.
Start a Budget and make Sure to Keep Track of Things
Take a look at how much you earn each month and list out all the expenses in a notebook. Your phone bill, credit card, student loans, car payments, gas and so on. When you see how much is being spent you can better understand what to budget and how much money to set aside. It’s important to do this because most people don’t realize how much they are spending. It’s easy to take part in ‘mindless spending’. More people are bored at home and use this opportunity to shop online. Be aware of your spending habits! Using a budgeting app is a super convenient tool to better account your expenses, manage money and help meet your financial goal. Keep track of your bills, purchases and investments! Once you know what expenses are deducted then you can allocate the rest towards your savings.
Set Money Aside ASAP
Start setting money aside as soon as possible. Everytime you receive your paycheck, take out a portion and place it into your savings account immediately. Do everything you can to put your financial goal into action. Put a jar in your room to collect the extra change and dollars you get from purchases. Remember that pennies can turn into dollars folks! A little here and a little there can really add up. These sacrifices can really pay off when you see more money in your bank account. Do everything you can and be responsible about your money. Unless you already have a job lined up in the country you’re relocating to, I’d start saving asap.
Spend Money Only on the Necessities
If you want to save money to move abroad and on a budget – eradicate all the unnecessary expenses. Be honest with yourself and assess what your essential expenses are. Think about the things you can cut out and put towards your savings. Don’t order daily morning coffees, try doing your own nails instead of getting them done every two weeks. I know this may sound like bad news for the coffeeholics but hear me out. I cut down on my $7 Starbucks order: white chocolate mocha with coconut milk and an extra shot. I’m telling you this really cut my expenses down. You can easily spend 20-30 dollar on Starbucks a week which is $100 for the month. If it’s not coffee or heading to the nail salon ask yourself if you really need three streaming services? These ‘little’ things can add up so avoid the unnecessary spending and the next you know you’re saving and extra $300 per month.
Refrain From Eating Out
Stop ordering out. Not only is this much healthier for your body but this can really be a saving grace on your wallet. I used to order food for lunch and the weekly total would be $50. Can you believe that’s $200 per month just for buying lunch alone! Eating out/take out really adds up. The easiest way to save money to move abroad is to cook from home and meal prep. Meal prepping is also a great time saver when you’re in a rush. I would spend a Sunday afternoon making meals for the rest of the week, this way I don’t feel tempted to order out. If you have a long enough lunch break and male prepping is not your thing, go home and make lunch instead. Another great tip to refrain from eating out is do your groceries at the market. The quality is much better and the cost is half of what I would usually pay at a major grocery store. I cut down eating meat and started eating vegetarian and plant based meals. As a result, my grocery bills lessened and my body felt more energetic. Refraining from eating out is one of the best ways to save money to move abroad.
Live At Home if Possible
If you’re fortunate enough to move back home with your parents or relatives for little to no rent, I highly recommend doing so. Not having rent, insurance and utilities to pay allows you to save some cash and add to your savings. Rent is usually the biggest expense and this way you can build up your stash. Living at home is pretty common these days and if you have the opportunity, consider it. If the idea of returning back home as an adult is concerning then you’re going to need to adjust your mindset and look at the bigger picture here. You can potentially save thousands of dollars and I say this from my own experience. How do you think I paid for most of my master’s studies in Paris?
Limit the Times you Go out or Come up with an Alternative
I love going out to meet a friend and have a drink just like the next person. However, this can become quite pricey especially if you make it a weekly occurrence. Instead of heading to the bar, invite your friend over and make your own cocktails. Miss having dinner at your favorite restaurant? Make a special meal and host an outdoor picnic with a friend. These are great and creative alternatives that will not break the bank and help you you save money to move abroad.
Sell Your Possessions
You can’t take all your belongings with you when moving overseas. Does it make sense to bring your furniture or tv in a suitcase? Extra luggage and international shipping fees are very expensive. Instead, make a list of what you need and sell the rest. Holding a garage sale is a great way to make some extra money while getting rid of your belongings. You can also sell your possessions on online marketplaces like Facebook, Ebay or Craigslist. Before moving to the Netherlands I ended up selling my unused textbooks to a book site. Even though it was a small amount, remember that every penny can count and make a difference in your wallet.
The reality is that you don’t need to bring all your items with you. If it’s hard for you to let go or there is too much sentimental value, keep it in storage. Honestly, with each international move I became more of a minimalist because you come to realize that some things are unnecessary. Minimize the things you bring in your suitcases and put money into your bank while doing so. You can truly save money to move abroad this way!
Think about Transferring Money When Moving Abroad
There’s no doubt you’ll need to move money to and from your accounts. The problem with this is that international money transfers can get costly. When I lived in London and transferred my dollars to pounds I would silently cry inside. I was desperate to find a solution and came across an app called Transferwise. It’s the best way to make low cost, transparent transfers and make the most of your hard earned money. Most banks offer this exchange but for a hefty and hidden price. Whenever I need to transfer money from my American bank to my international one, Transferwise is always my go to. They also have a large range of currencies to send and receive your money in – 50 to be exact.
Purchase your Flight Ahead of Time
Flights are one of the big ticket items you will have. That’s why it’s practical to buy it in advance. I suggest around 6 months or earlier. Some airlines have a time restriction, so for instance up to 300 days is the earliest you can make a reservation. If you plan to leave the country during the holidays or a peak season, that’s even more reason to plan ahead. Also consider the costs of flights to and from your destination in case you want to fly out a few times or visit home? Knowing ahead of time can help you better budget.
Find a job abroad or apply in advance
This tip may sound pretty self explanatory but attaining a job can ease your worries about money. Any move comes with costs, especially an international one. By having a job in tow you have an income to support you and offsets your expenses for relocating. It’s also convenient because you don’t need to worry about costs such as visas and other paperwork. Paying this out of pocket can add depending on the country.
Get into the Right Mindset
Whether it’s saving to move abroad or for a new car, you need to implement habits and practices to help stay positive on this journey. Some advice that has helped me on my saving journey is to not compare yourself to others and their finances. Perhaps you know someone living their life in Japan spending freely as they want. This can be discouraging and divert you from your goal in sight. So just stay in your lane and focus on yourself. Remember to extend yourself grace during this period of time. Saving towards your goal means making sacrifices. If you stumble along the way, pick yourself up and most importantly, be kind to yourself.