How to save money to move overseas — moving abroad may cost more than you think

I saved enough money to move to Bangkok, Thailand by doing the following things. You can move to the country you are interested in by doing the same

Many people decide to move overseas, spend a few months saving up to do so, and then pack up their bags and go.

A large percentage of them are quickly surprised at how expensive it can be moving abroad when they get there, and how many unexpected expenses they are soon faced with.

When you consider just the move abroad itself is expensive — airfare, visas, accommodation, transportation, work permits, furniture and sundry items you will need to settle in — it is probably not surprising when you learn you should save at least double what you planned to save before you actually move.

That is why you may want to take notice of some of the things you can do to save money for a move overseas, months before you pack and actually leave.

If you do, you can then leave for your new country knowing you should be able to survive for several months. No matter what may happen when you get there.

How much money do you need to move to a new country?

When I was moving to Thailand, I calculated what the average cost of living was in Bangkok, figured out how much I would need for at least my first six months living there — and then doubled it.

By doing that, I not only knew I could easily pay for all the things I would need in coming months, including the airfare and the first few days in a hotel until I found an apartment, then apartment rent, deposit and other living expenses — I also knew I would have plenty of money should a catastrophe occur. (It didn’t!)

Related: How much money will you need to live a comfortable lifestyle in Bangkok, Thailand?

Do the same for the new country you plan on living in, and that is the financial goal you are aiming for when you follow these tips.

Pay off your debts

You do not want to be saddled with any debt when you move overseas, which is why you should pay off all your debts first.

This often means credit card bills, consolidation loans, school loans and any loans you may have taken from family and friends.

After all, in many countries in the world, you will end up making less money than you did in your home country. Especially if you are moving from a western country to one in Asia, Africa or South America.

Work as much as you can to pay off all your debts. Then, once you are debt-free, start socking money away to take with you when you leave.

For most people, being debt-free immediately means access to hundreds of dollars more in disposable income every month. Income you can spend to make your move abroad easier, and money you can spend on getting settled when you get there.

Pay off your credit cards by consolidating them and getting a lower interest rate.  Then stop using them for anything that is not an outright emergency.

After all, you do not need that book, movie, Starbucks coffee or any of the thousands of other things people often buy in an attempt to find ‘short-term happiness’.

Save that money for your move overseas instead, and you will have more cash to spend exploring your new country when you get there.

While it is nice to have coffee in a cool coffee shop, you will waste hundreds of dollars a month if you do it every day

Look closely at where you spend money

When I was saving for a move to Thailand, I calculated how much I spent every month on things I did not need. One of them was over $200 a month on coffee drinks/muffins at my local coffee chain.

Once I realized that, I immediately cut out all coffee and muffins, except for a treat trip every second Sunday. That meant I cut my coffee shop visits down from 30 a month to two, helping me save over $185 a month in the process — or more than $1,100 in the six months before I left for Thailand .

Money I then spent on buying household accessories for my new flat when I arrived in Bangkok.

If you want to save money for a move overseas, assess where you waste money first and then stop spending it.

Do you spend too much on coffee, books you don’t need, trips to the movie theater, meals out with friends or too many drinks after work?

Many people can cut their budgets by more than $500 a month by just cutting out small expenses they do not need to spend. Expenses that could help you save an extra $3,000 to $5,000 in just the few months before you leave for your new home.

Stop paying for membership fees

Many people stop paying for gym memberships, monthly Netflix fees, memberships to anime streaming sites, food delivery clubs, book clubs, VPN services and other membership programs when they are saving for a move abroad.

When I knew I was moving to Thailand, the first thing I canceled was my cable bill.

With tens of millions of free YouTube videos, thousands of movies and TV shows to watch online for free, and anime series from places like Crunchyroll completely free as well, I saved $630 before I left for Bangkok just by canceling my cable subscription.

Calculate how much you spend on monthly membership fees, and you may be surprised that just a few months worth of not paying for them could pay your rent in a city like Bangkok, Thailand, Hanoi, Vietnam, Mexico City, Mexico, Quito, Ecuador or Warsaw, Poland for a YEAR!

Pay for things in cash

An easy and very effective tip you can follow when saving money for a move overseas is to pay for everything with cash.

When you use a credit card, it is easy to not notice what you spend. Draw money out of your bank account and pay for everything in cash, however, and you will notice quickly when it has all been spent.

Stop eating out

When you can make breakfast at home for under a dollar, or dinner at home for around a euro, why are you still spending $10/€10/£10 every day eating out?

Eating meals and snacks out is how most people waste the most money. Cook your meals at home, and you could save upwards of $500/€500/£500 a month on unnecessary restaurant meals.

Only buy necessary insurance

Too many people spend thousands of dollars a year on insurance they will never need. Especially if they are under 50 years of age.

Look at the insurance policies you currently pay for and decide if you need them.

Do you have a life insurance policy and are single? If so, who do you plan on leaving that money to if anything happens to you and does that person really need it? If not, cancel the policy, get the money back you can and save both it and your no-longer-being-paid premiums for your move overseas.

Do you need an expensive health insurance policy that still doesn’t cover you for half of the care you would need in an emergency? If you do, cut it down to the bare minimum with the understanding that, if you move overseas from America for instance, your health care will be cheaper by magnitudes and, in many cases, will be much better as well.

Are your car insurance premiums too high? Are you paying too much to insure a car that isn’t worth much?

If so, again, cut your car insurance down to what will cover the value of the car and cover yourself should you have an accident and someone decide to sue you.

Tens of thousands of car owners waste thousands of dollars/pounds/euros every year on car insurance. Money that could be socked away for your move abroad instead.

Sell your belongings

You may not realize how many things you own that you do not need.

When I made my move from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand, I sold everything I owned in a yard sale and on Craig’s List, except for what fit in six small boxes that I then stored in my parents’ attic and two suitcases that went with me. (I was moving to Thailand and setting up home in an apartment in Bangkok, and not traveling around, so I took more things with me than would a person who plans to do a lot of traveling).

By just selling all the furniture in a one-bedroom apartment, all my books, DVDs, computer games (except for a few favorites of each), kitchen supplies, home accessories, some of my clothing and shoes etc, I was able to make over $7,500 to take with me.

By the time I got to Bangkok, I had $18,000 from the sale of all my belongings plus my car. That money paid for everything I needed in Bangkok for a YEAR, including the airfare to get there, the cost of visas and work permits, rent, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, toiletries, sundry fun shopping trips and meals out with new friends, and even for a couple of week-long vacations to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore.

Yes, I got a job when I arrived in Thailand but…the fact is, I had enough money with me that I didn’t need to worry if I couldn’t have found one quickly.

Pick up a second job

If you really want some extra cash for your move overseas, consider picking up a second job. It doesn’t have to be an evening job either, as you could work a Saturday or Sunday job, or even work extra hours from home.

I am a writer/journalist by trade, so I picked up some extra writing jobs via an agency I occasionally write through when I was planning my move to Thailand.

Just writing an extra 10 articles/blog posts allowed me to save an extra $8.300 in the last couple of months before I left. Money that I then put in my emergency fund should I ever need it in Thailand (I didn’t!).

Think about walking dogs in your neighborhood, working at a coffee shop a couple of nights a week, being a pet sitter for people going on holiday or away on business, tutoring students in your area or people who need to learn the language you speak.

You could also rent out your services as a social media manager, sell products on eBay or Amazon, do some freelance proofreading, paint houses, or offer out your services moving lawns or doing yard work.

There are hundreds of things you can do that only require a short-term commitment, yet could mean the difference between having to be frugal when you get to your new country and having money to travel, eat out or have drinks with friends and even shop.

Save, save, save

Finally, look at every purchase you are planning on making it before you make it and decide “Do I really need to buy this $30 shirt, or is it more important to save that money for my move to Austria/Brazil/Malaysia/South Africa/Wherever you want to live?”

In most cases, you will realize you don’t.

Then put that money into your savings account, and you are one step further to achieving y our dream of moving and living overseas.

Now, watch the excellent video from Patti below, who saved money to move to France at the age of just 19.