Ways to Save Money Living Abroad
Saving money can mean sacrifice. I’m sorry, but it’s true. If your objective is to have a healthy bank balance, then you may have to give up a certain lifestyle. Even though the cost of living can be relatively cheap where you’re teaching English, it can quickly add up to being just as expensive anywhere compared to your salary. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun! Don’t miss out on opportunities for the sake of saving a bit of money. You only live once so do not deprive yourself of any unique experiences you’ll regret not doing. Here are our tips to save money when living abroad
Prioritize Your Spending
What are the things that bring a smile to your face? Do you like to go to an Instagrammable café for coffee and have a delicious brunch? Are you a movie-goer who wants to see all of the new releases? Or are you someone who loves to gather their friends and go out on the town and hit the trendiest bars?
Whatever activity makes you the happiest, you should continue doing this. Just set a budget on how much you’re willing to splurge on this event per week and limit how many times you can do it so that you don’t break that budget.
Once you decide what it is that makes you happiest, get rid of the things that you thought were important to you but you can live without. These choices can be quite hard to make but can be easier when you’re living in a new environment and can have a new lifestyle that fits your money saving goals.
Do as the Locals Do
If you want to save money while living abroad, try not to seek out home comforts and avoid the temptation to do as the other expats do. Foreigners will tend to dine out in restaurants that cater to their Western tastebuds and they will pay prices closer to back home for it. If you want to save money while living in a foreign destination, then do as the locals do. Go for dinner at the local street restaurant where it might look grubbier than you’re used to but you will pay about a quarter the price for the exact same thing in the shopping centre.
Learn to Cook at Home
This tip is debatable depending on where you decide to live. In some South East Asia countries, it can actually be cheaper to eat out in the evening for dinner at the local restaurant rather than buying groceries in to cook if you’re buying imported goods. Buy from the local shops the fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown in the country.
It can be so tempting when you move into your new place to put your own individual stamp on it. You’ve seen the local furniture shop down the street selling these cute chairs made of bamboo, or the cushions you’ve spotted on your way to work which are much more colourful than the drab ones already in your place. Resist the urge to make changes. You might only be there for a year and as long as everything works and is usable, then persisting with what’s been provided could end up saving you a lot of money.
If you end up loving your new life in the country you’ve decided to teach English abroad in and can see yourself settling in for a long time, then ignore this advice. It’s important to feel comfortable in your home if you want to really make it a cosy home for yourself. Facebook community groups are a great place to buy used furniture for half the price.
Do Free Activities
Going for a walk along the beach to catch sunset is an uplifting activity that you can do for free. A hike along a scenic nature trail doesn’t cost a penny and is good exercise. You don’t need to join a gym if you can do your yoga at home and jog through the park or on the side of the road. There are some things in life that don’t require you to open up your wallet.
Figure Out Transportation
When you’re living abroad, especially somewhere chaotic that’s too hot and humid to walk anywhere, the temptation to use taxis is a huge one. However, taking a taxi ride here and there to everywhere will quickly add up. Local apps such as Grab and GOJEK in South East Asia are usually cheaper methods than the standard taxi service.
By using public transportation methods such as the metro line or the local bus will save you a lot of money in getting around. If you’re comfortable enough to drive a scooter, this can be a cheap and popular method of getting around lots of countries in South East Asia. In Indonesia, a full tank of petrol in a scooter can cost just €3.
Record Your Expenditures
Little things that you buy here and there throughout the week could end up paying for your monthly accommodation once you add it all up. You’d be surprised how much you could be spending without realizing it. You’ll pay for dinner on this night, lunch the next, an activity on another day and say ‘It’s only €15, €5, €10, which is nothing compared to what you’d be spending back home.’ Until then you realize you’ve spent all of your money and even the cheap things feel expensive.
Record your daily expenditures and be cutthroat if you’re trying to save money with what you actually need in your life. Remember to prioritise and budget. Give yourself small allowances but don’t break your limits because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and again, until you’ll be left wondering where all your money has gone.
Set Yourself Up
If you’re going to live somewhere long-term then look into setting up a bank account in that country. This will save you on transfer fees. Also sign up for travel friendly bank cards such as Revolut that offers no withdrawal fees. A withdrawal fee might seem small but could add up to several hundred euros over the course of the year.