Exactly How Much It Cost Me To Move Back Home After Living Abroad
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for TFD about the mistakes I made when I moved from Canada to the UK, and how I could have saved myself money and hassle if I had just been on a little more on top of things. Well, not to be hard on myself, but it doesn’t seem like I learned my lesson all that well.
In mid-September, my work visa expired, and I had no choice but to return to the motherland and leave my UK life behind. Knowing the date I would need to return home by, I started making preparations at the beginning of the summer, when I booked my flights and started eyeing all the things I had amassed during my time there with a critical eye: what would come back with me, and what would need to be cut loose?
As it turns out, however, I didn’t do nearly as good a job at planning my return as I thought I had, and in the end, it cost me a very, very pretty penny.
Here, in no particular order, are the things I paid for, and what it all cost me, to move back to Canada:
After a few days of browsing flights around the date that my visa expired, I finally settled on catching a morning flight out of Gatwick to Vancouver via Air Transat: it was direct; I was familiar with the company and the planes, and it would get me to Vancouver at around noon PST. Some of the baggage policies had changed since I had last flown with them, and so I upgraded my flight so that I could check a bag as well, which added about $70 CAD ($53.45 USD) to my ticket price.
From Vancouver, I would need to catch a second flight up to Kamloops, where my parents live, as I would be staying with them after my return. So I bought a second ticket for a 45-minute flight via Air Canada, with no option to add checked luggage. I would have to do that when I checked in the day of.
Air Transat ticket: $457.72 CAD ($349.49 USD)
Air Canada ticket: $170.23 CAD ($129.98 USD)
2. Luggage and Shipping
A couple of weeks before the big move, I started having anxiety dreams about packing all of my belongings and fitting them all into my suitcase. I had sent a full suitcase on ahead with a family member the month before when they’d come to visit (mostly my winter clothes and boots), but I still had a full wardrobe, toiletries, books, and sentimental items that I wanted to take back with me, and only one suitcase to fit it all in.
My housemate came to my rescue by offering me an old suitcase of his, which meant that I had to add a second suitcase to my Air Transat flight. And even with the second suitcase, I still struggled to fit everything. Even after brutally cutting down my book collection and culling my wardrobe, I was left with too much stuff and not enough packing space.
I chose to send a few things ahead of time. I boxed up documents, notebooks, novels, and a few bits and pieces I couldn’t fit in my suitcase, and managed to get them into one box and two large envelopes to send back. I sent the envelopes first (two books per envelope), and paid in cash. I can’t find a receipt for exactly how much I spent, but my estimate was about £40. The bigger box (which I sent the day before I flew out) cost me a lot more. And don’t forget the luggage I still had to pay to check with Air Canada!
Shipping: approx. $180.13 CAD ($137.54 USD)
Luggage: $184 CAD ($140.49 USD)
3. Getting There and Leftovers:
So far, this is a lot of money being spent, but it was pretty in line with what I was expecting to pay. This category, however, could just as easily been named Things I Could Have Avoided Paying For If Only I’d Had My Shit Together. A couple of weeks before my flight, I started looking at trains from the town where I lived to Gatwick Airport. I knew there was a direct train that would take just over an hour to get to the airport, which worked perfectly for me.
What I hadn’t taken into account was that my flight was on a Sunday, and the trains didn’t run as frequently on Sunday mornings. The earliest train would have gotten me to the airport, at best, two hours before my flight — and that was only if there were no issues on the line coming in. After hemming and hawing and cursing my own stupidity, I realized that my best course of action would be to get a hotel room in London the night before my flight and catch the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station first thing in the morning.
The last item on this list is my final bill for my UK phone plan. I put off canceling my plan until the day before I flew out because I didn’t want to rely on having to find a WiFi signal to reach anyone if I really needed to. If I had bothered to read the fine print on my contract, however, I would have found that I needed to give my provider 30 days’ notice to cancel, which meant that I’m still paying for it through to mid-October. Luckily, phone plans in the UK are much more affordable than here in Canada, so it’s not a huge amount, but it’s still an extra bit of money that could have padded out my savings instead.
Hotel room: $299.97 CAD ($229.04 USD)
Gatwick Express: $33.92 CAD ($25.90 USD)
UK phone bill: $35.60 CAD ($27.18 USD)
Total amount spent on moving from the UK to Canada: $1,361.57 CAD ($1,039.63 USD)
At this point, I want to throw my hands up and say that I am very lucky to have had an emergency fund that allowed me to shell out the money with relative painlessness, and the added bonus of my parents inviting me to stay with them so that I wouldn’t have to add the stress of apartment hunting to this whole ordeal (thanks Mom and Dad!). And while the amount I spent does make me wince, and I could have saved myself a chunk of it with better planning, I know that it hasn’t left me completely broke, and I’m still in a relatively stable position to begin the job hunt anew.
So, my UK adventure is over and done with, and though I long for it like a long-lost lover, I’m happy to have many good memories to look back on fondly and can take away a number of valuable lessons, financial and otherwise. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I’m glad I did it. Even if my wallet it a little lighter for it.
Jess is an avid reader, a lazy writer, and a brunch enthusiast. She spent two years living abroad, which makes her insufferable to talk to now. In her spare time, she listens to true crime podcasts, takes long walks, and tries to keep her Sims alive and relatively healthy. You can follow her on Twitter @jessfeser.
Image via Unsplash