Posted by Matthew Andrews on October 24th, 2016.
If you’re taking the plunge and moving abroad you’ve probably spent months planning and budgeting for your move. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans may not take into account some of the unexpected costs that can crop up when moving overseas.
For instance, did you know that when renting in Japan some rental agreements require you to pay ‘Reikin’ (gratitude money)? This is essentially a gift to your landlord and can cost between one and three months’ rent.
While this guide will not help you with all the little hidden costs of each and every country, it should provide you with a general checklist of things to keep an eye on.
Let’s start with the absolute basics here. While you’ve probably started thinking about the costs involved in shipping your items overseas, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
One cost which is easy to ignore is the price of packaging materials. If you want your belongings to survive the trip overseas you’re likely to need a little more than a few cardboard boxes from the local supermarket!
It’s also important to know when your belongings will be arriving in your country of choice. If they arrive before you get residency, you could be stung by import tax/custom duties which can quickly add up. So try and make sure you have your residency permit before you need to collect your items.
Another basic one here but it can be easy to forget the actual costs of traveling to your new home amongst all the chaos of preparing for the move. If you are flying then you may need to pay for additional baggage costs as you will likely be taking more clothes than your average holiday maker.
You may also want to check the expiry date on your passport. At £72.50 for adults and £46 for a child it may cost over £200 for a family of four to renew their passports. Keep in mind that should you need to renew it while abroad it will generally cost around 20% extra.
An important part of moving to another country is making sure you integrate with the community, which may mean learning a new language if you’ve moved to a place where English isn’t the mother tongue.
This can cost anywhere between £30-£300 for a reputable computer program/online course if you wish to go the self-study route, while choosing a more comprehensive ESL course can cost significantly more.
Many countries will require you to register with a local immigration office or with the federal police and may require fingerprints and passport photos in order for you to be issued with a national ID card. You will generally be required to pay to have your ID card issued and this price can vary greatly from country to country.
Those importing a car will often need to acquire an import permit and register the car with the local authorities, and you may need to obtain a local drivers license after a number of months – again this will be entirely at your own expense.
Unless you send your children to a private school you probably take for granted that compulsory education is free in the UK, however in many countries even basic education can cost you thousands of Pounds a year. For instance in the United Arab Emirates a year’s education can cost upwards of £10,000 a year.
Alternatively you may find that you have to send your children to a costly international school as state schools are unable to provide a suitable education either due to the language barrier or a wildly different syllabus.
Family pets can also prove costly to move abroad as you’ll generally be required to get a number of vaccinations and a health certificate from your local vet. This certificate may need to be taken to a consulate to be checked and translated at your expense.
If you don’t already own one you will need to purchase a suitable kennel/container for your animal and pay for additional baggage on a plane if it is too large for the cabin. Finally there is the potential quarantine process once you arrive in the country, which can be a long and costly.
Something many expats forget to factor in when moving abroad is the cost of travelling back home again. Whether it’s just to visit loved ones, for business or a family event, it is highly likely that you will need to make a number of trips home over the years.
Depending on the distance, this can become extremely expensive – especially if there is more than one person making the trip. For example, a £500 round trip per person from Hong Kong to the UK every Christmas can quickly become cost prohibitive.
Furthermore you will need to make sure that your visits do not exceed 183 days in a single period or 91 days a year over four years or you will be liable to pay UK tax as well.
If you plan to return to the UK later in your life you may also find that your pension isn’t worth as much as you had hoped. The value of your pension is frozen if you move outside of the European Union, although following the UK’s vote to leave the EU it is uncertain if this will soon be applicable to EU countries as well.
Thanks to the NHS, trips to the hospital are largely free in the UK. However, free healthcare is the exception not the rule and you may find that keeping your family in good health when abroad can be rather costly.
Those free trips to the dentist and the opticians that your children currently enjoy also may not be provided overseas, forcing you to shell out for a potentially expensive healthcare plan in order to ensure they get their yearly check-ups, not to mention the premiums if they need a tooth pulled or a new pair of glasses.
Depending on where you’re moving you may also need to budget for the cost of vaccinations as some – such as those against rabies and tuberculosis – are not covered by the NHS and will require you to go to a private clinic, which can cost up to £50 for each dose of the vaccine.
You probably have a number of monthly outgoings for various services and bills which can quickly add up if you forget to cancel them. Let’s face it, there no point in paying for that Netflix subscription if Netflix doesn’t even operate in the country you’re moving to!
Those thinking of keeping property at home will also need to budget for the costs associated with it, such as council tax, and someone to maintain it in your absence. If you plan to rent it out you’ll need to make sure that your home meets the safety standards required and pay for any alterations needed. You will also need to hire managing agents to manage your property in your absence.
One of your top priorities, if you haven’t already done it, is to contact HMRC and inform them that you will be moving from the UK, the last thing you want to be doing is paying tax in the UK when you no longer reside there.
Be aware however that the UK does have some double-taxation agreements with certain countries which can include things such as capital-gains tax and income tax. You can find a list of UK tax agreements with various countries here.
If you use a UK-based bank you will most likely find that you are charged a fee when you attempt to use your card for either transactions or withdrawals when abroad, of course this is going to become extremely costly very quickly so you will want to set up an account with a bank in the country you’re moving to.
Keep enough money in your old account so that it isn’t closed down as it will make it far easier when returning home if you have an account to transfer your funds into.
The final cost to think about when moving abroad is the transfer of your money abroad. Some currency exchange providers charge transfer fees, eating into the amount you receive, and some don’t offer particularly good exchange rates.
Exchange rates are constantly changing as the markets react to political and economic events, for example the value of the Pound dropped dramatically following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
A slight dip in the exchange rate can cause larger transfers (like those involved in moving savings or purchasing foreign property) to be worth hundreds or even thousands of Pounds less – so it’s important to get the best rate possible if you want to get off to a good start in your new home.
If you want to find out more about securing a competitive exchange rate and getting more for your money look into your currency transfer options.
Take some of these less obvious expenses into account when budgeting for your move overseas and you reduce the odds of being stung by financial surprises later down the line. If you’re planning to move overseas in the near future, good luck with your venture!
© TorFX. Unauthorised copying or re-wording of this blog content is prohibited. The copyright of this content is owned by Tor Currency Exchange Ltd. Any unauthorised copying or re-wording will constitute an infringement of copyright.