Moving abroad? The hidden costs of expatriation

Not surprisingly, more families are considering the possibility of moving abroad than ever before. Becoming an expat family can be beneficial in many ways, but of course, a decision such as this takes careful consideration. After counting all the pros–a better way of life, lower living costs, and a chance to broaden your horizons–also consider a few things you may not have thought of yet.


Surprisingly, there are many hidden costs when you are considering moving abroad. The reason for this is that there are many more things to organize than if you were on a trip. Aside from the usual housing expenses, there are also several bureaucratic expenses to consider when moving abroad to include the cost of translating and notarizing them. Consider the following hidden costs before deciding that relocating as an expatriate is within your realistic budget:

Moving Money

One of the most difficult assets to move abroad is your currency. The reason for this is that many times, an expatriate needs to have enough capital with them if they plan on starting a job in a new country. Until their first paycheck comes, they have to be quite careful that they have enough to cover the rent on a new apartment and deposit, for example. The rent aside, there are many other expenses to get started including preliminary food and administrative expenses related to getting settled.

Should you decide to bring currency from your home country, it is highly recommended that you utilize money transfer companies to conduct your transactions. Once you establish a local bank account in your new locale, the process will be quite streamlined, which will enable you the potential to save a great deal of capital when you are both moving money to your new locale and when you transfer your earnings home.

Be sure to carefully shop around when consulting various money transfer companies in order to ascertain which companies would provide you with the best possible rate to move your money efficiently. There are review sites around like which help you digest all the information without all the legwork via detailed reviews (here’s an example review).

Moving Your Family

It is one thing to expatriate solo; however, if you are planning on bringing your family, it could be quite beneficial for you to consider what additional expense this will cost you until you receive your first paycheck. Pertaining to children, children have many expenses related to education and establishing a reliable home base for the child to be raised in.

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Overall, you should follow the rule of tripling your budget when moving your family in order to adequately plan for last minute expenses that are necessary to allow your family to both move and transition effectively into a new culture. Doing so will make your life far easier in those first few months when you are getting acclimated.

If you have pets, you need to consider how much it will cost to move them as well. There are many expensive airplane tickets that involve pets. Additionally, many jurisdictions have relocation inspections for pets to undergo that can be quite costly when passing through customs. Be sure to take these considerations into account so that you do not have any unfortunate financial surprises waiting for you when you arrive to your new locale. If you take these issues into consideration, you will be better prepared for your upcoming move.

Tip: Check to see if you need an apostille service, required for all documents destined for use outside of the United States.

International Shipping

Another aspect that many individuals attempting to expatriate fail to take into consideration is the exorbitant cost of shipping your belongings from Point A to Point B. It is vital that you take this cost into consideration if you are moving to a destination that is quite far from your home country. Unlike local moving, shipping can be something that makes or breaks your move, particularly if you are moving furniture.

In addition to shipping, be sure that you take into consideration the customs duties associated with shipping your belongings and the time that they will be held and inspected in customs. This is particularly true for larger items that you may be shipping such as cars and furniture. Failure to budget and plan for these situations is something that will cause you a great detriment in your finances. Be sure that you over budget for international shipping and customs duties to avoid any problems as you transition to your new country of choice.

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Concluding Remarks 

To conclude, expatriating is a very exciting time for both individuals and families. That being said, there are many unprecedented expenses that pop up here and there as any individual or family is making such a major transition in their lives.

Be sure that you consider this carefully when relocating abroad. Where many expats make critical errors is in failing to plan for the unexpected financially. Ideally, you should plan your budget for your move for at least one month in order to plan as accurately as possible.

This, combined with using money transfer companies is something that will serve you quite well as you transition to your new locale. Thus, be sure to carefully plan for your move abroad and do not discount any possible expense because odds are that you will come across many surprises as you relocate and that is surely part of the adventure of being an expat. Good luck!



About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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