It’s one thing choosing a country to move to with a low cost of living. But what about the process of becoming an expat itself? There are obviously expenses involved, so how do you keep them as low as possible? Here’s our guide to relocating on a budget.

Make a list

And a plan. And set your budget up front. The better prepared you are as regards all the steps you need to take, the better. And the more organized you are, the less likely you are to spend more than you need to.  Planning every step of the way as far in advance as you can is the best overall way to cut the cost of moving abroad.

Arranging to sell or let your current home

If you’re already renting, it’s easier. But if you own a property in your home country you’ll need to either sell it or let it. You need to find out about the tax implications, which differ from country to country. It’s cheaper to do the research online yourself than get professional advice, so give yourself enough time to get to grips with the ins and outs of your rights and responsibilities.

Can you let your home to someone you know and trust? Can someone you know take on the role of a real estate letting agent for you, and save you cash?

Work permits and resident papers

You can hire an emigration expert or, to save money, speak to fellow expats who are already living in your intended new home country. There are plenty of really good expat communities online where you’ll be able to find ‘pen pals’ to give crucial advice.


Shop around for the cheapest and best removals service. Or take the absolute minimum amount of belongings with you and buy what you need once you get there. How do you know which will cost the least? Do your research, again leaving plenty of time.

There are two ways to move your household goods, by air and sea. Shipping by sea is slower and costs less. Look at the cost of both and, if you take the sea route,  don’t forget to factor in money you might have to pay for furnished rentals while you wait for your things to be delivered. However you decide to move your goods, international movers will help with customs forms and will be responsible for clearing your goods through the official channels.

Taking your car

Whether or not your new place of residence is accessible by road, you might want to take your car with you. It can be costly, but it might be cheaper than buying a car in your new country. Again, you need to give yourself enough time to research the most cost-effective option.

You need to know exactly how much it will cost to ship your car and what you need to do to make it happen. Ask for as many quotes as you can. Plenty of companies offer port-to-port car moves and they do all the hard administrative work for you. Just make sure you choose a reputable, established firm.

Cheap flights… or ferries and trains

What is the cheapest way to get to your new home? If you book far enough in advance or leave it to the last minute, there are excellent bargains to be found for cheap flights. It’s also wise to book as far in advance as you can if you’re planning to travel by train or ferry. Yet again, planning carefully and doing the right research can save you a great deal of money.

Moving the family… including furry friends!

Moving your family adds another layer of complication and potential expense. Planning ahead is even more important if you want to make the move as cheaply as possible. Spend time finding out how to make the physical move as quick, efficient and cheap as you can for everyone concerned, including your pets. Do you need to pay for quarantine? Is it cheaper to fly them or ship them? What is the least stressful for them? Can you just take them without any extra paperwork? Every country has different rules and regulations as regards bringing in pets.

What about your tips for a low-cost move?

We would love to share your tips for a low-cost move abroad. Feel free to leave a comment below, or connect with us on Twitter @now_health.