Saving Money to Move Abroad


One of the biggest questions I’m asked about moving abroad (aside from the big WHY?!), is how did I manage to save money to actually pack it in and head across the pond.  Let me tell you, it was the cliché “change your lifestyle” bs.  Without taking on a second job, I couldn’t bring in more money than I already earned, and I didn’t want to take on a second job.  I had to think of ways I knew I could save money and alternative ways to make money (no, I didn’t start doing dodgy shit).

The first thing I did was make the honest decision: I’m moving abroad.   Then I decided when I was going to do it.  I knew I’d need about a year to actually get my head wrapped around it, and to save enough money to go, so I arbitrarily picked a date and started to work backwards from that to see how much per month I needed to save.  As I was managing a massive annual event at work in June, I knew I didn’t want to leave before then.  I wanted to make sure I facilitated the event & that it was successful, before I left the company.   As such, I picked my departure date as a rough, middle of June 2015.

The next thing I did was review the visa requirements.  I was planning to move to England on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa.  At the time, I was required to have about $3500 in cash in my bank account as part of the visa process + all the visa fees + the cost of flights + the cost of living in the UK.

I estimated that I wanted to have about $18,000 in savings that I could allocate specifically to moving / the visa.  From there, it meant that I would need to raise more than $1000/month in order to make the move happen.

I broke this down even further because realistically, I knew I would never save $1000 per month.  I had an apartment + bills + still wanted to have a semblance of a social life.  What did I know would be guaranteed (read: likely to happen) income over the next year that I could count on?

I knew I would be selling everything I owned.  Based on what I thought I could get for all of my worldly possessions (literally everything I owned bar one suitcase, one backpack and a large box I’d leave at my mum’s), I figured I could save about £2000.

I knew I would sell my car.  I figured I’d break even on that.  I made $300.

I knew I would get profit sharing from my company the year before I was going to leave (but not in the year I left).  I knew I would get a few grand.

I knew I would have holidays that would have to be bought back from me by my company.  I estimated I could possibly get a grand.

Leading up to a major annual work event, my boss agreed to pay me overtime for a reasonable amount of extra hours I was putting in.   I mentally added this to the account.

I knew if I cut back on my monthly drinking / going out to dinner with friends, I would easily save $450 / month.  I instantly emailed payroll and asked that that pay my wages into 2 accounts.  I figured out what I needed to live on and what I could do without.  The “what I could do without” funds went to a separate e-account that I didn’t really have a whole lot of access to.   I then increased the $450 to $700 once the $450 became easy to live without.

13 months before I was due to leave, I moved out of my uptown apartment and into the suburbs.  I figured if I was inconvenienced by having to travel uptown to go out, I would go out a lot less.  This is very, very true and it worked.


What did I think I needed before I left?  $18,000

What did I save:

Selling My Furniture                                                $2800

Profit Share / OT / Holiday Pay Out:                      $5700

Monthly Savings:                                                       $8600

Miscellaneous extra savings:                                  $1800

Total:                                                                            $18900

Before I left, I actually was able to save an additional few hundred dollars just by completely cutting things out – no shopping, no coffee, no drinking, no takeaways.
The three best things I did to save money:

  1. Set up a separate bank account that I had limited access to and that payroll was putting regular savings into. I knew monthly that my salary was being split for me into savings and into what I needed to live off of.  Once the new amount being deposited into my every day account was comfortable, I moved more into my e-account I didn’t have access to.
  2. At the end of every month, whatever I had left in my every day account, even if it was only $1, I moved it to my e-savings account. I made a conscious effort that any extra money I had was transferred into my moving abroad account.
  3. Figure out my priorities. I didn’t need to live uptown, so I moved to the suburbs.  By doing that, it immediately changed my lifestyle which meant an immediate effect on my bank account.  I could see more money in my account each month.  By not going out 3-4 nights a week for dinner / drinks, I instantly had several hundred extra dollars a month available.  Knowing that I was moving abroad and couldn’t take a lot of stuff with me meant that I stopped clothes shopping.  It also meant that I didn’t buy anything for my house I didn’t need as I knew I would just have to get rid of it.

Being mentally prepared to move started with being financially prepared.  Knowing I was embarking on a major life changing journey meant I needed to be prepared for it.  I didn’t want to half ass it and end up on this side of the pond struggling.  What if I didn’t find work?  What if an emergency occurred?  How would I survive?

All of those questions, coupled with how badly I wanted to move, made saving easy.

What are you saving tips?  Have you ever had to quickly come up with a large amount of money?  How did you do it?


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