Stretch it as far as you can!

I was recently clearing some space on my very overworked laptop when I discovered some files from the planning stage of our family relocation to Australia. It made interesting reading and was a reminder of how far we’ve come (and how much money we’ve spent!) in the past few years.

We left the UK in 2009 and had a six week holiday in Thailand before arriving in Sydney in January 2010. At the time that we moved we knew Sydney was expensive, similar to London. It hadn’t gained international attention as one of the most expensive cities in the world.

For families currently thinking about moving to Australia, or who have made the decision and now need to organise the detail, we thought it would be useful to share our Australian relocation budget. We are a family of four. We moved from London to Sydney when our children were preschoolers. We own a property in the UK that we are renting out.

The initial budget

When families ask what savings they need in order to move to Australia we think £25,000 – £30,000 is a realistic figure if you want to do it sensibly, without taking too much risk and doing too much scrimping and saving. Sure, it’s possible to move over on much less but with little savings your move will be risky and more stressful.

If, like us, you own property in the UK that you are renting out, and you are still responsible for a UK mortgage, you’ll need the top end of our recommended budget (£30,000) – we did.

Below is a breakdown of our initial budget.

We haven’t included full details of our holiday in Thailand because we didn’t have to spend six weeks on holiday and we split the budget with friends and family who were travelling with us; the figures we provide aren’t going to be meaningful to other people. If you plan to stopover en route to Australia you should add these costs to your budget.

Our planned family relocation budget

What did we forget or get wrong?

There were a number of things we forgot or miscalculated.

The reality of our relocation spending

Costs relating to UK rental property

The first mistake we made was overlooking the costs relating to the property we own in the UK. When we did our financial planning we didn’t consider these costs and it quickly added up. The costs are;

  • Maintenance before tenants moved in (we painted and needed to fix a few things).
  • Power of Attorney – we decided to give my parents Power of Attorney in case they need to act on our behalf regarding our property (we paid £100 to a solicitor to create these documents).
  • Payment to rental agent for managed service (we were prepared to pay a % of the monthly rent, but a lump sum had to be paid up front).
  • Ad hoc payments to rental agent for drawing up contracts and inventory (around £300).
  • Payment to freehold landlord to give us permission to rent out our leasehold property (£50 one-off fee).

Don’t talk to us about car hire!

We’ve written before that we kept our hire car for far longer than we should, and for far longer than was economical. Had we bought a car within the first few weeks we would have saved a significant amount of money. We kept thinking we’d give the hire car back and wouldn’t need it but something always came up!

We would recommend that car hire is an area of your relocation budget you should look at to see if you can save money. Buying something second hand that would have seen us through the first six months would have been far more cost effective than the amount we spent on ten weeks car hire.

Work clothes and essential household items

When we left the UK we decided not to ship work clothes and basic household items. We decided that what we had was well worn and opted to buy new stuff in Australia. It was a frivolous decision.

During our first months in Sydney, finding money for work clothes and essential household items was the last thing our finances needed. We cut costs in other areas, but there were many moments when we remembered items we had given or thrown away in the UK and wished we’d made space for in our shipping boxes.

What would we do differently?

Looking at things from a financial perspective this is what we’d do differently if we were planning our family relocation budget again;

  • We would aim to buy a cheap second hand car from the outset and not spend money on car hire.
  • We would ship more work clothes.
  • We would ship essential household items – kitchen utensils, linen etc.
  • We would better plan the costs relating to our UK rental property.
  • We would reconsider the timing of our move, read When is the best time of year to move to Australia? Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus received his first pay check four months after we left the UK. We hoped it would be sooner and had we arrived at a different time of year things might have been different.

With hindsight we would have been less stressed had we been able to save an extra £5,000 during the years that led up to our move, but I doubt we would have been able to, it was hard enough reaching the £30,000 mark. The most stressful time we had was watching our contingency in the UK disappear. We had nightmares about receiving a call from the UK telling us our tenants were moving out and we had to cover the mortgage! On the other hand, we were lucky to have that buffer and nearly two years on we don’t have any regrets.

If you are currently planning your family’s move to Australia, we hope your plans are going well and you’re not too shocked or stressed by our budget. If you’d like to share your questions, thoughts, tips and ideas please do so in the comments below.

If you’ve already made the move how did you make savings or where did you go wrong with your planning? Let’s share our experiences and help others. Thank you!

Related articles:

Don’t miss critical information about your move to Australia: Join Mum’s Facebook page to receive regular updates. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to have a wrap-up of articles, tips and recommendations delivered straight to your Inbox.