How to save money to move to Austria — moving abroad costs more than you expect

Many people decide to move to Austria, spend a few months saving up to do so, and then pack up their bags and go.

A large percentage of them are quickly surprised at how expensive it can be moving to Austria when they get here, and how many unexpected expenses they are soon forced to pay.

When you consider just the move to Austria itself is expensive — airfare, visas (for some people!), accommodation, transportation, buying furniture and other items you will need to settle in — it is probably not surprising when you learn you should save at least double what you planned to save before you actually move.

That is why you may want to take notice of some of the things you can do to save money for a move to Austria, months before you pack and actually leave.

If you do, you can then leave for your new country knowing you should be able to survive for several months. No matter what may happen when you get here.


How much money do you need to move to Austria?

When I was moving to Vienna, I calculated what the average cost of living was in Austria, figured out how much I would need for at least my first six months living there — and then doubled it.

By doing that, I not only knew I could easily pay for all the things I would need in coming months, including the airfare and the first few days in a hotel until I found an apartment, then apartment rent, deposit and other living expenses — I also knew I would have plenty of money should a catastrophe occur. (It didn’t!)

Do the same for your planned move to Austria, and that is the financial goal you are aiming for when you follow these tips.


Pay off your debts

You do not want to be saddled with any debt when you move to Austria, which is why you should pay off all your debts first.

This often means credit card bills, consolidation loans, school loans and any loans you may have taken from family and friends.

After all, while Austria has a very good standard of living and jobs pay quite well, you could still end up making less initially than at your last job. Especially if you do not already have a job lined up before you move.

That is why you should work as much as you can to pay off all your debts. Then, once you are debt-free, start socking money away to take with you when you move.

For most people, being debt-free immediately means access to hundreds of dollars more in disposable income every month. Income you can spend to make your move to Austria easier, and money you can spend on getting settled when you get here.

Make sure you also pay off your credit cards by consolidating them and getting a lower interest rate.  Then stop using them for anything that is not an outright emergency.

After all, you do not need that book, movie, Starbucks coffee or any of the thousands of other things people often buy in an attempt to find ‘short-term happiness’.

Save that money for your move to Austria instead, and you will have more cash to spend exploring your new country when you get here.


While it is nice to have coffee in a cool coffee shop, you waste hundreds of dollars a month if you do it every day

Look closely at where you spend money

When I was saving for my move to Vienna, I calculated how much I spent every month on things I did not need. One of them was over $200 a month on coffee drinks/muffins at my local coffee chain.

Once I realized that, I immediately cut out all coffee and muffins, except for a treat trip every second Sunday. That meant I cut my coffee shop visits down from 30 a month to two, helping me save over $185 a month in the process — or more than $1,100 in the six months before I left for Vienna .

And all of it money I then spent on buying household accessories for my new flat when I arrived in Austria.

In other words, if you want to save money for your move to Austria, assess where you waste money first and then stop spending it.

Do you spend too much on coffee, books you don’t need, trips to the movie theater, meals out with friends or too many drinks after work?

Many people can cut their budgets by $250 to $500 a month by just cutting out small expenses they do not need to spend. Expenses that could help you save an extra $2,000 to $5,000 in just the few months before you leave for your new home.


Stop paying membership fees

Many people stop paying for gym memberships, monthly Netflix fees (although I disagree with that), memberships to anime streaming sites, food delivery clubs, book clubs, VPN services and other membership programs when they are saving for a move to Austria.

When I knew I was moving to Vienna, the first thing I canceled was my cable bill.

With tens of millions of free YouTube videos, thousands of movies and TV shows to watch online for free, and anime series from places like Crunchyroll completely free as well, I saved $630 before I left Bangkok for Vienna just by canceling my cable subscription.

Calculate how much you spend on all your monthly membership fees, and you may be surprised that just a few months of not paying for them could pay your rent in a city like Vienna, Salzburg, Graz or Linz for six months to a YEAR!


Pay for things in cash

An easy and very effective tip you can follow when saving money for a move to Austria is to pay for everything with cash.

When you use a credit card, it is easy to not notice what you spend. Draw money out of your bank account and pay for everything in cash, however, and you will notice quickly when it has all disappeared.

Stop eating out

When you can make breakfast at home for under a dollar, or dinner at home for around a euro, why are you still spending $10/€10/£10 every day eating out?

Eating meals and snacks out is how most people waste the most money. Cook your meals at home, and you could save upwards of $500/€500/£500 or more a month on unnecessary restaurant meals.


Only buy necessary insurance

Too many people spend thousands of dollars a year on insurance they will never need. Especially if they are under 50 years of age.

Look at the insurance policies you currently pay for and decide if you need them.

Do you have a life insurance policy and are single? If so, who do you plan on leaving that money to if anything happens to you and does that person really need it? If not, cancel the policy, get the money back you can and save both it and your no-longer-being-paid premiums for your move to Vienna.

Do you need an expensive health insurance policy that still doesn’t cover you for half of the care you would need in an emergency? If you do, cut it down to the bare minimum with the understanding that, if you move to Austria from America for instance, your health care will be cheaper by magnitudes and much much better as well.

Are your car insurance premiums too high? Are you paying too much to insure a car that isn’t worth much?

If so, again, cut your car insurance down to what will cover the value of the car and cover yourself should you have an accident and someone decides to sue you.

Tens of thousands of car owners waste thousands of dollars/pounds/euros every year on car insurance. Money that could be socked away for your move to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz or Linz instead.


Sell your belongings

You may not realize how many things you own that you do not need.

When I made my move from Bangkok, Thailand to Vienna, Austria, I sold everything I owned on Craig’s List and on Facebook, except for what fit in three small boxes that I then stored at a friend’s house in Bangkok, plus two suitcases that went with me. (I was moving to Austria and setting up home in an apartment in Vienna, and not traveling around, so I took more things with me than would a person who plans to do a lot of traveling).

By just selling all the furniture in my one-bedroom Bangkok apartment, all my books, DVDs, computer games (except for a few favorites of each), kitchen supplies, home accessories, some of my clothing and shoes etc, I was able to make over $5,500 to bring with me.

By the time I got to Vienna, I had $16,000 from the sale of all my belongings plus the car I sold back in the U.S.

That money paid for everything I needed in Vienna for a YEAR, including the airfare to get here, rent, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, toiletries, sundry fun shopping trips and meals out with new friends. It even paid for a weekend trip to Linz.

Yes, I am self-employed online, so I had a job when I arrived in Vienna but…the fact is, I had enough money with me that I didn’t need to worry if something went wrong with my online work.


Pick up a second job

If you really want some extra cash for your move to Vienna, Salzburg, Graz or Linz, consider picking up a second job. It doesn’t have to be an evening job either, as you could work a Saturday or Sunday job, or even work extra hours from home.

I am a writer/journalist by trade, so I picked up some extra writing jobs via an agency I occasionally write through when I was planning my move to Austria.

Just writing an extra 10 articles/blog posts a month allowed me to save an extra $5,300 in the last couple of months before I left. Money that I then put in my emergency fund should I ever need it once I arrived in Austria (I didn’t!).

Think about walking dogs in your neighborhood, working at a coffee shop a couple of nights a week, being a pet sitter for people going on holiday or away on business, tutoring students in your area or people who need to learn the language you speak.

You could also rent out your services as a social media manager, sell products on eBay or Amazon, do some freelance proofreading, paint houses, or offer out your services moving lawns or doing yard work.

There are hundreds of things you can do that only require a short-term commitment, yet could mean the difference between having to be frugal when you arrive in Austria and having money to travel, eat out or have drinks with friends and even shop.

Save, save, save

Finally, look at every purchase you are planning on making before you make it and decide “Do I really need to buy this $30 shirt, or is it more important to save that money for my move to Austria?”

In most cases, you will realize you don’t.

Then put that money into your savings account, and you are one step further to achieving y our dream of moving to Austria and living overseas.

Now, watch the excellent video from Patti below, who saved money to move to France at the age of just 19.


About Michelle Topham

I'm a journalist, and the founder of Oh My Vienna. I have been living in Vienna since 2016 as an immigrant, because 'expat' is just a fancy word that means exactly that.