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Migrating Overseas? Here Are Some Surprising Costs You Might Not Think About

Let’s talk about the hidden costs of moving overseas.

Congratulations! You’ve landed a great job in an amazing country and can’t wait to finally touch the green(er) grass on the other side. However, uprooting somewhere new isn’t always all fun and games all the time. Migrating overseas is actually a big deal that strains your mental capacity and your wallet.

Based on real-life experiences, we highlight some of the costs of relocating to another country that you might not realise you need to incur. All fees and charges are subjected to change depending on each country’s immigration laws.

Before You Leave

Visa Application Fees

Most of the time, your new company would take care of work visa and other legal documentation for you, including related charges like medical check-ups (if required) and vaccinations. If they don’t, you’re looking at a minimum of a few thousand dollars. To illustrate, here are visa costs of some popular destinations.


Visa application fee: AUD 3,755 (SGD $3,783) + online payment surcharge (ranges from 0.98% to 1.99%)

Compulsory medical check with approved panel doctors only (may include x-rays): SGD $180-250

Vaccinations (optional): SGD $40-120


Visa application fee of GBP 464-1,220 (SGD $835-2,194) + healthcare surcharge (GBP 200/SGD $359 per year)


If you decide you hate your new job and would like to look for another job in your new country, you may need to:

– Pay for a new visa application, if your existing visa is tied to your job.

– Get your education qualifications accessed. Some countries require overseas qualifications to be checked – to determine if these certifications are recognised, and what the equivalent level would be in their country. You may not need to do this before as you already had a job offer, but you may be asked for this assessment by other companies you decide to apply to.

The cost of getting your qualifications assessed in New Zealand is between NZD 138-746 (SGD $128-$690) + courier fee NZD 41 (SGD $38) while the same thing in Canada costs CAD 200 (SGD $207) + courier fee CAD 75 (SGD $78).

Read Also: Is Your Travel Visa Basically A Tourist Tax?

Proof Of Funds

Depending on the visa type you have, some countries may require you to show proof (bank account statements) that you have enough money to take care of yourself should you fall sick or lose your job. In Canada, you need a hefty CAD 12,475 (SGD $12,934), while the UK only needs to see GBP 945 (SGD $1,700).

Moving And Shipping Fees

Your employer would usually pay for this. If they don’t, expect to fork out anywhere between a few hundred dollars to more than two thousand.

For example, Air freight (takes 3 days) from Singapore to Auckland, New Zealand is about NZD 425 (SGD $393) for oversized items up to 24kg. Sea freight from Singapore to Houston, USA, starts at SGD $2,135 for the contents of a small one-bedroom apartment.

The costs does not include customs fees and duties, taxes, insurance or quarantine inspections.

Travel Costs

Obviously, you’ll need to get flights there… But at some point, you may want to head home for a short visit, whether to see family or to attend weddings. Regular back and forths, even once-a-year trips, are additional travel costs you need to budget for.

A Singapore-London flight starts from SGD $1,100. While for Singapore-Sydney, an average non-budget flight would start at SGD $700. Then you need to consider additional baggage for all the cheap stuff (mostly Asian food-related) that you can only get in Singapore which you’ll want to bring back to your new home.

For this category of flights, Qantas additional baggage fees costs around NZD 366 (SGD $339) for 15kg, and NZD 610 (SGD $565) for 25kg, while Singapore Airlines’ excess baggage fee is USD 30/kg (SGD $55/kg).

Read Also: Singapore Budget Airline Add-On Fees Comparison 2018

When You Get There


Rent would vary depending on location and how big your place is. Most landlords require a deposit of at least a month’s rent up front, which you’ll get back when you leave the rental. If there are damages to the property, then the charges will be deducted from your deposit. Sometimes there’ll be additional agency fees if you found your rental through an agency.

Hopefully, you’ll get a fully furnished place, otherwise, expect to fork out more money for furniture and appliances. Some employers will give you a housing allowance. If not, average rental price in London is about GBP 1,200 (SGD $2,159) per month for a furnished studio, and AUD 1,500 (SGD $1,512) in Melbourne. So, your first housing bill in Melbourne would be Deposit (AUD 1,500, refundable) + Rent (AUD 1,500) + Agency Fee (if applicable).

Private Transport Arrangement

How would you be getting around / to work? If you’re lucky and get to live in Canada, public transportation in most big cities are great and fairly affordable (but still more expensive than Singapore). A Cash Fare (1 trip) in Toronto would cost CAD 3.25 (SGD 3.37 one way or SGD $33.70 for a twice a day weekly commute).

On the flip side, in the land of sheep (New Zealand), public transport there is expensive and inconvenient if you don’t live in the city center. Cars are a necessity to get around and while they are cheap, a decent car would still set you back at least NZD 5,000 (SGD $4,626).

Healthcare And Insurance

This should be covered by your company with your relocation package. If they don’t, you’ll need to get your own. In countries like the UK and Australia, public healthcare is reasonably priced and widely available as long as you’re eligible for it. In the U.S., however, only U.S. citizens have access to healthcare, so most expats get their insurance paid for by their employers.

Income Tax

It is common knowledge that Singapore has a pretty low tax rate compared to many other countries, with our maximum tax rate at 22% for the highest income earners here. The highest tax rate in Australia is 47% (including a 2% Medicare levy) and 58.75% in Canada.

You may be getting a better salary in your new country, but are you really taking home more pay?

Climate Appropriate Clothing

Let’s hope your new job comes with a nice living allowance. If it doesn’t, be prepared to spend some money on warm clothing for winter. You’ll now have to buy winter clothes and footwear appropriate for the new climate you’ll be living in. Think a good winter coat (USD 70), gloves (USD 10), beanies (USD 10), scarves (USD 10), thick socks (USD 10), water-resistant shoes (USD 100), thermal innerwear (USD 20) etc… Even at conservative estimates, they all add up to USD 230 (SGD $314). And based on experience, most of us would probably spend more than that.

Don’t Forget: Ongoing Recurring Expenses In Singapore

You will need to continue to pay for prior monthly memberships under contract, like gym memberships that you cannot cancel. If you have existing liabilities, like mortgages or instalment payments, and insurance premiums, you will continue to pay for them as well.

Hopefully, we’ve given you a better idea of the not-so-obvious expenses that occur when moving to a new place. Migrating to another country is a massive decision, especially if you’re bringing the whole family over there too.

Even if you have a job offer and an employer that takes good care of you, there are still plenty of hidden costs to think about. Make sure that your personal finances are in order before making the move, and you’ll have one less thing to stress about. Bon voyage!

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