costs of expat living

The ‘hidden costs’ of expat living

Moving and living abroad as an expat is regarded by most who take the plunge as nothing short of an adventure.

But that’s not to say it’s a decision that is to be taken lightly. To do it right, you’ll need to plan well from a financial point of view – and that means setting a budget.

Hidden costs of Expat Living

However, when you’re doing your research and working out what relocating and then living abroad will cost, be aware that there are probably plenty of ‘hidden costs’ that are less obvious and harder to plan for.

Here are three examples.

1. The little luxuries

A survey by the Overseas Guides Company found that it’s the little things that caught many expats by surprise, such as the different costs of cigarettes, alcohol, tipping and a night out at the movies in their new country. It’s easy to plan for the main costs of living, like rent and bills, but it’s the important little luxuries that will get the chop if the going gets tough.

2. No credit

Another hidden cost is that you may struggle to establish your creditworthiness in your new country. You may have great credit at home, and faith that this will transfer somewhere else – but it doesn’t. Not being able to easily secure credit can really ramp up your costs, by needing to put down big deposits for things like securing mobile phone and utility contracts and loans. There may also be higher interest rates and fees on any borrowing you do manage to secure, and you could have to pay big fees on your existing credit cards because you can’t secure a local one.

3. Local knowledge

As a local, you have so much knowledge in your head that actually saves you money. When you need something new in your home, for instance, you instantly know where you can most appropriately buy it – and which stores will have the best deals and which brands offer the best value. When you’re suddenly in a foreign land, however, all that knowledge disappears, and your budget can suffer as you spend too much for things without even knowing better options exist. Not just that, you will find yourself heading to the most obvious place with the most prominent brands – and that means paying too much for everything.

Shane Macfarlane CA
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