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Top 10 Cheapest Ways to Move Abroad

 

Whether for work, retirement or play, more and more people are deciding to take the plunge and try out life in other parts of the world. International living is no longer a privilege exclusively enjoyed by the most wealthy. No matter what your income, with careful budgeting, you can reap the benefits of a life abroad.

Moving abroad takes a lot of planning, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With the right organisation and enough time, you can start to live that expat life while saving money. Here are some helpful tips on how to move abroad for cheap.

1. Time

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Time is your friend. The more time you have to plan, the better off you’ll be not only financially, but also emotionally. If you’re lucky enough to have over six months to plan your move abroad, then take advantage of it and start making arrangements right away, as most of the best deals can be found well in advance.

Early-bird specials are popular with airlines, accommodation, travel bookings and more, so start planning, researching and booking your international move as soon as possible.

2. Buying Flights

Source: Unsplash |Suhyeon Choi

The general rule for booking the cheapest flights is: the earlier, the better. It’s tempting to wait, especially if you hear of last minute deals on flights. However, we don’t recommend this approach for a couple of reasons:

  • There usually aren’t any. In fact, they’re normally more expensive as people are more desperate for a flight; and
  • Who wants to leave that to chance anyway? The more prepared you are, the easier it is to budget and plan ahead.

Finding those cheap flights

Use a website which compares all airlines to find the cheapest price, shortlist the best deals and then see if you can find an even better deal directly with the airline itself. Sites such as Skyscanner can help you find the more most affordable flight allowing you to look at flights on a month by month basis to find the best deal If you’re under 26 years old, STA travel can provide better deals for young expats.

Lots of travel agencies price match, so if you find a great deal but are wary of booking through an unknown agency, forward the itinerary to someone you trust who will price match; then you can rest assured that your booking will be in safe hands.

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Lots of travel agencies price match, so if you find a great deal but are wary of booking through an unknown agency, forward the itinerary to someone you trust who will price match. Then you can rest assured that your booking will be in safe hands.

Travel while you move

Splitting up your flights can save a lot of money too. E.g. Booking a direct flight from Sydney – London via Bangkok can cost a lot more than booking a flight from Sydney – Bangkok, then another from Bangkok – London. You can even plan a little holiday in between (more on that later).

3. Baggage Allowances

Source: Flickr | THOR

When booking your flights, pay special attention to the T&C’s on the baggage allowances. You’re not just going on holiday, you’re moving abroad, so every single kilogramme counts

Most non-budget airlines allow 23kgs checked baggage for a standard economy ticket, but some (like Singapore Airlines or Emirates) allow 30kgs. If there’s only a slight difference in price between airlines then look into the details. For an extra few dollars, the 7kgs extra luggage can definitely be worth it!

4. Budgeting is Key!

Budget

The most important aspect to moving abroad cheaply is becoming really great at budgeting.

Everyone can be good with money. It just takes a little patience and a lot of self-control. Each time you get money in, plan how you’ll use every last penny.

Start by making a spreadsheet that lists all incomings and outgoings, then set budgets for anything you need to buy and never exceed them – it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate. Once you start really monitoring how you spend your dollars, you’ll realise where the leaks are and it becomes much easier to start reigning in your spending.

Start by making a spreadsheet that lists all incomings and outgoings, then set budgets for anything you need to buy and never exceed them – it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate. Once you start really monitoring how you spend your dollars, you’ll realise where the leaks are and it becomes much easier to start reigning in your spending.

5. Selling belongings before your move

If you’re moving abroad then you’re probably not taking every single thing you own with you, and the chances are that you’ll notice just how much (excuse the honesty) junk you have accumulated over the years.

You know the saying: ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? Rather than putting your belongings into expensive storage, or packing them into boxes, sell them and use the extra funds to top up your savings account.

Today’s technology has provided us with plenty of ways to sell our things. From eBay to Gumtree, you can find people far and wide who are willing to take your stuff off your hands. Or you can go old-school: get up early, organise a car boot sale. You’ll be surprised at the number of buyers who will be after your discarded items.

6. Shipping vs. Air freight

Source: Flickr | Daniel Ramirez

It doesn’t take too long to work out the price of your shipping . Shipping takes time and a little more organisation, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re saving pennies.

If you arrive in your new country in winter, ship your winter clothes as soon as you’re finished with them, and vice versa for summer. If you’re moving countries but not seasons, it’s always easier to move in the summer when your wardrobe is half its size (if not less), and you can ship your winter things over as you’re leaving, which should arrive just in time for the cooler weather.

If you don’t have that option and are arriving from the cold to the cold, you’ll need to get back to essentials and just accept that you’ll be wearing the same coat and winter gear for a few months. Layer up for the plane trip and wear your heaviest winter coat and shoes on the flight so that you can send the lighter things, or even squeeze them into your suitcase if you’re lucky (see cheap moving tip #3).

Master cheap shipping

Decide what kind of removal option is right for you. Door to door services, where your items are picked up from your current home and sent to your new one are convenient, but they will cost you more. Opting for a port to port service, where you drop the contents you wish to ship off at your local port and pick them up again at your destination port, will cost considerably less.

This requires more work and planning on your end, but it can end up saving you a hefty sum.

7. Take advantage of your Transit

Source: Flickr | martinak15

It’s not often in life that you get the opportunity to truly travel with no strings attached – no job, rent or responsibilities to worry about. If you plan on taking advantage of this situation by spending some time travelling before settling into your new country, the cheapest way to move abroad is to plan your transit location well.

Many long-haul flights require transits, whilst short flights can often be cheaper with a stopover along the way, so make the most of this and plan a holiday at your stopover.

8. Accommodation on Arrival

Source: Unsplash | Sophia Baboolal

If you’re on a budget, then don’t waste your time looking at fancy hotels to stay in when you first arrive. You’ll want to find something that is self-sufficient with a kitchen and ideally a laundry room, as these things will save you a lot of spending money in your first weeks.

If possible, tap into any connections that you may have, even if it’s a friend’s auntie’s neighbour’s mum. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to offer help to those who are just starting out. If that fails, look for a room or flat to rent for the short-term on a website such as, or Couch Surfing, where regular people will give you their spare room, bed or couch for a much lower cost than any hotel you’ll find. It’s also a great way to meet new people and experience the real city too!

Hostels can also be a good option. However, you may want to look at getting a private room where possible so you don’t have to lock up your life’s belongings every day.

9. Rent Furnished Property

Source: Flickr | Maegan Tintari

When house hunting in your new city, there are two main options that will save you a load of cash:

  1. Flat/House sharing – this is by far the cheapest and easiest way to move abroad. Flat sharing means you move right into a flat or house that already has housemates, furniture, internet, TV, and all the smaller bits and bobs. If your room is furnished then you can literally move right in and enjoy! Less organising, less worry and maximum enjoyment, not to mention it being a great way to meet new people and make some great friends
  2. Renting a furnished flat - Renting a furnished place means you just need to fill it with your personal belongings and probably a few extras for the kitchen, cleaning, etc. Some cities have furnished rentals as standard (e.g. London, New York), whilst others are a little harder to find but not impossible (e.g. Melbourne)

If you can find your rental directly through a private landlord, you’re likely to save some money on agency fees and one-off payments, although be sure to read the contract thoroughly and be careful with your deposit, as there won’t be an agency to protect you against any foul play.

10. Buy Second-Hand

There is a huge number of websites out there dedicated to buying and selling second-hand goods. Get in the mindset of a student, even if you’re not. You’ve just moved abroad, anyone who visits your new home is not going to judge you for having mismatched plates or couches.

Use websites such as GumTree, Freecycle or eBay to pick up great bargains to furnish your new place. Is there a hard rubbish collection coming up? Is someone you know moving? Any local garage sales or flea markets? Don’t hold back. Once you’re settled in with a steady income and have a more permanent home, you can think about slowly replacing your random bargain pieces as you go.

There you have it. Follow these simple tips and you will be surprised how much money you will be able to save. You’ll be living that expat life before you know it.

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