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10 Tips on Cheapest Ways to Move Abroad

Piggy bank

Moving abroad takes a lot of organisation and planning, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some helpful tips on how to move abroad without breaking the bank.

1. Time

Source: Flickr |  Cyril Rana

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 at least 6+ 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 don’t waste any time and start planning your international move, researching and booking as soon as possible.

2. Buying Flights

Flights

The general rule for booking the cheapest flights is: The earlier, the better. Some people prefer to wait due to the theory that there are great last-minute specials on flights, however I don’t recommend this approach for a couple of reasons:

  • There usually aren’t any, in fact they’re normally very 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.

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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 and 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 and 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. Despite what many people believe, budgeting is a skill that has to be learned over time, it doesn’t come naturally to most.

Those who just say they are terrible with money are simply too lazy to change their mindset around. 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 which 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

Source: Flickr | Paul Stocker

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.

We're sure you know the saying ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, so rather than put your belongings into expensive storage, or pack them into boxes taking up too much of someone else’s space, sell them and use the extra funds to top up your savings account.

Whether you set up a market stall, an eBay account, put up photos on Facebook or have a garage sale, there are plenty of ways to sell your things and there’s always buyers out there who need the things that you least expect.

6. Shipping vs. Air freight

Source: Flickr | Daniel Ramirez

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

If you’re moving to another hemisphere where the seasons are turned around, you’re in luck as your clothing is much easier to arrange. 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).

7. Take advantage of your Transit

Source: Flickr | martinak15

It’s not often in your 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 do so 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. It’s almost (sort of) like a holiday that pays for itself, really…

8. Accommodation on Arrival

Source: Flickr | hobvias sudoneighm

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, 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 AirBnB 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 very thoroughly and be extra careful with your deposit, as private landlords can also have the tendency to be slightly sneakier.

10. Buy Second-Hand

Source: Flickr | Kevin Utting

There is a huge number of websites out there dedicated to buying and selling second hand goods. Get in the mind-set of a first year 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? Someone you know is 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.

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