Expatriation, costs and payment methods
A plan to move countries, as appealing as it may sound, entails a number of expenses that it is important to anticipate. Moreover, financial transaction systems differ from place to place and it is best to become familiar with their terms and conditions before moving to a different country.
Moving countries entails various costs that must be considered. Of course, the budget for an international move largely depends on the final destination and especially the cost of living there. However, there are some inescapable costs linked to settling into a new life, regardless of the country of destination.
The various expenses
Plane tickets may form a significant part of the budget, especially if the intended destination is far away. Moreover, depending on the country, the cost of a working visa is higher than that of a tourist visa and may reach €250. What’s more, various expenses linked to administrative documents (photos, photocopies of documents, certificates that may not be free, etc.) must be taken into account in the overall budget, even if they are modest.
The costs of settling down are also a big item of expenditure. In large cities, rent prices are higher than in provincial towns, and landlords often require a deposit that may cover up to three months of salary. This new accommodation will also need to be furnished. Buying new furniture, electrical appliances, hi-fi or computer equipment, and more may lead to expenses that were underestimated. Of course, international removal services and taking your own furniture with you is an option. If this option is considered, it is recommended to obtain several different quotes from carriers as fees may vary by as much as threefold depending on whether the chosen mode of transportation is by air, rail, or sea. It should be noted that in the case of sea transport, you will have to be patient as boats can take up to two months to deliver a cargo.
Once you have settled into your new home, you will have to connect to the world. Telephone and internet subscriptions, though their prices are becoming more and more affordable, are a yearly cost to take into account.
Other expenses will also make a dent in the budget, such as health insurance (essential to cover any accident), home insurance, and car insurance if you are planning on acquiring one.
You will also need to allow for transport costs for travelling or commuting.
Often, moving abroad is not done alone and the whole family follows. It is therefore necessary to plan for costs linked to the children’s schooling. International schools help children adapt to their new life better, however tuition fees may be excessively high depending on the school chosen. Of course, in some countries public schools are free and are therefore a cheaper option.
Lastly, to adjust to the new country as best as possible, it is recommended to become involved in the life of the local community. Language courses and taking part in cultural activities or sports are good ways to feel more comfortable and understand the country’s customs and traditions, although this is rarely a given!
Plan for payment methods
Before leaving, it is important to look into the money transfer system and above all to make sure you bring some cash.
In some countries, bank transactions are not always easy. Leaving with some cash in the local currency to meet your needs right after you arrive is essential. What’s more, commissions charged by banks can vary and are sometimes exorbitant, so it may turn out to be useful to explore the options available to keep bank fees at a minimum.
Withdrawing cash using a bank card is a possible solution. Again, however, most banks charge high commissions on transactions. Moreover, some bank cards do not work in all countries. Visa and Mastercard are most commonly used in most places. American Express also offers easy and affordable ways to pay, but the card is not accepted everywhere. It is therefore necessary to make sure that your bank card works in the country of destination and above all that international transaction fees are not too high.
Of course, it is possible to make transfers from one account to another, but transfers in a given currency or in euros require the beneficiary to have a bank account; it is a safe way to pay large amounts, however. In the European Union, SEPA credit transfers are free of charge and often completed on the same day.
As for international payments (outside the euro zone), fees and commissions vary considerably, as do transaction times, as there is no nomenclature on transfer times.
In case of an emergency, there are several approved companies that deal with money transfers (Western Union or Money Gram). They make it easy to transfer money – all you need is an identity document and a code. However, the cost of such transactions can be excessive.
Online banks and neobanks offer solutions to pay or withdraw money abroad and make transfers without having to pay fees. This is an excellent alternative to traditional banks if you want to transfer money abroad at a lower cost. On the other hand, signing up to these services is sometimes reserved for residents of certain countries, so it is best to check in advance.
Lastly, you must also take into account customs legislation in the departure and arrival countries as substantial amounts of cash must often be declared to the authorities. Some countries also monitor capital outflows and inflows. It is best to be aware of the regulations in force when exporting or importing money to avoid any difficulties with the authorities.
To sum up, any expatriation entails costs and it is vital to anticipate all the financial needs before leaving.