An Expat guide on how to save money abroad
Living overseas can change your life. A new country is a chance to discover and explore new things you couldn’t have done if you’d stayed at home. However, actually moving and settling in can be daunting – and sometimes expensive. Our pointers on how to save money abroad are aimed at smoothing out the process, making sure you can pay the bills and even have money left over.
Saving money will decrease some of the stress that can come with relocating. It’ll also allow you more financial freedom to enjoy the opportunities that come with being an expat. Really want to go to that festival? Try that weird local dish? Take language lessons? These tips will help.
Knowing what to bring with you can make a huge difference. In some countries it might be worth bringing across furniture because it can be expensive to buy. In other cases, the cost of buying new or second-hand furniture is more affordable than shipping. Electronic items and clothing are also items you may be able to save on.
There are also plenty of savings to be found in the packing and relocation process. Check out some of our top packing tips and our expat guide for ideas.
Manage your overseas accounts
Banks have lots of little fees hiding in the margins. A big one is fees for overseas transactions. If you need to contact your bank while overseas, that can be an additional cost (and stress).
Before you leave your country, go into a branch of your bank. Outline your plans, and they’ll be able to advise you for the best way to manage your accounts while overseas. They may also have extra advice or services – like cheap currency exchange, travel cards, or partner banks.
Secure a job
Ok, this sounds obvious. But a little background research before you set off can go a long way. The sooner you have a job, the less you have to worry about money.
Find out how your skillset matches the needs of the country you’re moving too. Hong Kong, for example, has an international talent list. People with the skills on this list will find it much easier to get a job (and a visa). You can also contact recruitment agencies with your CV. If they can’t find you something before you arrive, you’ll be on their books and ready to start once you’re there.
If you can get a job before you go, your employer may also pay for some of your visa costs. They may even contribute to other relocation costs.
Get tips and advice from those in the know
If you’re looking to save money abroad, find the people who’ve already done it. The first point of call is any friends or family who have moved abroad before – especially if they’ve moved to the country you’re heading to. Draw on all your social networks. Don’t be afraid to broadcast on social media!
Employers and colleagues are also a great source of information. Often they’ll be happy to help you find your feet, cost-saving tips included. In many cases employers will have existing relationships or deals with companies. Check out your employment package and take full advantage.
Another great source of inspiration and advice is expat communities. A simple search in Google will probably turn up some online forums or social media groups. Some of these may also meet up in person. These can be a great chance to make new friends as well as get cost-saving tips.
Some areas you may be able to get great cost-saving advice include: housing, healthcare, schooling, transport, living costs, and food.
Be flexible with your accommodation
If you have some wiggle-room with where you’ll live, you can probably find a good deal on accommodation. Some locations and building types will be cheaper than others. Background research can shed some light on what will work best for your situation. If you contact a rental agency or landlord before moving, they may be willing to provide cheaper rates or discounts if you sign an advance agreement.
If you don’t want to plan too far ahead, consider a serviced apartment when you first arrive. These are often a great option when you first arrive. They’re fully-furnished and ready to move into. This can allow you to scope the city at your leisure, looking for the perfect place at the best price. It also gives you time to research other household or living costs – like utilities, council fees, and transportation.
Turn to tech
There are some great finance apps out there. If you struggle with saving, sticking to a budget, or just tracking what you spend, an app could be just what you need. Right there on your phone, they’re just a click away if you need some advice. This also make it a lot easier to stick to your goals.
Have a browse through the best financial applications to find something to suit you.
Whatever it is, research and look at your options before buying. Whether its finding the best price for a bed or the cheapest supermarket, don’t be afraid to compare prices. You may have known all the cost-cutting corners in your home country. Now it’s time to start learning a new set!