Top tips for a cheap relocation
Posted on May 4, 2011
George Eves gives his top tips for readers looking to move to a different country without breaking the bank.
Whilst the heady days of generous relocation packages might be over, if you’re moving at the request of a company this is still the opportunity to get a good deal for you and your family. Things to ask for include accommodation, moving costs, health care, trips home and your children’s education. Very few companies now pay for all of these, but many will contribute something – and you’d be surprised how flexible they can be.
Getting some good tax advice before you leave could really make a difference to how much you can spend or save once you’ve relocated. The rules and regulations are changing every year and you don’t want to get caught out. Not all banks in the UK, for example, allow you to keep an account open with them if you move abroad so check first. It might be advantageous to setup an offshore bank account if you know you’re going to be abroad for some time though ‘Know your customer’ regulations and minimum balance requirements (which can vary widely, though this isn’t advertised by the banks) can cause small hiccups depending on where you’re moving to.
Find out if you are being paid in local currency or sterling, and what exchange rate your contract is set to. Exchange rates are fluctuating a lot at the moment and can have a massive effect on your spending budget. This is especially important if you still have bills to pay back home. Whilst there’s no need to become a currency speculator, keep an eye on what’s going on and choose your moment to move money back home if you need do. Also try and use one of the specialist currency traders rather than your local bank to do any transfers, as they can be cheaper.
Whilst the popular expat areas of a city mean that you’re more likely to be close to your friends, the costs can be prohibitive. Local landlords know this and adjust prices accordingly. Often looking a couple of streets further away can make a huge difference.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to get a rental contract in the local currency. In Russia for example, a lot of landlords prefer to be not paid in the local currency (roubles) but ask for US dollars or euros, often in cash. Either that or the rent is agreed in one currency (euros for example) but then paid in the local currency at a varying exchange rate each month. If this is the case, you need be careful of currency fluctuations – and ask to change the way you pay if necessary.
If you’re moving with your children, school fees come second after accommodation for breaking the budget. You can find international schools in most cities around the world but sometimes competition for places can be tight and they can be as expensive as public schools back home. If you think you’re going to be there some time, don’t rule out a local school. It will be hard at first, but your children are much more likely to make friends outside of the expat community, and may develop a better understanding of their new home. Consider getting lessons for them in the language of the place you are moving to before departure to help make the transition easier.
6. Staying in touch
it goes without saying that costs of communication have dropped massively over the last few years so the days of £10-per-minute phone calls are nearly gone. If they aren’t already familiar with them, spend some time with your friends and family to get them up to speed with services such as Skype and Viber. Teach them how to use their webcam, and how to send photographs in emails.
7. Going local
Whilst all expats often crave the trappings of home it can be very expensive to keep up. Adapt your diet as imported food can be very expensive; besides, you haven’t moved abroad to have exactly the same life that you had at home.
8. Starting afresh
Do you need to move with everything? How about starting with a clean slate, selling everything you have at home and moving with a suitcase? Whilst it might sound extreme, if you’re moving to Asia, are you really going to need all those jumpers and thick coats? With invariably a cheaper cost of living, you may be able to get your new life off the ground for less than it would have cost to ship all your old possessions out to you.
A native of Switzerland, and now a British citizen, George Eves is the founder of ExpatInfoDesk.com, an online resource for expats and anyone considering international relocation. An expat himself in Moscow, he has lived or spent significant time in Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, Poland, Ukraine, South Africa, India and Russia.
28 April 2011
For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com