Budgeting for the Move Abroad
Getting your finances right is a critical part of making a success of your move abroad. Drawing up a budget in advance is a good way to put things in perspective and prepare for the challenges you will face. Here are some of the things you should take into account when drawing up a budget for your move abroad.
Visa ApplicationsIf you are moving to a country outside of Europe, you will face costs in applying for visas. Besides the cost of the visa application itself, you will often have to pay for medical examinations for you and the other members of your family. Sometimes, in addition to the basic medical check-up, HIV tests and chest X-rays will be required too. You won’t be able to “shop around” for these either.
Usually, the country you’re applying to will refer you to specific practitioners who’ve been specially approved for this kind of work. If you’re moving together with a whole family, you could easily be down several thousand pounds at the end of a visa application process.
Moving CostsHow much are you planning to take with you? If you’re planning a permanent relocation abroad, and take everything you own with you, the moving costs are going to be steep. There are many companies that specialise in international house removals so phone round a few of those and get some quotes.
Car AbroadMost people regard a car as de rigueur. It’s worth asking whether that’s true in the place you’re going to, though. In many parts of the continent, for example cars often aren’t as necessary as they sometimes seem to be in Britain. In Switzerland, for example, the public transport system is so good, many people just don’t bother with cars. Elsewhere on the continent there are often comprehensive bike path systems throughout whole cities, so you can go everywhere by bike. If you decide you do need a car, though, are you going to buy, rent or import your existing car from Britain? Don’t forget the special tax or registration charges that may be applied to imported cars.
Accommodation AbroadAccommodation costs are something you need to think about. Have you arranged accommodation in advance or do you plan to stay in a hotel initially and find something once you’re there? What happens if the search takes longer than expected? Don’t assume it will be easy to find a place.
Investigate the property market in your destination first to make a preliminary judgement about how difficult the search will be. Decide what monthly rental cost you can realistically afford. Compare that to the average rent in your destination. Remember that you could be asked to pay a deposit of up to three month’s rent when you actually get a place.
Jobs AbroadDo you already have a job in the country you’re going to or do you intend to start serious job-hunting once you get there? How long can you afford to maintain yourself if you can’t find work? In Europe, you should be eligible for social security payments while looking for work, but this is unlikely to be true elsewhere. Ideally, you would want to have enough savings to live for at least six months without an income from employment.
One thing to beware of is the possible need for official permission before you begin practicing your trade in the new country. Depending on what you do, it may be necessary to have your qualifications and certificates translated and approved before you can start work. Some professions may be regulated abroad even though they’re not in Britain. This may require you to apply for membership of some professional body. Or if you’re self-employed, you may need to set up a business structure before you can begin work.
Any of these requirements will take time and, quite possibly, money. You may have to pay fees to get the necessary approvals or even to hire professionals to help you navigate the bureaucracy. Bear in mind that, in some countries, bureaucracy moves even more slowly than it does in Britain. You need to factor this into your calculations about the time required before you start earning.
Living Costs AbroadTry and form an estimate in advance about living costs in the place where you’re going to live. Many charts and surveys have been done which rank living costs in cities around the world, so check out some of those to get an idea.
Taxes are something you should take into account when considering how much money you’ll have to spend. In some countries, tax may be significantly higher or lower than it is in Britain. Don’t forget to take compulsory social insurance deductions into account too when considering taxes. Again, this is something you should be able to check online. You may even be able to find country-specific tax calculators.