22 Financial Tips for New Expats

Moving overseas for work? Here are 22 financial tips that will help you make the most of your money while abroad.

  1. Start saving at least a year before your move, if not sooner. Save at least six months’ living expenses as a safety net.
  2. Ensure to get adequate travel insurance to cover flight delays, lost luggage, and so on.
  3. Bring at least 1.5 times the money you believe you’ll need in the first couple of months.
  4. Ensure to have adequate medical insurance before you go. If not provided by your employer, purchase it yourself.
  5. Set aside an emergency fund to meet unforeseen medical/other expenses in case you don’t have medical insurance.
  6. Don’t get overwhelmed by the difference in currency values. Spend in local currency but also keep track of your spending in your native currency to have a greater understanding of your expenditure.
  7. Open a bank account as soon as you get there.
  8. Set a budget for everything right at the start and keep track weekly through a money management app or the good old spreadsheet.
  9. Learn the local traffic and civic rules to avoid unnecessary penalties and fines.
  10. Meet other expats to make friends and learn tried-and-tested ways to save money on everyday expenses.
  11. Avoid living lavishly at least until you’ve settled into your job.
  12. Put away some money each month for weekend trips to nearby locations.
  13. Buy pre-used furniture and appliances.
  14. Look for deals and discounts when shopping clothes and other items of personal use.
  15. Don’t get drawn into the perceived “expat” lifestyle. Live within your means and spend on essentials.
  16. Loving your new country? Gather information regarding permanent residency to know if you’re eligible to apply. If you’re in the US, apply green card lottery to significantly increase your chances of getting PR in the United States.
  17. Save in your native currency if it means greater savings and less transaction fees.
  18. Get to know the taxation system before you go so that you’ll know how much taxes you’ll be paying based on your expected salary.
  19. Hire a professional to do your taxes—it will be much easier and a lot less stressful.
  20. Don’t close bank accounts in your home country right away. You may need to send money home or may need the account for tax refund, pension, etc.
  21. Know your rights as an employee and an expat to avoid being taken for a ride.
  22. Rent rather than buy, even if you can afford it. Think about purchasing a house once you know you like the country enough to call it your home for a long time.

Once you feel that you’re ready to live in your new country for a long time to come, consider buying a house and also apply for resident status, as it has several financial and other benefits.

Find the best way to apply; for instance, the green card lottery application in the United States has several benefits over the traditional route of gaining PR.