Financial Planning for Your Expat Experience

Posted By Gerardo ( on 31/01/2014

This is a guest post from InterNations

In order to make the most of your expat experience, it is essential to plan ahead. In addition to reading up on the customs and practices in the country you are moving to, you should also do some research on the cost of living. Just because you are moving to a country that is cheap to travel around as a tourist, doesn’t mean that the cost of living will be inexpensive for an expat.

Especially if you want to maintain the same Western lifestyle you had back home, some cities, especially in parts of Africa, number among the most expensive expat destinations based on cost of living. Other cities, such as Geneva and Tokyo, are expensive for everyone, expats and locals alike.

Depending on where you are headed, you will have to keep different things in mind when planning your budget. Is safety an issue? Will you need to live in a gated compound with 24-hour security guards? What about health issues? How is the quality of local health care? Will public health insurance suffice, or will you need to invest a considerable amount in private health insurance, which will give you access to high-quality private hospitals and doctors? All these could be expenses you weren’t counting on.

Other unexpected expenses can include needing vaccinations and special medicine during your expat assignment. All the administrative steps associated with starting a job abroad can also start adding up. These include applying for your visa and then your residence and/or work permit once you arrive. Be sure to also look into the transportation situation in the city you will be moving to. Will you need a car, or can you rely on public transportation to get around?

If you are moving with children, does your host country’s government provide public child care or will you have to arrange and pay for this yourself for your under school age children? What is the quality of the public schools? Will you need to send your children to an international school?

Make a budget before you leave, and try to account for all foreseeable expenses. Be sure to also budget in a little extra to be able to make an emergency trip home, if necessary.

If you don’t have to worry about money during your expat assignment, you’re more likely to have a successful experience abroad. This will also free up your time to focus on adapting to the cultural and social differences in your host country. Take some language classes. Join a club and make some local friends. Soon you will be feeling right at home in your new life abroad.

About the author

InterNations is the largest expatriate network worldwide. It was founded in 2007 and now has over one million members present in more than 390 Local Communities around the world. Members can interact with each other in a secure online and offline environment through events and activities. InterNations also provided members the support and know how when moving abroad through various guide articles and also from members directly via the forum section.