Thinking of upping sticks and heading overseas? How exciting. Allow us to explain the 12 key costs of moving abroad, from shipping and insuring your belongings to paying for flights and bagging a visa.
And if you're starting to feel overwhelmed, take a breath and download our handy moving abroad checklist to make sure you've got everything covered.
When it comes to moving your things abroad, costs can add up quickly. Want to steer clear of a hefty price tag? Try using our custom-built tool to get the best deal on tailored shipping quotes.
It couldn’t be easier – simply pop in a few quick details about your trip, and our trusted suppliers will be in touch shortly with their best prices on offer.
What's on this page?
01 | Shipping your belongings
02 | Packing and unpacking
03 | Removals insurance
04 | Hiring storage space
05 | Transferring money abroad
06 | Buying a new property
07 | Paying customs duty
08 | Getting a visa
09 | Booking flights
10 | Moving your pets
11 | Buying new furniture
Staying in the same country all your life is overrated, so if you’re thinking of moving abroad then we’re very excited for you! There’s nothing like immersing yourself in a different culture; everything is new and challenging, but it’s a life-changing experience.
However, there’s a bit of thinking and planning to do before you can get to the fun stuff. International removals aren’t free, and we’d like to guide you through the 12 key costs of moving abroad.
Once you know about these, you can start budgeting for your move and get the ball rolling.
Unloading cargo at the Port of Miami, USA
1. Shipping your belongings
Let’s start with the obvious one. Moving abroad almost always involves bringing a few belongings with you, ranging from a couple of boxes to the contents of a five-bedroom house. You could eliminate this cost entirely by just taking a rucksack, but it’s rare that someone sets off completely empty handed. There are five key things that determine how expensive your shipping costs will be:
- The type of transportation (sea freight or air freight)
- How much you bring (the volume or weight of your goods)
- The journey distance (more miles means more money)
- The destination port (customs duties will vary)
- The time of year (peak season vs low season)
Take a look at our wonderful guide to international container shipping costs, complete with flashy maps and stacks of helpful info.
Estimated cost: Anything from to , depending on the variables above. Use our form at the top of the page to compare removal quotes. Fill in your details and you’ll get accurate, personal quotations from our shipping suppliers.
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
2. Packing and unpacking
Preparing all your belongings for an international shipment is a big task; you need lots of sturdy materials, a detailed plan and some strong arms.
Fortunately, most shipping companies offer professional packing and unpacking as part of their service (along with the loading and unloading of your container), so you can breathe easy. They also provide all the materials you’ll need, from industrial shrink wrap to good old-fashioned cardboard boxes.
If you fancy a challenge, doing your own packing and loading will save you some money, but the option to use professionals is always there. Either way, your furniture deserves looking after.
For more information, head to our page on moving furniture abroad, where we go into some serious detail about how to pack your belongings.
Estimated cost: Fees for a professional packing/unpacking and loading/unloading service generally start at about for half a 20ft container (15 cubic meters), but more cargo means higher prices.
Packing everything yourself can easily cut costs by over 50%, depending on where you source your materials from. You can get large corrugated cardboard boxes for as little as per box, while ten-metre rolls of bubble wrap come in at about .
3. Removals insurance
Insurance is obviously a cost you can bypass if you’re a risk taker, but we don’t recommend it. Spend a bit of money on protecting your cargo during transit and everything will be a lot less stressful. Ocean freight has certainly become much safer over the years, what with digital container tracking and strict regulation from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), but it’s never going to be perfectly smooth sailing. Shipping containers can tilt by up to 30 degrees during their journey over the sea, so that’s a lot of slipping and sliding if things aren’t packed properly.
Most shipping companies include basic insurance cover as part of their service, but it doesn’t go very far. That’s why we recommend you pay for extra cover or just take out a separate policy that’s much more comprehensive.
Visit our breakdown of international removals insurance for more guidance.
Estimated cost: Quotes from cargo insurance companies are based entirely on the monetary value of your goods, not the volume or weight. Most removals insurance policies normally cost between 0.6% and 4% of the total declared value of your goods. To insure cargo worth £40,000 (the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house, as estimated by Admiral Insurance) travelling from the UK to Australia, it would cost about to . Lower value goods and shorter distances will naturally incur cheaper premiums.
A container ship sails at sunset
A free moving overseas checklist to download
Make sure you're well prepared before you move
4. Hiring storage space
Renting storage space is like getting a new apartment for your furniture, except you’re not allowed to stay.
There are two reasons you might need to hire some storage space: one, if you’re flying out ahead of your shipment date and your cargo needs a place to wait, and two, if you’re leaving stuff behind that you’d like to keep for when you return (if you ever want to return). Some furniture will have to come with you, some will get sold, and the rest will be in that annoying third category of ‘can’t bring but can’t get rid of’. If you don’t have any friends or relatives who’ll take something off your hands, this is when hired storage space comes in handy.
To learn more, check out our page (and video) about international storage. Yes, it’s very exciting.
Estimated cost: Prices for storage units are based on the size of the space you’re hiring, generally measured in square feet. A 100 sq ft storage space (approximately equivalent to the contents of a two-bedroom house) will cost about per month in the UK, while costs can reach over $200 per month in popular US cities like Los Angeles. Most storage companies apply a discount if you use them for long periods.
5. Transferring money abroad
We really do recommend you bring some money with you. Thankfully, in the modern world you don’t have to ship a 20ft container full of cash. You can send it all electronically, but international money transfers come at a cost.
However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, an easy-to-use online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees.
How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.
Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.
6. Buying a new property
You’ll need somewhere to live in your new country, so the cost of buying (or renting) a house is unavoidable. Unless you’ve been lucky enough to inherit a house from a distant relative in a foreign country, this isn’t really a cost you can ignore.
Once you’ve decided on a country and a city to move to, you then need to know about the best neighbourhoods. Speaking to people on expat forums is a great way to do this research, and you can learn lots about living in a foreign city before you move there. Local estate agents will also be able to help you, although their services will obviously come with a fee.
Check out our list of the best places for buying overseas property. If you’re new to the property market, we’ve also ranked the best and worst countries for first-time buyers.
Estimated cost: Trying to estimate the typical cost of a house around the world would be rather silly – although when it comes to the UK and the US, the results are remarkably similar. The average house price in England in 2020 was £256,000, while in the US it was $284,000. If you’re looking to buy a flat in a city, we recommend you check out Finder’s ‘Cost of a City Centre Flat Around the World 2020’ – it comes with a lovely interactive map.
7. Paying customs duty
Customs duty is basically a tax on everything that’s coming into a country. Rates vary between countries and they’re rarely included in shipping companies’ prices, so you need to allow for additional fees when you’re looking at sea freight quotes. Customs duties are great for protecting domestic economies but they’re a real pain when you’re the one paying them.
Fortunately, most countries have duty-free policies for people who are importing used household goods for personal use. There are a bunch of specific requirements (that vary from country to country) but ultimately a shipment of furniture for your new house is likely to avoid high duty rates. Australia and the USA, for example, both have duty-free policies for household goods. However, there are certain things that will never escape customs duty, such as motor vehicles.
Allow us to explain in more detail…
Estimated cost: Rates can range from 0% – 100% of an item’s purchased value, depending on what it is and where it’s going. This sounds scary, but the global average for customs duties is just 2.59%.
Select the size of your move to get free quotes
8. Getting a visa
Getting all your belongings through customs is one thing, but you need to get yourself through, too. Every country comes with specific visa requirements, so you should make sure you can satisfy them before planning a big move abroad. Obviously there are certain visa exemption arrangements between countries that get along with each other, but most of these arrangements are only helpful to short-term travellers, not permanent movers.
If you have a family member from the country you want to move to then you’re in luck; most family-based visas are much easier to acquire than employment-based ones. Otherwise, you’ll most likely have to find a job in a new country before you can move there permanently. It’s a time-consuming process but it’s vital if you’re serious about moving abroad.
We’ve got a wealth of information about visas for all of our most popular routes. If you’re moving from the UK, perhaps you’ll want to read our guides to visas for the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Alternately, if you’re moving to the UK, we have pages on UK visas from the USA and from Australia.
Estimated cost: Visa fees vary widely depending on what you’re applying for and where you want to move. For example, the fees for the most common employment-based US visa are around , while the equivalent visa for Australia costs about . Those looking to move to the UK on the General Worker Visa will have to pay between and depending on the length of their stay. Meanwhile, moving between EU countries is almost always free.
And if you want a comprehensive to-do list, just download our handy moving abroad checklist to make sure you've got everything covered.
Colourful houses in Burano, Italy
9. Booking flights
Moving to a new country normally involves more than one flight. You’ll probably want to pay one or two visits to a country before you decide on permanently moving there so you can get a feel for what it’s like. If you need an employment-based visa for your new country, you may have to fly there for an interview. Likewise, you might want to see a house in person before deciding to buy or rent it. Going on multiple international flights sounds expensive but it’s necessary. It’s better than moving straight away and then hating your new country.
Estimated cost: Skyscanner recommend that you should buy plane tickets about 18 weeks in advance for long-haul flights and seven weeks in advance for short-haul flights. With this in mind, one-way flights from the UK to New York should cost around and one-way flights from the UK to Sydney should cost around .If you’re booking in enough advance, no long-haul flight should cost more than around .On Skyscanner, go for the ‘Compare across a whole month’ option to find the cheapest day to travel.
10. Moving your pets
If you’ve decided that your dog or cat (or anything else) really must come with you, they need a plane ticket too. Apart from the really small ones, most pets have to travel in the plane’s cargo hold. Don’t worry, it’s a special pressurised and air-conditioned part of the plane – the dogs aren’t in the same place as the suitcases. Along with the cost of the flight, there are a few other things that you’ll have to pay for:
- Vaccinations (eg. rabies)
- Pet passport
- IATA-approved travel crate
This is a fairly big subject, so we’ve created a very detailed page about international pet relocation costs. It’s got loads of helpful information, price tables, pet requirements for many different countries and some cracking dog photos.
Estimated cost: It usually costs between and to move a cat abroad while dogs are more expensive, with fees typically ranging between and . These costs depend on several things, such as the breed and size of the animal and its individual veterinary requirements.
Wondering how much relocating your pet is actually going to cost you? It depends on lots of variables, so it makes sense to get a quote that's tailored to you.
We recommend Starwood Pet Travel – experts who can help you with the whole process, from documentation and travel crates to flights and safe transit. Simply fill in this form and they'll get back to you with a quote.
A Rhodesian Ridgeback dog sits on a sofa
11. Buying new furniture
You’re unlikely to bring all your belongings with you to a new country, even if you wanted to, simply because some things won’t be allowed and some things won’t work.
Each country has a different voltage system, which makes certain electronic appliances (eg. fridges, washing machines) incompatible once they move countries. For example, the voltage in the UK is a mighty 240V while in the US it’s only 120V, so many electronic appliances bought in the UK will not have enough power in the States. A voltage converter can help in certain cases, but sometimes you’ll just have to buy new/second-hand and leave your old stuff behind.
Similarly, if you’re moving to a very hot or humid country then you might want to leave some of your valuable wooden furniture behind. Wood is sensitive to the weather and very old or very thin furniture might suffer in the heat.
Estimated cost: The costs will vary hugely, depending on what you’re buying and where you’re buying it. Check out international sites such as eBay and Craigslist for second-hand furniture and electronic appliances to save on buying everything new. If you’re planning on leaving some furniture behind and buying second hand items (or even new items!) when you’re out there, it makes sense to put aside a few hundred pounds, possibly £400-500.
We hope we haven’t taken away all of your excitement. It’s a long and fairly overwhelming list but nothing you can’t navigate. We think it’s important to have a realistic idea of all the international moving costs so you can budget and prepare properly. Fortunately, there are loads of ways to save money along the way, from cutting down on the furniture you bring to booking flights well in advance. If all these prices have scared you, remember that moving to a new country is a brilliant, mind-blowing experience and you can’t put a price on that.
If you want to keep down the costs when shipping your things abroad, make sure to compare at least three quotes. This way, you can rest assured you’re getting the best deal.
Want to speed up this process? Our custom-built quote tool can get you in touch with expert suppliers, who will then provide you with free quotes. It’s never been easier to find the best shipping prices!
What is the average cost of moving internationally? ›
However, international moving costs are more than a plane ticket; your expenses can include moving services, visa and immigration fees, temporary housing, expat health insurance, and potentially storage. The average cost of international moving is approximately $1000 to $10,000 USD.What is the cheapest way to move belongings overseas? ›
Ocean freight is the cheaper option for intercontinental moves, and roughly 90% of international moving customers use ocean shipping. However, it's also slower than air freight. On average, international moves by ocean take six to eight weeks.How much does it cost to move from the US to the UK? ›
Quick answer: The cost of moving to London from the US averages $3000 to $7000. The size of your move and service are the most significant cost factors when moving abroad. However, the time of year and mover you choose can also affect the cost.What is the cheapest country to move to from the US? ›
And you don't need to go broke while living and working there, because Costa Rica is one of the cheapest countries to live in for Americans. Bargain flights from the US can also be found easily, making a trip to Costa Rica even more attractive.
3. How much does it cost to Renounce U.S. Citizenship? The government fee to renounce U.S. citizenship is $2,350.How do I ship personal belongings internationally? ›
The most common and cost-efficient way to transport household belongings to a new country is by shipping via sea freight. The costs associated with sea freight movement typically include container hire and transport fees. They can vary widely depending on the weight and size of your belongings.How do I pack my house for an international move? ›
- Always insist on using strong boxes to pack the fragile items.
- Make sure the bottom of the box has additional tape to prevent opening when lifted.
- Wrap all fragile items individually in bubble wrap or packing paper.
The most common method of transporting your belongings overseas is by ship. While this method takes longer than by plane, it is significantly cheaper and can carry heavier loads. If you intend on moving with lots of heavy furniture and boxes, your best option is by sea freight.Is it cheaper to live in Europe or America? ›
Europe is cheaper than the U.S. based on variables such as prices of goods and services, exchange rates, and market conditions. Several quantitative indicators verify that Europe is cheaper, yet some important factors account for higher costs in some circumstances.Can Americans move freely in Europe? ›
Will U.S. citizens need a visa for Europe? American citizens are currently granted entry into Europe without a visa. For this reason, they do not need to check visa requirements. This only applies to short-term trips, so if US nationals decide to move to Europe permanently, they need to obtain the relevant visa first.
Is it hard for a US citizen to move to Europe? ›
Most European countries have difficult paths to residency but don't worry, there are still plenty of countries with long-term living options. There are 16 European countries that are easiest for U.S. citizens to move to, including popular destinations like Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia.Can a retired U.S. citizen move to the UK? ›
Although the UK government recently closed its retirement visa program, it's still possible to retire in the UK through other visa types. Here's how to do so and how to weigh the financial implications of retiring outside the United States. A financial advisor can help you plan for retirement, wherever it may take you.Is it cheaper to live in the US or UK? ›
Although the latest statistics from the World Population Review rank the United States as a slightly more expensive country to live in than the UK, it is important to note that this is on average, and the cost of living varies widely across the USA.Can Americans move to the UK permanently? ›
You can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) after five years residence, as long as you have not been absent from the UK for more than a 180 days in each of the five years. We provide a full service to support Investors moving to the UK, including tax advice.What is the easiest country for a US citizen to move to? ›
Which are the easiest countries to immigrate to from the US? Portugal, Malta and Spain are some of the easiest countries to relocate to from the United States. American citizens can either gain permanent residency or apply for citizenships via each country's Citizenship by Invest programs.What country are most US citizens moving to? ›
Mexico is the top destination for Americans moving abroad, followed by the U.K., Canada and Australia. So far in 2022, ~75% more Americans have moved to Mexico than Canada. Portugal has seen the biggest percentage increase in Americans moving in (+122% from 2019-2021)What is the easiest country to relocate to? ›
- 1 – United States. The U.S. is arguably one of the best countries to immigrate to and can be one of the easiest, depending on your profession. ...
- 2 – Canada. ...
- 3 – Germany. ...
- 4 – Australia. ...
- 5 – Portugal.
Absences of more than 365 consecutive days
You must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) before you leave the United States, or your permanent residence status will be considered abandoned. A re-entry permit enables you to be abroad for up to two years. Apply for a re-entry permit.
If you're planning to move out of the US permanently, or even give up your US citizenship, then you need a second passport. You can move to certain countries for 5 years and then apply for citizenship, or you can buy a passport and have it in hand in 90 days to 8 months.What is the cheapest state to leave in? ›
Mississippi is the cheapest place to live in the United States, with a cost of living 15.6% lower than the national average.
What items Cannot be mailed internationally? ›
- Air Bags.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Dry Ice.
Shipping clothes internationally
Shipping clothes overseas can be done cheaply using our discounted international courier services. Large and heavy boxes of t-shirts, shoes, dresses and more are frequently shipped to all corners of the world using our low-cost courier services.
With international shipping, clothes are easy to handle: There are no shipping restrictions on shipping clothes. Also, lower package weight allows for better rates, which makes this category one of the most profitable in shipping.How long does it take to pack for an international move? ›
Making an international move can take between one and three months, including: The time it takes us to find a home in the destination country that meets our needs, the preparation of a moving list with the furniture and belongings we want to take with us, the packing of the belongings, the shipping and delivery of the ...What should I look for in international movers? ›
Checking if your chosen companies are certified international movers or hold memberships of professional associations or other independent accreditations is a great way to check if they are reputable. This helps you gain peace of mind knowing that you're reducing the risk of losing everything to a rogue trader.Can you keep your US bank account if you move abroad? ›
If you are moving overseas permanently, you will need to eventually set up an account with a local bank. But if you are only there temporarily (which can still mean several years) and you are maintaining a US address, you may be able to get by using your stateside bank, depending on your banking needs.How hard is it to move internationally? ›
International moving can be difficult. Finding a job in another country is even more challenging. Work permits are difficult to obtain, and even harder if you're in a two-income household; some countries only allow one spouse to be employed.What is the cheapest and safest country to live in? ›
- Costa Rica.
Monaco is the most expensive country to live in, with a cost of living of $3,585 per month. Other expensive countries to live in include the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and Singapore, all of which have a cost of living of over $2,000 per month.What is the best European country for an American to move to? ›
If you can handle the cold, Germany and the Netherlands are two of the most popular countries for expats, both offering international communities and unique residency options. Switzerland: Although many European countries offer a better quality of life than the U.S., Switzerland takes the cake.
What is the easiest European country to move to from USA? ›
Sweden. Sweden has some of the most permissive citizenship regulations in Europe, with no language requirements for new Swedes and only a five-year residency time required to become a Swedish citizen.What countries do not accept U.S. passport? ›
What countries do not accept U.S. passport? The only destination where it is forbidden for US citizens to travel to is North Korea, due to its closed border status for both US citizens and citizens of other countries.How long can you live in Europe as a US citizen? ›
With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.Can I retire in Europe as an American? ›
US citizens can retire in Europe if they meet the eligibility criteria for retirement. Once the criteria are met, you need to apply for a long-stay visa to be allowed to stay in the country of your choice for a long-term period.Which European country is the easiest to move to? ›
For those looking into short-term relocation, Portugal is a great option. The country recently launched a short-stay visa for seasonal work. Under the Portuguese Work Visa, workers are allowed to stay and work in the country for up to nine months and can work for more than one company, provided it's a seasonal job.Can I move to Europe without a job? ›
Yes, it is possible to move to Europe without a job! The process won't be the easiest one, but if you really want to move to Europe, then that should motivate you to get through the harder parts without giving up.What is the number 1 place to retire in the world? ›
Can I Collect Social Security if I Live Outside the U.S.? If you are a U.S. citizen and qualify for Social Security retirement, family, survivor or disability benefits, you can receive your payments while living in most other countries.What is the easiest country to retire to? ›
Portugal has ranked as the best country to retire to in the world for four years in a row, with this year scoring a staggering 87.43 out of 100 points. In addition, the following categories scored: Housing: 74. Healthcare: 92.What is the average salary in the UK vs USA? ›
Average Salary in the US vs. the UK. The average salary in the U.S. in 2021 was around $58,260 across all occupations. In the U.K., the average salary in 2021 was about $38,291 when converted to dollars.
Is healthcare free in the UK? ›
The United Kingdom provides public healthcare to all permanent residents, about 58 million people. Healthcare coverage is free at the point of need, and is paid for by general taxation. About 18% of a citizen's income tax goes towards healthcare, which is about 4.5% of the average citizen's income.Why are American houses so big and cheap? ›
But over the course of the 20th century, government policy, the invention of cheaper, mass-produced building materials, marketing by home builders, and a shift in how people regarded their houses—not just as homes, but as financial assets—encouraged ever larger houses.How much does it cost to ship furniture from US to UK? ›
Moving from USA to UK Shipping Cost
In fact, the average cost of shipping household goods to the UK from the USA is between $4,000 and $10,500. However, there are many American things you can't buy in the UK, so it may be worth the added expense. But don't worry; Three Movers is here to help.
You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities. You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.How much does it cost to move to the UK from the US? ›
Quick answer: The cost of moving to London from the US averages $3000 to $7000. The size of your move and service are the most significant cost factors when moving abroad. However, the time of year and mover you choose can also affect the cost.Is moving abroad really worth it? ›
No matter what your reason is, living abroad is worth it; if not for the numerous benefits –– like making life-long international friends and having better career prospects –– then at least for unearthing what you don't like and what you're capable of doing on your own.What are typical relocation costs? ›
The full costs and figures can vary depending on the individual and their package however, as an example, payments are typically between $2,000 and $100,000.Is moving overseas a good idea? ›
Moving overseas can dramatically change your life for the better. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why people decide to move to another country. Living overseas can offer new opportunities, new lifestyles, new careers and a new direction.What is the disadvantage of moving abroad? ›
The disadvantages of living abroad
Major change in living condition and place of residence. Major work readjustment or changing job entirely. Major change in finances. Moving to a new school.
You are NEVER too old to move abroad.
Because whatever stage of life you're in, single or with a family, we strongly believe, that you should never let your age put your off fulfilling that dream of moving to another country. However, there are also some things to consider.
How easy is it to move internationally? ›
International moving can be difficult. Finding a job in another country is even more challenging. Work permits are difficult to obtain, and even harder if you're in a two-income household; some countries only allow one spouse to be employed.What does a full relocation package include? ›
A typical relocation package usually covers the costs of moving and storing furnishings, household goods, assistance with selling an existing home, costs incurred with house-hunting, temporary housing, and all travel costs by the employee and family to the new location.What is a good relocation package amount? ›
How much do employee relocation packages cost? Relocating an employee can be a costly endeavor for companies. The average relocation package costs between $19,309 and $24,216 for renters and between $72,627 and $97,116 for homeowners, according to American Relocation Connections (ARC), a corporate relocation group.How much is a typical lump sum relocation package? ›
Of those companies, most companies are providing anywhere from $2,500 to $4,999. If the company was going to cover the entire relocation, they'd offer anywhere from $10,000 - $14,999. So if your company is going to offer you a lump sum, you should expect to see somewhere within that range.What is the best country to relocate to? ›
- Sweden. #1 in Quality of Life. #5 in Best Countries Overall. ...
- Denmark. #2 in Quality of Life. #10 in Best Countries Overall. ...
- Canada. #3 in Quality of Life. ...
- Switzerland. #4 in Quality of Life. ...
- Norway. #5 in Quality of Life. ...
- Finland. #6 in Quality of Life. ...
- Germany. #7 in Quality of Life. ...
- Netherlands. #8 in Quality of Life.
- Sweden. ...
- Canada. ...
- Immigrating To UAE. ...
- Norway. ...
- Finland. ...
- Spain. ...
- 1.1. 1 – United States.
- 1.2. 2 – Canada.
- 1.3. 3 – Germany.
- 1.4. 4 – Australia.
- 1.5. 5 – Portugal.