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How to Budget for the Costs of...


How to Budget for the Costs of an Overseas Move

How to Budget for the Costs of an Overseas Move
The Silicon Review
04 January, 2022

Whether you consider the costs of an overseas move as the sticker price to get out there, or it includes how much is needed to reestablish yourself fully in a foreign locale too, it’s a detailed topic that needs careful consideration. For this article, we examine what factors should be considered that have a bearing on the expenses when you are preparing to relocate. Additionally, we will look at expenses once you are on the ground too.  

How Many People Are Moving?

If you’re one person who is planning to relocate from Silicon Valley to a distant foreign shore, it’s not too difficult. After all, there is mainly only one person to worry about (your relatives might dispute that though). However, if you have a family, then it’s considerably more complicated. There could be two working people unless you’re both retired. What about income? Do you have new jobs lined up as expat employees? Will you sell your existing home or is it rented, and the lease is up soon?

If you have kids, what about their schooling? International schools with some native-speaking teachers don’t come cheap. They also won’t like leaving their friends behind, though online communication through video calls is much better than it once was.

Budget for the Move

There are different moving costs involved. Here are a few examples:

International Movers vs. Selling Possessions

Individuals can sell most of what they own, store the rest with friends or relatives (or use a storage facility), and get on with the move faster.

For families, they may have their whole life in the family home. If that’s your family, then there will be the temptation to use international shippers to box it up and freight it to your new destination. That can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The home may take longer to sell than you hope, tying up the capital for longer.


There are some visa-on-arrival options for many countries. However, depending on how long you wish to stay, a full visa may be needed. Visa costs vary, but usually, they’re at least $150 per person and are costlier with longer stays or multiple entry visa options.

Health Checks

A health check may be required to get approved for a visa or to be accepted either onto a flight or at immigration checkpoints. Information from the relevant embassy can confirm what the current entry requirements are.

Transportation and Flights

If you’ve sold your vehicle(s), then you’ll need to take an Uber to the airport or hire a car if it’s a greater distance. Connecting flights to reach a major international airport, the long-haul international journey, and then any connecting flights once you are in the new region may all be necessary. Even with frequent flyer miles built-up, there are other costs such as extra transport, local taxis, beverages, or meals at the airport, etc.

Renting versus Purchasing Abroad

You’ll likely rent somewhere initially upon arrival. Then once you feel more settled, you may begin the home hunt if you’re used to being a property owner. The acquisition procedure, requirements, taxes, dues, and costs of purchasing will vary from country to country. For instance, this stamp duty calculator from PropertyGuru confirms the costs when purchasing a home in Singapore. Also, they can guide you on what types of properties can be purchased, the better neighborhoods near international schools, and other important details.

Expect to Overspend Initially

Foreigners experience higher prices than locals. Furthermore, you’ll run into this issue more once you’ve arrived until you’ve learned the ropes. At that point, it’s possible to find local deals from businesspeople who appreciate your trade and don’t overcharge.

You’ll never get living costs down to what people born there will pay. There will often be extra costs tacked on. Also, your standard of living may be higher, which increases your budget there too. Fortunately, compared to back home, the average cost of living is still extremely favorable once you are settled in.

Advise Financial Institutions Before Traveling

If you start raising charges on your debit or credit card once you’re in the new country, but you’ve neglected to inform your banks, they may reject the transactions. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, inform them that you’ll be traveling abroad, and roughly how long you can expect to be out of the country. Also, include the country or countries that you plan to visit or live in. They can approve transactions for these countries while excluding approval for transactions for other ones, to prevent the risk of card fraud.

Lastly, given that the total financial cost to complete relocation is not fixed, allow for a wide margin of safety on any estimates. Sometimes, information online hasn’t been updated and prices have risen. Other times, you may just have omitted to include a few things that you ended up requiring. Plan for contingencies that you may not need. However, it’s far easier to move overseas than it was even a decade ago, so do it with confidence.