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Relocation costs & Relocation budget planning

When you are planning your relocation, one of the first thing you should do is create a budget and define what will and will not be included in your budget.

Relocation Costs – Budget Planning

What are the major costs or an overseas relocation? In this guide, SDC International Shipping will try to help you figure out what things need to be included in your relocation costs. Budget planning can be a big saver in the long run.

There are several types of costs that need to be considered: the cost of leaving the United States, costs of moving your belongings, cost of transportation, and the cost of setting up house in your new country. We suggest that you use a conservative approach to budget planning: set a higher budget, and use high cost estimates. If you plan on a cost of $10k and end up paying only $9k in the end, you’ll be fine. But if you were planning on $10k and end up paying $11k it might be a problem. 

Budget for Relocation Services

SDC International Shipping are experts in international relocation services. This means that we will deal with everything that has to the physical transport of your belongings from your old home to your new home in a new country. For some people, this will be the lion’s share of relocation costs. For most, it will only be a portion. Even if your business is paying for a portion or all of your shipment costs, you still need to work out the budget that you have to work with, and decide what you and won’t be doing. We recommend that you read our guide to understanding your shipping cost estimate to better understand the cost of international relocation services. It is important to note that even though we try to give you a quote that is as inclusive as possible, there are several additional costs that aren’t included.

Budget for Leaving the United States

Whatever your reason for leaving the United States, whether to return to your home, moving for employment, or retiring to a more pleasant climate, you will have many costs of shutting down your permanent presence in the United States. We have plenty of clients who intend to continue living in the United States on a temporary basis, but they will still have some costs.


The chances are that you will not succeed in perfectly timing your move so that we pick up your things exactly on the 31st of the month your lease ends. For most people, this is not the case. Even if you look at this like a “sunk cost” it is a real cost if you are paying rent for time you aren’t living in the place.

Other things to consider are property taxes. Have you paid for a portion you will not be living in the property. See if you can recuperate these costs. This will be dependent upon your state. If you have sold a property you own, this will be a part of the legal sales process.

Whether you previously owned or rented, it is likely that many things like electricity, phone, water, cable etc. are registered in your name. Make sure that these are transferred to someone else, otherwise you will be responsible for their costs.


Most of our clients do not close their local bank accounts, as most banks in the United States do not charge for the upkeep of active accounts. One thing that you do need to budget, however, is the cost of transferring money to another country. This might seem like a small cost, but it can add up over time. We recommend that you speak with your bank early about how you will be able to access your account while abroad and transfer money if necessary. You should also make sure that your credit card has no “international transaction fees”, most do, but there are many that do not.


If you have things that SDC International Shipping won’t be sending overseas to your new home, it will cost you some money to get rid of them. In many locations, you can’t just leave things by the roadside. You will have to pay to have them removed. Consider holding a garage sale, donating your things to organizations like Goodwill

Budget for Transportation

Plane tickets are not your only personal transportation costs. At least one family member will probably make an early trip to set up life in your new home. Taxis cost money. Passports, visas and entrance fees also need to be considered. You will more than likely also need to purchase a few new suitcases. For your budget, make sure to make extra allowances for transportation costs.

Budget for Setting up Your New Home

There are many things that will cost you money and should be budgeted for when settling into your new home. These costs will differ from country to country. Some are obvious, some you might only find out about when you get there

Health Services Budget

Some countries have excellent comprehensive medical services for all legal residents. Most do not. You will probably find that in many countries you need to supplement the available medical treatment with private doctors. Unlike the United States, this is not typically a part of the compensation package from your employer.

Mobile Phone Budget

Some countries have mobile phone companies who work on paradigms that are drastically different from the one you are familiar with. You can probably easily look into this before you leave and budget for it. Also, many times it makes sense to purchase new mobile phones in the United States before you leave. You need to check that the model you want will work in your destination country and that there are not import restrictions on communications equipment in your destination country.

TV Costs

Don’t forget to get a streaming device that will let you continue enjoying the American shows that you love. Please note that while not expensive, you should budget for some sort of VPN or similar service that is necessary to do this. While you are adding this to your budget, make sure to look into the cost of internet services. In some countries this is more affordable than in the US, in others it will more expensive. Also, you will probably want to buy the newest router available or several.

Concierge Services

Many people find it hard to acclimate to a new country. Getting a job, finding housing, setting up local government identifications, schools, bank accounts, health services and many more things could be tricky. In many countries there are expat associations that can help with these. In others there are local concierge services that will be of great assistance to some in accomplishing all of the tasks that await you in your new country. You can look into the costs of these services right now and add them into your budget.

Adjustment Costs

You will have to get some things translated like health records, school records, in some locations official certificates or qualifications. Other things that should be added to your costs are getting local driver’s licenses, ID cards, insurance and more.

Do you speak the language of your destination country? If not, you need to take into account in your budget the cost of learning the language. This might be a few lessons, or it could prevent you from working.

The Cost of Help

If you are going on retirement relocation, there are several countries where they demand that you employ a citizen. Many people are happy to do this in any case as help in their retirement country is far more affordable than in the United States, and this is a part of their decision to relocate.

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By Kfir Cohen

Kfir Cohen is handling global operations, cargo shipping, negotiation, and management of different suppliers around the world. He has more than 15 years of experience in the avant-garde of relocation and the sea/air freight business.
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