Moving overseas is a long-held dream of millions of people. Whether they are living in the States, the UK, or possibly in Europe, it may deliver cost benefits versus continuing to deal with higher inflation back home. What is involved with moving overseas, is it hard to do, and is it affordable if you wish to settle long-term? Let’s find out.
Do Your Research Online
Research as many aspects as you can before planning in earnest. Learn about different countries and once you’ve narrowed down your chosen country, plan for which city you’ll live in. Staying in one city as opposed to city-hopping over a year will be more affordable.
Try to find local information, rather than tourist-oriented data. For instance, local restaurants may have a website or a Facebook page with their recent menu. This will give you a better idea of dining costs for two people.
Search for YouTubers who have visited the city/county before and vlogged about it recently. This can provide an insight into how the place looks or what hurdles they had to overcome.
Visit the Country Beforehand If You Can
Wherever possible, take a vacation out to the country that you’re interested in. If you’re unclear what cities or towns will appeal most to you, visiting them personally will be clarifying.
Much of the information online for foreigners is aimed at tourists. Look instead on expat websites including message forums to get a clearer idea about the unique challenges. Check for useful message threads similar to: “What I wish I knew before I arrived.”
If you cannot visit and are planning to move and make the best of it, at least look at copious YouTube videos from travel vloggers, digital nomads, and expats who have moved there.
Assess What It’ll Cost to Move and Live There
Understanding the true cost of living in a foreign country is not the easiest thing in the world. The reality is that if you ask three people what the typical cost of living is, you’ll get three hugely different responses back from expats. Why is that? Because everyone has a unique perspective on how much money is enough to live comfortably.
Some of the costs online are also skewed higher for people who won’t look upon arrival and expect to find everything online. Therefore, the more expensive restaurants will have websites whereas perhaps the more affordable, but perfectly acceptable eatery won’t. As such, prices can be incorrect when you don’t compare different sources.
For housing, that’ll be one of the costlier expenses. If you plan to purchase a home, then you’ll need to understand the cost to borrow. For example, in the Asian island nation of Singapore, using this mortgage Singapore calculator from PropertyGuru, a leading realtor for the island, can provide comparisons on mortgage costs for different types of loans.
Will You Require a Visa or a Medical Exam?
It’s not possible to freely travel around without ever needing to worry about getting a visa. This is a dream from the movies but isn’t a real thing. Instead, it’ll be necessary to research what types of visa(s) that you (and your family if you have one) will qualify for. It may be different for different members of the family too. There are some visa-on-arrival schemes available for short visits. These are sometimes, but not always, extendible. Otherwise, a visa will be required before arrival.
Visa costs are not inconsiderable. They’re an additional expense including initial application, renewal, and any requirement to periodically transit out of the country and back again. These so-called visa runs are required on some visas, increasing the costs to move and stay.
Increasingly, a medical health check and either travel or health insurance will be required. Some countries require insurance issued within their country too. Travel insurance is purchased from your home nation covering a short visit or a multi-trip package for up to a year. Repatriation and some reimbursements of medical costs are typically included. Expat health insurance is far more expensive and is intended for people living abroad for long durations.
Ensure You’re Backed Financially
Ensure you’re financially backed, so you don’t end up possibly backed into a financial corner. While you may get hooked into a local expat group, they’ll have their own issues to deal with. It isn’t like being surrounded by family who maybe can help you out; it’s easier to decline distant requests for help, especially if there’s a tinge of envy.
Therefore, do have enough funds behind you in savings to afford the cost of living and any surprises that arise. For instance, rentals may require proof of funds. If you don’t have a previous landlord in the new country or city, they may wish to charge a larger security deposit than expected. Also, think about how you will prove your income when abroad. Some countries want to see pension income if you are arriving as a retiree. Even if you live relatively frugally back home, the income requirements to qualify for certain visas may surprise you.
Moving abroad can be affordable. It depends if you’re going to live “like a local,” as an expat living comfortably, or you wish to upgrade your lifestyle abroad. Other things like eating the cuisine versus requiring Western food or purchasing imported treats from back home add up quickly. Also, if you insist on shipping your possessions out there rather than selling them off pre-move, that adds considerable extra costs.
Ultimately, how affordable it is to move and live abroad depends largely on you.