WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 13, 2014
version 12, draft 12

Explore the World: How to Live Cheaply in a Foreign Country

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We’re curious beings by nature. We like to explore, experiencing all that the world has to offer. For many, moving to a foreign country is the ultimate adventure. It’s much more than a holiday. When you immerse yourself into a country, you begin to experience its true culture, food, and meet the people that call that destination home.

You build a whole new appreciation for what that places offers.

Although moving to a new country is great in theory, it can cost you a pretty penny too. You need to plan effectively so that you get the most out of your stay. You don’t want to arrive and realize that your money will be gone in a few months with no means to any income.

When you plan, you ensure that you’ll have the best time possible. You want to experience this country, not worry about buying food. Living cheaply in a foreign country is possible, you can embark on a journey unlike any other, but remember to plan well and consider the following topics in your preparations.

You may think that travelling within a foreign country for months at a time is only for the highly privileged. This isn’t always the case. If you’re serious about travel you can make your travel dreams a reality. Plan accordingly and make it work!

1. Choose the Right Destination

If you’re tight on cash, don’t expect to live in Paris or London for five months. When choosing your destination, get creative. There are so many gorgeous destinations with so much to offer in this world. A good portion of those destinations allow travelers to experience a whole new world for less than you’d expect.

Look into destinations that have a low cost of living. Although somewhere is cheap to live, consider your safety. You need to find a balance between cheap and safe. With that being said, there are a ton of destinations to choose from. Some of the top destinations for cheap travel are:

  • Panama
  • Ecuador
  • Malaysia
  • Spain
  • Nicaragua
  • Belize
  • Mexico
  • Guatemala and Honduras
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • Nepal

It really depends on where you’d like to visit, what you’d like to see, and what you’re looking to experience. Each country will have varying rules in terms of your visa status, so make sure you research well. Also consider travelling during their low season, as costs will be considerably cheaper

2. Take Your Time While Travelling

When you arrive in a foreign country, you are bound to be excited. You’re going to want to see and do it all. The only problem with moving around from spot to spot is that it chews up a good portion of your budget. Find a location you like and stay put, get comfy. If you’re bouncing around from location to location, you’ll never fully grasp that local culture.

When you stay in one location, you’re not only bound to spend less but also experience more. You can really get into the culture, living like the locals do. Many travellers meet some incredible locals that offer them advice and life changing experiences. Just remember to travel safe, that’s always number one. Be smart regarding the decisions you make.

3. Save Your Pennies

While you’re still at home, create a budget. Calculate your income, how much money do you have coming in each month? Now calculate your expenses. If you have outstanding debt, you should address this before you put all of your money towards travel. It really depends on the circumstance.

Your outgoing expenses will include; transportation (this may be your bus pass, your car payments, insurance, gas, whatever gets you from point A to point B), food, clothing, housing costs (rent, mortgage, bills), entertainment, medical (this will vary depending on the country you reside in), debt repayment (student loan, credit) and other (this could be pet food, gifts, etc.) Anything that you spend in a month will go into your outgoing expenses.

For example, if you make $3000 a month this will be your incoming funds. Now calculate your expenses:

Transportation: $600

Housing: $950

Food: $300

Entertainment: $100

Medical: $20

Clothing: $50

Debt Repayment: $200

Other: $80

Total: $2300

You now have a difference of $700 (Incoming-Outgoing= Balance). This balance should be put into a savings account for your travels. You will be amazed at how quickly this will add up if you start far enough in advance.

Certain jobs allow travellers to get their savings together quickly. Waitresses and waiters for instance can put aside majority of their tips. This can add up extremely quick. You just need to be smart about what you’re spending your money on prior to your departure.

4. Get a Little Side Job

If you’re staying in a hostel, you may notice flyers for seasonal work. Once again, always be cautious. You should never be staying in the absolute cheapest, worst hostels to begin with. Live cheaply, but don’t choose the absolute cheapest, dingiest option.

You may have already researched some job opportunities before you left. It’s great to build some contacts prior to your arrival. Look for odd jobs such as ’fruit picking’ or ’kitchen help.’ There are lots of odds jobs around. This will allow you to take part in all those little extra experiences you’d like to embark on.

If you get involved in a kitchen job, you may even score yourself some great local food for free. Saving money on food allows you to spend your money on adventure seeking activities.

5. Look Into Housing

If you haven’t looked before your arrival, stay in a hostel for the first week or so. Ask around for any places that are available to rent. You will be amazed at what is available. You may find an apartment by the beach for $350-$400 a month. Or a beach hut on the sands, depending on where you are these can be cheaper than you think. 

This will allow you to keep your belongings in a more secure location. It will also keep your housing costs fixed. Hostels are cheap to stay, but they’re generally a better option if you’re bouncing around from spot-to-spot.

If you plan on staying in one location, renting a room or apartment is your best bet in terms of cash, comfort, and safety.

So there you have it. Go explore what this beautiful world has to offer. Travelling can be a life changing experience that costs less than your living expenses at home. Embark on a journey that is cheap, safe, and incredible. Research, plan, and save! 

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