Unless you are moving from a First World country to a similar First World country, you will need to adjust your financial expectations. Twice I have relocated and twice I found myself making huge adjustments on how I view money (or more likely the savings in my bank account).
Here is how my relocation has transformed me into a financially savvy person.
In charge of all purchases
When I was living in Singapore, I was staying with my parents. Living with them under the same roof, I never needed to worry about purchases other than my own clothes, my own mobile bills and sometimes my own food when I had cravings for fast food. I didn’t realize how spoiled I was until I moved to another country.
All of a sudden, I am loaded with all sorts of buying decisions, from the brand of the washing machine to the brand of detergent. Can you imagine I spent 20 minutes in the supermarket aisle, comparing the different brands of toilet paper? That’s because I realized that a one-dollar difference can mean I saved $12 in a year.
Branded goods are more expensive
I don’t place much emphasis on material goods but once in a while, I did love pampering myself, especially after a year of hard work.
Now that I am residing overseas, I find myself steering clear of branded items, mainly due to the reason that they are so much more costly than back home because of the tax on luxury goods. For example, Shanghai has a 13% tax on foreign labeled luxury items and ironically, these items are made in China.
Supporting local products
I like to buy local products if possible. This is not only because they are cheaper, but you will also be doing some good by giving back to your host country.
Sometimes, you can even find unique stuff that is only available locally, like handmade items not mass-produced to be purchased online.
Both the handmade batik dress I have or the straw carryons are great conversation starters!
Eyes wide open for sales
Sales in my home country Singapore are predictable. The usual suspects are Christmas sales, Chinese New Year sales, and mid-year sales.
As both Malaysia and China (countries that I relocated to) are pretty big on manufacturing, there are always warehouse sales every month.
In China, there is a sale for every special occasion like 11 Nov (Single’s Day) and Double 12 Sales (12 December).
Willing to venture out
For huge countries like Malaysia and China, you will find fantastic deals if you are willing to venture outskirt of the cities.
Whether it is food, clothing or services, I found out that I can get massages at a 50% discount if I am willing to travel 10 minutes further out of town. The same goes for haircut services, clothes, and even local food!
Both China and Malaysia are huge so I get to go away on a weekend getaway within the country. This means I can save the flight fares by taking buses, trains or driving instead.
Local tax vs foreigner tax
I don’t think a lot about tax back home. You see, Singapore has one of the lowest tax rates in the world. But when it comes to other countries, with their tax rate even higher for foreigners, it can come as a shock.
So if you are thinking of moving abroad, taxation is an item you want to put on top of your list to be looked at before you make the move. Overall, moving aboard actually made me be more financially aware of my expenditures and I am saving quite a tidy sum in the bank too!
Are you saving money overseas? Spending more than you are used to? We’d love to hear what you have to say.
By: Kally Tay