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20 Ways to Save Money While Living Abroad

20 Ways to Save Money While Living Abroad

You’ve decided you want to move abroad, congrats! Now it’s time to sort out the financial details and other aspects that come with a big move. The process will be a little different than if you were moving in your home country as now you’ll have to figure in the different average costs of living, different currency/exchange rate, and different spending practices. 

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Your spending and saving habits will fluctuate greatly depending on where you are headed, but it is best to have a financial plan set before you go and after you arrive so you can continue to budget and save abroad. If you’re looking to stretch your dollar after you make the leap overseas check out out tips on how to save money while living abroad.

Is it hard to save money while living abroad?

Depending on your spending habits and where you live, it can be. But overall saving money while living abroad is not as difficult as one would think. Yes, you’ll be spending a lot of money while you get settled but there are many ways to continue to cut your costs while you explore your new country.

It helps to prepare beforehand and be strategic about your purchases once you’ve moved. It also helps to try some new techniques and change some existing habits. Saving money abroad is all about what you prioritize, whether that’s going to the gym, traveling, or business needs, prioritizing and budgeting are essential steps on how to save money while living abroad.

20 ways to save money while living abroad

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1. Try to pay off as much debt as you can before heading off

Before even setting off, create a plan to pay off as much debt as you can! Student loans, credit card debt, etc.—minimize them however you can. If that means spending a little more time at home saving up, working odd jobs, living with friends, siblings, or parents, then do it. The burden of debt can’t be ignored and it is not fun to deal with abroad. 

2. Open a savings account dedicated to your move abroad

As early as you can before you move, open up a savings account that you can contribute to for moving abroad expenses. While paying off any debt, set some of your paycheck aside into this savings account. The more money you can have saved, the better! It’s best to plan for any unexpected expenses that may pop-up once you move. 

3. Only take what you can carry

Avoid shipping large items like furniture or vehicles. This is undoubtedly a huge waste of time, effort, and money; this money is better spent on buying these items once you move or not at all. Plan to board your flight with only as much as you can carry! You can always buy more clothes, furniture, etc. when you arrive. Less is more when moving abroad—not only will you save money but also a lot of hassle and headache that comes with trying to take too much. Take a look at these essential packing tips to help you with the process. 

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4. Use Wise and Revolut to make payments and get the best exchange rates

Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is the most popular way to transfer money between your U.S. account and an account abroad. It offers the best exchange rate at the current moment and has instant transfers. 

 

Similarly, Revolut is the fastest growing digital bank that offers affordable exchange rates and easily allows you to switch between currencies like USD, GBP, and the Euro. It comes with a digital and physical debit card that can be used just about anywhere. Transferring money to friends or family has never been easier or cheaper. 

5. Open and contribute to a savings account in your new home

If you’re earning money in the local currency when you move abroad, open a savings account there and immediately start contributing to it. Similar to how you contributed to one before heading off, do the same abroad! This will continue to help alleviate the burden of any unexpected expenses that come with moving over.

6. Shop local

It’s all about shopping local! Chain stores are great, but the deals are found when you shop for local products and support local businesses. For example, you’ll save more money if you shop at small produce stores rather than large supermarket chains. The same goes for second hand clothing over fast fashion stores.

7. Make local friends and offer to do a cultural exchange

Connect with locals in your area by going to co-working spaces, language exchanges, local tours, gastronomic tours, and the likes. These are great ways to get to know your new city as well as socialize with others. You may just make a new friend in the process! In these exchanges, you can potentially save money on language classes, eating out, and additional local activities/events that your new friends may have insight on.

8. Find discounts on activities

Discount sites like Groupon have countless deals on services and activities in numerous cities around the world. Explore discount sites for any activities you would like to do and snag yourself a deal! Usually, there are more deals on group activities if you can bring along some friends.

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9. Use public transport

Depending on the city you’re moving to there will be some sort of accessible and affordable forms of transport. As you know, having a car comes with a large financial burden so taking advantage of public transport can save you tons of money! This is also a great opportunity to not only save, but to get to know your new city better.

If you do have your eyes set on buying a vehicle, get established in your new home first to make sure you need one and also to save up!

10. Take free tours

There’s always some sort of offer of free tours in lots of cities around the world, so take advantage! Free walking tours are a personal favorite. These types of tours are a great way to get to know your new city and also meet other locals or tourists. And one of the perks is that you’ll  get great recommendations from locals on where to go and what to see. 

11. Capitalize on free entry days to museums, expositions, and other entertainment

The local art scene is great to explore once you arrive. It gives you a sense of the history, culture and present times of your new home. Research free and discounted entry days and times  to expositions or museums and never pay full price!

12. Learn to navigate international taxes

This will probably be one of the most difficult tasks you’ll have to tackle while living abroad. Let’s face it, navigating taxes in your home country isn’t always easy, so with the added burden of paying taxes in more than one country, it can get incredibly overwhelming.

Your tax situation will depend on where you live, how long you live there, your income bracket, and more—since everyone has different circumstances, it is highly recommended that you consult with an international tax lawyer to establish everything you will need to do once you move abroad.

 

Unfortunately, the U.S. is one of the very few countries that require its citizens to file taxes while living abroad (even though you may not owe anything, you still have to file; I know…take that up with the IRS).

13. Minimize essential spending

Your essentials expenses abroad will be similar to your essentials back home. You’ll need to account for costs such as: an apartment/house, electricity, food, a cell phone, health insurance….and anything else you deem as absolutely necessary.

Ways you can save- Don’t need much data since you work from home? Get the cheapest cell phone plan. Prefer to cook at home and meal prep? Prioritize local supermarket shopping to minimize the costs of eating out. 

 

Do your research and budget how much you want to spend in each of these buckets. Compare companies and rates to find the best deal and to ensure you’re not getting ripped off.

14. Work exchange or volunteer for free accommodation

Work exchanges and volunteering are available around the world! People need help and they have extra space to house people. You can literally almost do any type of work—from working with a non-profit to farmstays to house sitting to working in a hostel and beyond! This is a win-win for both parties, especially since accommodation is one of the largest expenses on a trip. 

 

If you want to get started create an account on sites like WorkAway, WWOOF, or similar sites and check out their offerings to see where you can volunteer in exchange for accommodation.

15. House sit or pet sit

House sitting and pet sitting have become incredibly popular in the past few years. This is a great option for pet lovers around the world to get the opportunity to stay at someone’s house and take care of their animals in exchange for free accommodation and sometimes the use of their vehicle. Check out these resources to learn more about house sitting and one of the most popular house sitting platforms, TrustedHousitters.

16. Get a side hustle

A side hustle is additional paid work that you do outside of your main job. And nowadays the types of side hustles you can do are endless! You can do consulting, create an Ebook, teach English, freelance write, teach an online course, sell digital/physical products on Etsy, etc. Get some more ideas in this list of in-demand remote gigs. By just spending a few hours a week on you side hustle you can generate some extra spending income or savings for your life abroad. 

17. Use flight search engines to book your travels

The price of flights and fuel is on the rise so minimizing those costs can help you immensely, especially if you’re a big traveler. A tip and trick I like to find the best deals is to search for flights in incognito mode on Google Flights or Skyscanner. Make sure to research the best days to fly and the best times to search as deals come up and vanish quickly!

18. Don’t be afraid to haggle a little

There are two types of people in this world— those who love to haggle and those who don’t. While haggling norms depend on the country, in those where haggling is the norm, it truly is an art form.

If you’re a bit anxious just know that it is perfectly normal to try to bargain with vendors at places like local outdoor/flea markets. Of course, do this respectfully and simply ask for a lower price on an item and see what they say. You may be surprised at the deals you can get by shooting your best shot!

19. Go thrifting

Thrifting goes hand-in-hand with haggling and shopping local. Going thrift shopping is perfect for larger items you might need for your new home. You can find  great deals at city markets especially for items like furniture and clothing that can be up to half the price (or more!) for the same item in chain stores. Also see if there are any local Facebook groups that focus on selling used items or thrifting apps. 

20. Connect with other expats

When you move abroad you won’t be the only foreigner navigating a new life in a new country. Find people like you because connecting with others in a similar situation is not only beneficial from a financial perspective but from a social one as well! You can make friends, discuss mutual interests, and also get their perspective on how they’ve navigated finances abroad! First-hand perspectives are invaluable and you may just learn a few tricks from your new friends.

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How to save money while living abroad

Saving money while living abroad is feasible with the right preparation, thorough research, and new techniques and habits. Before you leave home, dedicate the time needed to map out a budget and expenses to have a realistic expectation of your future there. 

 

Come prepared so you can arrive with more peace of mind and excitement to enjoy your new life abroad (and not break the bank while doing it)!

If you’re looking to move to Europe check out the ultimate visa guide on the 17 easiest countries in Europe to move to (based on viable visa options). You’ll find over 50 visa options—and their requirements—including digital nomad visas, work visas, non-lucrative visas, student visas, investment visas and more so that you can move abroad! Make your dream of living in Europe long-term a reality! Grab your copy of I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe today!

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