One of the dreams that many people have is to spend some time overseas. I was a foreign exchange student once, and I really enjoyed the brief taste of life in another country. In our ever-shrinking world, the opportunities to live in a new country — temporarily or permanently — are increasing. However, before you move to another country, it is a good idea to understand just what such a move will take in terms of your money.

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Preparing Your Finances for a Move Overseas

A recent RBC poll revealed that Canadian immigrants are surprised at how much things cost when the move. New Canadians, according to this poll, find it difficult to manage their personal finances in such a new place. I’d wager, though, that it isn’t just immigrants to Canada that find it difficult to manage their finances in a new environment; anytime you move there are financial considerations. If you are moving to a new country, those considerations could be even greater.

When moving to a new country, some of your money considerations should include:

  • Getting to that country.
  • Shipping some of your household items to that country.
  • Selling a lot of your household items. (And buying replacements upon your arrival.)
  • Deciding whether to sell your home (you may need a lot of time to do this), or whether to rent it out to someone you trust. If your residence elsewhere will be relatively short-term, you might just get a house-sitter.
  • Storage for your household possessions if your move is meant to be temporary.
  • Paying for travel documents and other bureaucratic necessities.
  • Finding a job (if you aren’t moving because you have a job).
  • Finding a bank that can handle your personal finances.
  • Figuring out how much of your capital needs to be exchanged for the local currency, or deciding whether or not to use a credit card and pay those fees instead.
  • Looking for — and probably paying for — a school for your children. (You could home school as well.)

Moving Your Money

Whenever you move, whether you remain in your home country or move overseas, you will need to make sure you are prepared to move your money. This might include finding a bank that you can access in your new home, and going through all of the actions that will shift your automatic debits and direct deposits into your new account. However, in this world of global and online banking, it might be possible to manage your finances from afar, keeping your current account and transferring money when necessary to keep things running smoothly. If you plan to live in a new country for a substantial period of time, though, it is a good idea to have some sort of local bank — especially if you will be doing work that includes being paid in the local currency.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. You want to make sure that all of your documents are in order, and that your mail will be properly forwarded. Contact your most important accounts directly to apprise them of the situation, so that they know how to reach you while you are living in a different country.

And, of course, as you move, keep in mind the basics of financial planning while you are in your new home. Continue to live within your means, tracking your spending and sticking to a budget while building up your emergency fund. And always assume that you are underestimating what it will cost to live in another country. You will find that you are more prepared for unexpected expenses if you have taken the time to get your money ready for a new country.