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Counting The Cost of Moving Abroad

Guest Post: 

So, you’re thinking about making the move abroad? It’s a thrilling prospect – but there are more than a few hoops to jump through before even considering setting foot on a plane. Most importantly, have you thought about the costs involved?

1. How will you exchange your currency?
When going on holiday, exchanging a few hundred pounds for spending money can often be done through your bank. But when moving abroad, you’ll probably have to exchange a lump sum, so it’s worth doing your homework and finding a foreign currency broker that can offer you a low rate, as this could save lots of money.

2. What about the cost of living?
A good way to figure this out is to visit the place where you would like to move to, and make notes on the general cost of everyday items like milk and sugar, as well as meals out and other activities you plan on enjoying.

However, for a broader picture, head to expat forums to find out more about the cost of utilities, rent, and so on. You should draw up a realistic budget plan using these figures to see if it’s affordable.

Key things to look out for in this budget are healthcare and education. In Nairobi, for instance, schooling can be expensive – as much as 25% of your wage if you have two or more children, explained in this helpful post. The majority are advised to take out private medical insurance.

3. What transport will you use?
Transport can be one of the biggest outgoings here in the UK and circumstances can be similar abroad. It’s worth finding out what the infrastructure is like for public transport in your destination of choice.

If you plan on driving, check whether it’s cheaper to buy a car once you move over, or have your existing car shipped across – for instance, purchasing a second hand car in Nairobi can be a huge expense since they are imported and heavily taxed, so can cost ten times the amount that they do in the UK. However, you do have a window of a few months after arrival to ship your own car into the country, duty free.

4. How will your pension be affected?
In the UK, your pension will rise every year. However, if you’re retired, it will depend on which country you’re moving to as to whether your pension increases each year, or stays at a frozen rate. There are lots of factors that could potentially be at play here, so contact the International Pension Centre for information on how you could be affected.

If you’re not retired yet, though, then you should still be able to pay into a UK pension scheme from abroad, should you wish to. In any case, it’s worth making plans for your retirement, whether you plan to remain living abroad or you decide to return to the UK. More advice is available in this post from the Pension Advisory Service.

And don’t forget…

4. Taxes
Lots to remember here – perhaps most importantly, tell the HMRC that you’re leaving the country. This will mean that you can avoid paying tax twice, in the UK and your new home, though there are exceptions – you may have to pay tax on properties you own in the UK, for example. Find out more here.

5. Pets
Will you take them with you? If so, arrange for the necessary vaccinations and immunisations in plenty of time, get them microchipped, and look into the best options for transporting them to your new home.

6. A fund for annual visits home
Chances are, you’ll want to visit the UK to see friends and family at some point but how frequently can depend on how far you’ll be moving, and of course your budget. Include the cost of trips home when planning your annual budget, as undoubtedly you will need to return home from time to time.

And how best to settle in once you get there? We’ve got some great tips on how to integrate into a new community in this blog post.

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