Calculating the true cost of becoming an expat

Calculating the true cost of becoming an expat

Calculating the true cost of becoming an expat

As the UK sinks even deeper into the Brexit mire, more and more would-be expats are planning to leave, some for ever.

Starting a new life in a new land is seductive at best, but can be disastrous if financial planning isn’t given serious consideration. Finding a job in a warmer country with higher pay thrown in or deciding on the perfect retirement haven for the rest of your life may be all well and good, but the actual cost of the move may come as a shock.

It’s not just the plane ticket, your excess baggage charges and taxis to and from airports, it’s the cost of visas, customs duty and removing your home and its treasures halfway across the world. In addition, extra costs in your chosen country need to be taken into consideration, even if they’re either well hidden or won’t be relevant for several years or more. One point to remember is that the majority of destinations don’t have free heathcare and, if they do, even fewer offer it to newly-arrived expatriates. If you’re relocating for work reasons, your employer should take care of private health insurance; if not, you’re in for a rude awakening as no single world country offers inexpensive , competent private healthcare nowadays.

If you’re emigrating with your family in tow, schooling for the kids can also involve huge outgoings, especially if they’re aiming at a university degree. Again, expats on reassignment should get financial help on this issue, but those who don’t will need to have a solid gold nest egg in order to cope with the fees. Visas everywhere on the planet are expensive, either via their financial requirements or by many other tricks employed by immigration departments to up their revenues. In Asian countries, brown envelopes may well be needed if your employer isn’t picking up the tab.

One of the most expensive outlays when moving overseas is the cost of shipping household items you can’t bear to live without. In many countries, electronic goods and furniture are good quality and far cheaper than in the West, a fact you should bear in mind when you’re costing out your move. In addition, if you do decide to ship everything, you won’t see your household goods for around two months and, unless you’re very lucky, the customs duty on importing the shipment will make your and your credit card provider’s eyes water!

If you’re looking to buy a home once you’re settled in for the long-term, the idea is fine because long-term rentals soon add up and, in many countries, don’t provide residential security. However, property laws vary hugely from country to country, meaning you’ll need professional help. For example, if you’re headed for Cambodia, expats can own the upper floors of the house but not the ground floor as it’s set on land which belongs to the country itself – yet another brown envelope scenario. Finally, expats leaving the UK for retirement in the sun should make sure to check whether the British state pension is frozen in their chosen haven.

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