How to Save Money to Move Abroad (And How Much You Need)

Updated November 8, 2016

How to Save to Move Abroad and How Much You Need

I frequently get asked how much money you need to move abroad, and how to save money to move abroad and travel.If you’re sitting there wondering “I want to move abroad, where do I start?” then you’re in the right place!

Travel can teach us so much, but I love how moving abroad can help us to really know another culture better. There are a few things you should know before you do it, but I swear moving abroad is one of the best decisions you could ever make!

The problem is, in the same way that saving for travel can seem like a mystery, people don’t know how to move abroad. How much money they’ll need, how to save it, how to find accommodation, and what to do when you get there.

A lot of people are afraid of living abroad because they think it will be difficult. I won’t say it’s always easy, but being able to explore another country in depth and make it your home, and often explore a whole other part of the world is really amazing. Seeing how things can be done so differently from how you’ve always known them, or even be done better can be an eye-opening experience.

When we travel, especially long term, we often see our bank account dwindling down to zero. Moving abroad means that doesn’t have to happen! But how do you make it work, how do you know how much money you need to move abroad, and how do you save it?

I decided it was time for a breakdown of how to figure out how much money you need to make one of the best adventures of your life! Hopefully, it will help any of you thinking about moving abroad but not sure how to start, or if you’re not sure how much money you need to do it. There are so many ways to travel the world while still earning money, and moving abroad is just one of them.

Firstly a caveat, how much money you need to move abroad is super dependent on the circumstances surrounding your move. But I want to at least give you an idea of what to consider, so here goes.

Decide on the location you’re moving to

Choosing a country to move to is a big factor in how much money you’ll need of course, in the same way that where you travel affects the funds you need. Location is the biggest consideration in the cost of moving abroad. How much it cost to move abroad to somewhere with a higher cost of living like New Zealand, Australia or Europe will mean you’re going to need to save more than moving to some places in Asia. If you haven’t decided where you want to live abroad then that’s the first step! Afterwards you’ll be able to set your savings goals.

If you have work abroad already

If you’re moving overseas because you have a job lined up, congratulations! That’s a huge part of the stress over with. You won’t necessarily need to save as much money, although it’s always a case of the more the better. It is possible to move abroad with no money, but risky, and I would say that having a job to go to is the only way to do that.

There is no magic answer on how to move abroad with no money, because no matter what you’ll need something to get you there in the first place. It is possible to move abroad with no money, but risky, and I would say that having a job to go to is the only way to do that.

If you’re qualified, TEFL jobs in Asia are an option if you don’t have much money and want to move abroad. If you want to teach English they usually require either native English speakers or a certain level of English, but the pay is generally good and much better than teaching English elsewhere. It’s one way that a lot of people move to another country with little money.

Teaching a language other than English overseas is an option in some places too, so don’t lose heart if English isn’t your first language. If you meet the criteria for a teaching position overseas then it’s a great way to go straight into a job and often accommodation, and sometimes your flights are paid too. Get paid to move to another country? Yes, please!

If you don’t already have a job abroad but want to move then the first step is research on how easy it might be to get a temporary job in the location you want to move to. Can you speak to people who might have moved there before? Ask in Expat groups on Facebook, check out blogs, or use good old Google. Sometimes it’s hard information to find but it can make a big difference to your experience so don’t give up. When I moved to the UK I chose Edinburgh, knowing it would be harder to get a temporary job than my friends who moved to London, and this made a difference to how I approached finding a job and my first few months.

But how much money do you actually need to save to move abroad?

How much does it cost to move to another country? How long is a piece of string!? Of course, it’s difficult to say what the real cost of moving overseas is when you take into account variables like location and whether you have a job, but I know I wanted an answer to this question so if I had to give a magic number it would be approximately two months worth of living costs. That should include rent, groceries, and a few fun things since you’re moving country for the experiences right?!

Even if you might be able to stay with people you know then I would still recommend saving rent money because you never know if things might fall through, if you might need to leave their house sooner or if it might take longer to get a job than you thought.

How to Save to Move Abroad and How Much You Need

So once you know how much to save to move abroad, the next step is saving it! Then one you make the move there are things you can do to make that money last as long as possible. Here’s my top tips that I’ve learned from moving abroad 5 times!

Top tips for saving money to move abroad, and saving money when you get there

Pay your debt first

Whenever I’m trying to save for travel I always pay off any debt first, and when you’re saving to move abroad it’s no different. Start by working out how much money you need to relocate, and then build your way up to it by paying your debt first.

If it’s credit cards then I consolidate them or move them to a new bank offering an interest-free rate on credit transfers. Just make sure you can pay the debt in the interest-free time as the fees can get higher after! When you have debt hanging over your head then it’s harder to save, and whatever you’re saving isn’t really yours. So blast the debt as quickly as possible and be done with it.

Cut up the credit cards

When I have a serious saving for travel goal in mind I cut up my credit cards. Anything that I can’t afford without them will have to wait and if I’m trying to pay any debt off then it’s not going to work if I keep putting more on it. If you’re serious about saving the money to move then it’s a step you might just need to take! In the past, I have cut up my credit cards and taped them back together just in case I need to book something online, but now that debit cards are commonplace and can be used like a credit card online I don’t even bother with this! Cut them up. Seriously. Or at least never carry them around.

In the past, I have cut up my credit cards and taped them back together just in case I need to book something online, but now that debit cards are commonplace and can be used like a credit card online I don’t even bother with this! Cut them up. Seriously. Or at least never carry them around.

Work out your biggest costs and slash them

When I was first budgeting to travel I realised how much money I spend on food. A coffee here, a muffin or takeaway there. It all added up to huge amounts per week that I didn’t really need to spend. I realised all those treats I was having were eating away at my travel money and savings for moving overseas. If you want to move abroad but have no money, take a serious look at where it’s going!

I firmly believe you still need to have a life while you’re saving, but just make some smarter choices. I would still budget in some time having a coffee or brunch with friends, but less frequently and more cheaply if possible, and taking a packed lunch to work was a must.

If you start equating what you’re spending with what you could be using that money for in your new country, or how much more towards your plane ticket it is then you start hesitating a lot more before spending. Once you do it for a little while it just becomes another habit!

I also taped little notes to my debit cards saying things like “Do you really need that?” “Do you want to travel or not?”. Whenever a person in a shop noticed it there would be some raised eyebrows or laughs but it seriously worked more often than not!

Work exchange when you first arrive

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I moved abroad completely on my own was to sign up to a lease and lock myself into owing money straight away. I was paying bills from day one and I had zero income to do it. The money I’d saved for travel and moving abroad all went in the first couple of months on living. I secured a job within 6 weeks but unfortunately, couldn’t start it for another couple of months. I ended up using credit cards and didn’t pay that debt off until I moved again a couple of years later. HUGE lesson learned.

Now if I’m not moving abroad with a job I would always look at things like HelpX and Workaway to get me through that first period while I look for legitimate work. These work exchange options mean little money, if any, is spent on accommodation and food, and you can be applying for jobs and going to interviews in the meantime. Plus it means you get around that problem of which comes first, the job or the accommodation since the distance between the two can be a big deal! It also gives you a chance to check out different areas to see where you might want to live and see if the place is even for you.

How to Save to Move Abroad and How Much You Need

It’s hard to give concrete answers to the questions of how much money you need to move abroad, just like it is to how much money you need to save for travel. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to go about your planning and some tips for making it happen!

Have you moved abroad? Did you make any mistakes with money or do you have any top tips?

Read next: 5 Ways to Make Friends When You Move Abroad

Read next: How to Choose a Country to Move to

Read next: You Should Know These Things Before You Move Abroad

Sonja x

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How to Save Money to Move Abroad and How Much Money You Need to Live Abroad How to Save Money to Move Abroad and How Much Money You Need to Live Abroad How to Save Money to Move Abroad and How Much Money You Need to Live Abroad How to Save Money to Move Abroad and How Much Money You Need to Live Abroad

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22 Comments

  • Reply Clare November 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Good tips, I don’t think people realise how much they spend daily on things they don’t need!! After travelling for the past 4 years I am so much more careful with money, even when I am home. I have been very lucky when I moved abroad as I already had a job lined up in NZ and then I moved to Colombia and Mexico for a job too. Dreading the day when the money runs out though!!

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 12, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Definitely!!! I think so much more carefully about things after travelling. Sometimes it drives my other half crazy though haha. But as long as travelling is one of my top priorities I can’t let the saving habits go!

  • Reply Katie November 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    An interesting read. I am a primary teacher currently applying for jobs around the world and it is so exciting! You can also teach TEFL online – that is how my partner and I funded our first travels 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Very exciting!! I’ve actually been meaning to look more into teaching TEFL online. It’s something I want to try in the New Year!

  • Reply Arnav @ Eat, Travel, Live and REPEAT November 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    This question often pops up in my mind but I always go to bed without getting an answer. But today, I got some answers through this post which are going to be of a lot of importance to me.Thanks for consolidating and sharing.

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks! I’m glad it was helpful and maybe you’ll be able to put it into use! 🙂

  • Reply Jimmy and Tina November 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    These are really good points on paying off bills and not using credit cards if you are planning on moving. I know how difficult it is to live in another country with bills hanging over your head. Also good to try and secure some kind of work before you leave depending on where you are going it’s not always that easy to find work.

  • Reply Vicki Louise November 13, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Great tips! I’ve lived in 6 countries to date and agree with your tips about working out how much money you need dependent on destination – it really does make all the difference. I just wish I could cut my credit cards up (even when I’m not moving!) – but I just don’t have the self-discipline!

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks Vicki! It is really hard to say since it’s location dependent, but then that means you can look for cheaper places if you think you can’t save much I suppose! Haha I did request a new card after I’d paid it off and I have it for backups, and try very very hard not to use it!

  • Reply Ticking the Bucketlist November 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks for such a useful post. I had no clue about HelpX and am going to look it up. However, being an Indian, moving so easily is a challenge…our passport is not welcome easily unless we have a committed job offer. That makes things difficult. Hoping that I do find a job to take me to Europe soon!

  • Reply neha November 13, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    These are really good and practical tips. Particularly the one for teaching English. Perhaps I can relate to it. Although english is not my native tongue, I would be absolutely delighted to teach english given a chance. And I have full confidence in doing so

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      There are definitely English teaching jobs out there that don’t require a native English speaker! To be honest I think sometimes people who learn a language understand more the mechanics of how to do it, and may even be better teachers!

  • Reply Krysti November 13, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Fantastic post! It’s definitely a question that gets asked a lot and this is super helpful for a lot of people. Getting rid of debt and credit cards is so important. Sharing this as it’s so helpful, especially for a lot of my friends!

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 15, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks so much! I think it’s much harder to get rid of the debt if you keep adding more. It’s tough but doable! I’ve done it twice so I’m proof haha.

  • Reply Janine Good November 13, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    These are great tips. I moved from Canada to the UK for 2 years and really had to be careful with costs as the British Pound was a terrible exchange to the Canadian dollar. I agree about having a minimum of 2 months living expenses as you just never know when you will secure work. I think I would struggle if I cut up my credit cards lol

    • Reply Migrating Miss November 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      It’s so difficult to know as well because the exchange rate changes all the time, so I always try to think of the living costs there because they shouldn’t change too much. The first time I moved to the UK from Australia the exchange rate was amazing, the second time it was at least a third less. Which sucked haha. It depends how you use your cards of course, but if you work out what you put on them and if you need to do that, then it might be easier! I still have a credit card right now, but when I had a lot of debt on credit cards the last thing I wanted to do was add more :(.

  • Reply Faith Cooper February 22, 2017 at 6:27 am

    Thank you for sharing. Moving can be daunting—especially when you’re on a tight budget. How do you get all your stuff out of your current home and into your new place without dropping a ton of cash in the process

    • Reply Migrating Miss February 22, 2017 at 11:50 am

      It sure can! There’s always so much to do. Usually I end up getting rid of as much as possible, either by selling it or giving it away. Then I don’t have too much to move! If you want to keep it though then there are some great removal services who will do it for you and don’t charge the earth. It really depends where you are and where you’re going though!

  • Reply Chomzzy September 5, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    How do you find accommodation abroad once you get there? or is there somewhere you can stay for the time being like a hotel or something?
    Awesome Post btw!

    • Reply Migrating Miss September 9, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Thanks! Usually I would find more secure accommodation once I arrived. Options for the meantime are to stay with people you know (friends or friends of friends), stay in something like Airbnb or a hostel which is usually cheaper than a hotel, or you can also look at something like HelpX or Workaway which is usually accommodation in exchange for some work.

  • Reply Jane Brumley October 21, 2017 at 5:46 am

    GIRL! This was crazy helpful! I too am planning on moving to Edinburgh (I lost it when I read that that’s where you moved!). Wondering if you can shed some light on if it’s cheaper to ship your stuff over or to buy all new stuff there? Maybe something in between? Thank you so much for this amazing article!!

    • Reply Migrating Miss October 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Haha thank you!! Honestly, I shipped stuff over and it was a complete waste of money. I didn’t wear any of my clothes really since the weather and fashion was so different! It depends where you’re coming from but I would bring your favourites and that’s it, and buy stuff here!

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