In the near future, I am planning on moving to China for the purpose of learning Mandarin and experiencing the culture.
Budgeting is a tricky thing. You have to be able to adequately plan for the future and guesstimate costs. Even moving to a new city inside the United States can be very tricky. How do you find a job? How can you find a place to live? Is it the right neighborhood? How do you get all your stuff there?
I plan on going to China to study for about a year. I'll probably move to one of the less expensive schools I discussed here. We'll use Jilin University in Changchun as an example.
Recurring monthly costs:
Total recurring expenses: 3,550 RMB per month
One time expenses:
Total one time expenses:: $2,900 + 16,00 RMB
I figure I will be able to store what little possesions I need to keep with family in a nearby state. Everything else I will sell or dump. I probably will keep my car, but this means the connected expenses of finding a place to store it and insuring it. So perhaps I will get rid of it as well. With a little help, I figure $5,000 will probably be enough to get started back up when I return to the states (find a job, get an apartment, etc).
Total return expenses:: $5,000
Notice that I didn't convert from RMB to dollars yet? That's because I'm concerned about the possibility that the RMB will keep appreciating against the dollar. We'll run with my projected exchange rate from that post of 6.9 RMB to the dollar.
Recurring expenses: 3,550 x 12 = 42,600 RMB / 6.9 = $6,173.91 USD
One time expenses: $2,900 USD + 16,000 CNY / 6.9 = $2,900 + $2,318.84 = $5,218.84
Returning expenses: $5,000.00 USD
Total cost: $16,392.75
Add a margin of safety for unknowns of 20%, and it'll be just about $20,000.