Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The cost of moving to Germany

The last 3 weeks have been crazy for me financially. I’ve been spending money left and right, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been bringing in some mad freelance income this month, I might have already had a heart attack.

I realized that I haven’t really spoken about the cost of moving to Europe for 7 months. To make it easier, I’ll be converting all Euro prices over to Canadian dollars. Or maybe I’ll list both so you can see the exchange rate difference. Whatever you guys want to see. Thoughts?

Anyway, here is what my trip to Europe has cost me so far:

  • $648 – Flight to Paris. ♥
  • $432 – Insurance. We bought 12 months worth of insurance, but we can get a refund on the difference (since we’ll only be away for 7 months) once we get back to Canada.
  • $470 – Work visa. We went through SWAP to obtain our 12-month working holiday visas because we needed to ensure we got our visas in time for Nic’s start date at work. This saved us the headache of submitting paperwork, and visits to the consulate. We also have a support system in place in Germany, which is well worth the money.

TOTAL: $1,550

Here is what I still need to pay for (and the approximate price):

  • $400 – backpack (75-85L). I realized a few weeks ago that my 60L top-loading hiking pack isn’t going to do me any good while traveling. I need something bigger, because I won’t be bringing any other luggage besides what I can fit in my backpack. The minimalist approach. :) I figure I’ll get good use out of this bigger pack in the future because I’ve got my sights set on trips to Asia, Kilimanjaro, and Machu Picchu in the next couple of years. :)
  • $50 – daypack (25-30L). A backpack that I can use for weekend getaways as a carry-on, that also has a laptop slot. I will also use this backpack as my mobile office when I want to get out of the apartment and explore the city.
  • $90 – two nights hostel in Paris. Our initial flight is into Paris. The plan is to spend 2 nights there before taking the train into Germany. Hostels are expensive for private rooms, but still cheaper than hotels. We’ll also check Expedia and PriceLine.
  • $60 – train from Paris to Stuttgart. We’ll book this as soon as Nic gets confirmation on his start date at work.
  • $80 – two nights hostel in Stuttgart. We’ll probably have to spend 2 nights in a hostel before we can move into an apartment for February 1st.
  • $650 – deposit on an apartment. The apartments we’ve been looking at have €1,000 deposits, which is $1,300 CAD. We’ll split the cost of the deposit.
  • $300 – first month of rent. The rental market in Stuttgart is tight. I’ve had plenty of people tell me to have something lined up before getting there. So we’re in the middle of contacting listings right now. Tiny studio apartments in the city are around €800, or $1,050 CAD – all utilities and internet included. Which I think is a great price, and almost seems too good to be true. We talked about how much rent I’d be able to contribute, since I also have to pay my mortgage and maintenance fees at home. Nic said he could pay around $800/month, so I’d probably be looking at paying $250-300 a month for my portion of the rent. Maybe less. Which is great, because my monthly mortgage/fees for my home in Vancouver is about $1,300/month, plus property taxes of course. But we won’t be able to finalize rent portions until we have secured a place.

TOTAL: $1,630

All I’m seeing is dollar signs right now. And I’m sure I’ll have to add more expenses to the list in the next two weeks. But I know it will be worth it, and it will all be paid for in cash. :)

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. That is a lot of money, but not too bad for moving across the world! Moving expenses always seem to come out of nowhere, and it seems to pull future purchases into now (like the backpacks).

  2. Have you thought of going through Airbnb for the nights in Paris?

    From previous posts it sounds like you’ve had good luck with them!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah I’ll definitely check out AirBnB. The prices seem to be similar to a hostel, but I’d almost prefer the hostel for the interaction with other travelers – and hostels are usually located in the best areas for tourists. :)

  3. Lili says:

    I recommend waiting until you get to Germany to buy a daypack, or even a travelpack. There is an excellent German brand there called Deuter. They sell a few of their bags at MEC, but they are cheaper in Germany since they are a German brand.

    I got their travelpack made for women at Europebound in Toronto, and I was a lot happier with it than my friends, who bought MEC ones. Mine had a zip-off daypack that I still use day to day because it is so comfortable.

    The only annoying thing about the bag was that people assumed that I was German and could understand them while travelling in Germany. You can always identify a Canadian by their MEC backpack.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Well if I don’t buy the backpack and daypack here in Canada, I’m not sure how I would bring all of my stuff with me to Germany! :) My backpack will be my checked luggage (not bringing any suitcases), and my daypack will be my carry-on.

      My hope is to get a used Arc’teryx pack (I prefer their brand b/c the women/short packs fit me perfectly and are great quality) off Craigslist.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Sounds like the apartments are a good deal. I bet it’s much more expensive in other European cities.

    I hope you’re able to find somewhere convenient to work so you don’t go crazy in a tiny apartment!

  5. Emily says:

    Hey! How did you find working with SWAP? I think I am planning on doing something similar in the upcoming months but want to make sure I have a work visa.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I really liked working with SWAP. They made it super easy, and they went over my paperwork to make sure everything was correct, before submitting it. They ensured we got our visas within 4 weeks of handing in our application, and were really good with answering all of our questions.

      My friend is going through getting a work visa for France, and is having a huge hassle with it because she’s doing it herself. I think she’s been to the consulate at least 3 times by now, and she isn’t even sure she’s going to get approved in time for her start date at her job. So for me, the money paid to SWAP was well worth it.

  6. Money Rabbit says:

    I’m SOOOOOO excited for you!!! What a fabulous journey. Damn straight you’re going to Kili and Machu Picchu! :P

  7. You will love Paris! It is my favorite place to visit (only been there on our honeymoon but so many great memories).

    That seems really inexpensive for 2 nights in Paris (is that split amongst 2 of you)?

    We are big fans of Priceline (even works in Europe).

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Yeah the 2 nights in Paris is split between the 2 of us. I just did some quick research the other day and it seems like hostels are around $40 each per night for a private room. Which seems a bit pricey, but fair for an expensive city like Paris.

  8. The money spent now will all be worth it. I lived in Italy for awhile – about 10 years ago – and the experience was worth every penny.

  9. Erica says:

    Paris is beautiful. I loved my visit there. Just be careful of the beggars. They will do just about anything to get your wallet or bag.

    If you can, you have to visit the Pont Des Arts Bridge (if you will be in that area) it’s a bridge that’s covered in locks. It was amazing to see. You can even add your own lock.

  10. Linda says:

    You should try to use priceline for whatever you can (flights,hotels,cars) :) I’m not even sure how it works for Europe though, I’ve only used it for North America. Good luck, Krystal! Have fun.

  11. Robin says:

    I wouldn’t get a bigger backpack for traveling… lugging 80L of stuff around the world truly sucks! I traveled with a 35L bag and loved it… I always felt bad for travelers heaving huge bags on the bus, and with only 35L you can be sure that you won’t be over-packing. Just a thought… if you want to take the minimalist approach, I’d make use of the 60L pack you already have, and save the $400!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I absolutely cannot use a 60L pack. I’ve already tried, hahaha. Since we will be stationary and not moving around like a backpacker, I don’t think a big pack will be much of a bother. My plan is to lug 80L worth of stuff there (since I’ll need winter/spring/summer clothes), and then ship back my winter clothes once it starts to get warmer. Then when we go traveling in August, I will have a much lighter pack than what I brought with me.

      • nic says:

        @Krystal Yee: I second not going for such a large bag. I moved to the UK from New Zealand in 2010 with a 70l suitcase and a 32l pack. Wayyy more hassle than it was worth! Believe it or not they sell clothing all over the world, even in Germany :) Take less stuff, and if you find you really need something buy it there – then it doubles as a souvenir.

        When I leave London next month (as I’m nearly at the end of my work visa) I am backpacking Europe for 6 months on the way home: I am taking the 32l bag and THATS IT.

        Seriously, take a smaller pack!

        • I’m with the others-I took too large a bag when I moved to Scotland for a year and it was more of a pain to travel with than I thought. I definitely could have used a much smaller pack when we did weekend trips or I took the summer to backpack. I also didn’t end up using a lot of what I ended up bringing as what I thought I needed ended up being a lot different once I was there.

  12. Country Girl says:

    What an adventure! Good luck with the apartment hunting. I hope Stuttgart has gotten the google streetscapes treatment so you can check out potential neighbourhoods while you’re looking for an apartment.

  13. Katy says:

    I just logged into my reader and had 30 new entries from you!! Don’t think I can get through them all tonight but I will soon. :P

    Anyway so exciting! A flight to Paris is only that much? I thought it would be a lot more. I’m going to France this summer for a month or so as a test-run so hopefully I can visit a country or two during my stay there. We should meet up!

    My sister lived in Paris for about 6 months I think, a couple of years ago for school and did a Euro-trip and spent very little money. If you need tips, her blog is so just ask her. I’m sure she’ll be more than excited to give you tips. I already got her to start a google doc for me of tips and things to do in Europe, especially France.

  14. Beth says:

    When I got my working holiday visa for Germany, it only took me about a week for it to be processed, and if I remember correctly, it was free or nearly free.

    I hope SWAP didn’t hose you! I know they have some networks etc in Europe but I have also heard they can be a bit useless. German tourist/working holiday visas are the easiest to get and French and Britian have reputations for being the most difficult.

    • Beth says:

      @Beth: I just checked and the Youth Mobility Visa (the working visa for people 18-35 is free. It only takes one week to process according to the German consulate website as well. just an FYI for other people looking into this!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      When we were looking at getting a work visa for Germany, we were under a huge time crunch because of Nic’s job situation and because of the holidays. We needed to guarantee that we would have the visas by a certain time, and we weren’t confident that if we did it ourselves, we would be doing it properly. And that could have delayed the process. In the end, we were both glad we went through SWAP. They found a couple of errors on both of our applications, which were corrected before being processed.

  15. Barbara says:

    Hi, Krystal,

    Hey — you MUST join, also you can try You can find all manner of places to stay (someone’s couch) and people to meet up with in all cities around the world (sort by age, occupation, interests, level of contact (couch to sleep on, coffee, walk, advice). I hosted a Swedish girl biking to South America one night here in deepest darkest southern Ontario — in the middle of winter.


  16. Renee says:

    Sounds super expensive, but its a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure. And hopefully that pesky Murphy will stay away and keep the unexpected expenses with him!

  17. Charmaine says:

    I went through SWAP to move to England for a year. It was a great experience! Have fun in Germany & remember to travel lots… its not everyday that you have access to flights that are less than $100 to almost everywhere in Europe. I did a lot of weekends (and extended weekends) in a lot of different countries (Norway, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Spain, and of course Germany) for less than $400 each trip. That wouldn’t even cover half the cost of a flight from Vancouver.

  18. Michelle says:

    I’ve had great success with Priceline and found two fantastic webforums (webfora?) where people share information about which hotels participate in which zones (so you have an idea of what to expect) and how best to use re-bidding strategies in order to get the best deal — check out and I have not, however, used it to bid on less than 4 star hotels in Europe since the hotel you get can be a bit of a surprise so I was quite cautious. I used it 3 times in London and managed to get two different stays at the Hilton Hyde Park for $83 and $84 a night and the Holiday Inn Regent’s Park for $88 a night. I think that people have managed similar results in Paris, it depends on many factors though as to how low you can snag a room.

  19. Jerry says:

    That’s great that you get reimbursed on your insurance. I hope that all the preparations leads to smooth travels!

  20. Definitely a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime! I absolutely love Paris and got a chance to spend a month there last year. So excited that you’re going to Europe!

  21. Deep in debt says:

    Very excited to hear about your experiences of living in Germany! I’ve always wanted to live elsewhere for a while but I’ve allowed having debt to get in the way. Working on that now…

  22. hollyjane says:

    I keep checking back because I am so excited for you! I hope you put both the Canadian & the Euro price for everything! Please take lots of pictures & post them (I’ve never seen pictures on here but why not start now!)

  23. I think you will be extremely lucky if you could limit yourself on spending $3,000 only for your relocation.

    It cost us more than $12,000 to do it. Good luck and keep us posted.

  24. Matt says:


    I am currently saving up for my trip to Patagonia, so it has been awesome to read about your plans to go to Europe. Was your flight to Paris $648 one way or is that round trip? I am trying to get an idea of what I should pay to go to South America and back.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I am so jealous of your trip to Patagonia! That’s been on my list for years. My flight to Paris was one-way, and apparently that is a pretty decent price. I’m sure if we had more time to book our flights, we could have gotten a better price. But we had to book immediately otherwise our visas couldn’t get processed.

  25. LeeAnn says:

    Hi Krystal,
    Not sure if you’ve covered this already, but I’m so curious to know what you’re doing with your condo when you move? Housesitter, tenant, selling?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I’ve got someone that is going to come by and take care of it often while I’m gone. My building doesn’t allow rentals, so I can’t rent it out – not that I’d want to anyway, being out of the country.

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