How much does it cost to move abroad?

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How much more expensive is moving overseas?

Moving house is hard work, and it’s not cheap. So, it stands to reason that moving abroad will be even harder work, and more expensive!

But is it? found that almost half the people considering moving abroad from Britain had been put off by the substantial costs involved.

So, are they that substantial?

The quick answer is yes; they certainly can be. Especially if you’re not sure how to go about the move in the most budget-friendly way possible.

Costs to consider

There are a number of costs you’ll need to factor into the move, including:

  • Shipping costs for your items
  • The moving company itself
  • Packaging materials (which will usually be more expensive, as your items will need to be more heavily protected)
  • Any relevant import taxes
  • Your own personal flights/train tickets
  • Education costs

So, just how much more money are you looking at for an international move? Well, according to international removal data from, moving the contents of a 3-bedroom house from Manchester to Brighton, for example, would cost around £1,200. However, moving the same volume of items from Manchester to Alicante would cost £3,500 by road or sea. So, £2,300 more expensive. (The number will, of course, vary substantially depending on where you’re moving to or from).

Of course, these aren’t the only costs you have to consider when looking to move abroad. You naturally have to also look at how much it’s going to cost you day-to-day. Will this be more, or less, expensive than simply moving elsewhere in the UK?

This isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. For instance:

How much more income will you need living in Leeds compared to Fulham?

Or Fulham to Paris?

Or Manchester to New York?

Needless to say, the specific location you’re heading from and the specific location you’re heading to will make far more of a difference than the countries themselves a lot of the time.

The lifestyle

The other major thing to consider in terms of living costs is exactly what kind of lifestyle you’re planning to live once you’ve moved there. A full family home, for instance, will always be comparatively more expensive than a two-person flat, so if you’re like most of the ExpatChild community, you’ll be looking at a higher budget

Are you planning to eat out often, and to pay import prices for those foods and drinks that remind you of home? Are you planning to fly home a lot to visit friends and other family members?

You’ll need to know ALL of these things to tell whether or not you’re going to need more or less money than you do currently.


You’ll need to plan substantially for your children’s education. In the UK, State education costs essentially nothing unless you send your kids to a private school. Unfortunately, depending on where you move to, state education might not even be an option: you may be required to pay fees for a private school. In some countries – the UAE for instance – these can cost upwards of £10,000 per school year.

In Europe, it’s entirely possible you’ll be able to enlist your children in state education, but then – of course – there are language barriers to worry about.

Of course, it may be that you’re emigrating to a country that speaks English as standard, such as the US or Australia. Whatever occurs, it’s vital to do your research to ensure your children feel comfortable in their new location.


It’s obviously vital to ensure that you’ve planned out your healthcare. If you’re moving from the UK, you’re used to there being free or heavily subsidised care in place, but this won’t be the case when you emigrate.

You’ll need to register your children with the relevant health authorities in your chosen country, and you’ll usually be able to claim state-healthcare once you’ve started paying the equivalent of National Insurance contributions.

It’s likely, however, that you’ll incur additional costs for any medical care, especially in the early period after you’ve moved. If you’re moving outside the EU, you will NOT be entitled to any healthcare subsidies: you will be expected to pay for your healthcare, though it will often be possible to purchase insurance.

Financially, you should have money set aside for medical care, just in case. Whether this is for savings or accounted for in your income is down to you, but it’s vital you plan for it in order to avoid risking your family’s health.


Unfortunately, we can’t ignore them (much as we’d like to!) Taxes in your new country are likely to affect how much of your salary you can bring home. In some cases – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bermuda – you pay no income tax at all.

In other cases, you may even be able to deduct moving costs from your taxes: if you move for certain specified reasons and stay for a long enough period.

You’ll also need to look at the benefits system in the country you’re heading to: if you’re currently claiming any form of child benefit you’ll need to check how this will be affected.

Inevitably, you’ll have noticed that a lot of whether moving abroad is more expensive will come down to your individual circumstances. Someone moving from London to a family home to Shanghai will save money, assuming their income is the same. A family moving from Wolverhampton to New York will lose money, assuming their income stays the same.

The important thing is to plan your move to the exact details. Know your income, your taxes, what your planned outgoings will be. Get detailed quotes from a number of moving firms in order to get the best rates.

Plan carefully!

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  1. Pretty much spot-on! I would add one after thought, however. We learned as non-EEA citizens on a student visa our children were not permitted to use state education in Ireland. It was a surprise encountered AFTER we had already moved. We then found ourselves in a county that didn’t even have any private primary school options, and we are now commuting 45 min to and from (and on two different dismissal schedules) our daughters’ primary school and paying 40,000 euros more than anticipated for our four years here. I detailed the experience on my blog. To say it was a nightmare would be an understatement, as my children and I nearly faced deportation, while my husband was cleared and due to begin his phd.

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