Living Abroad on a Budget: 11 Ways to Save Money

spellbound travels living abroad on a budget

Living abroad can be one of the best experiences you can have as an adult. It provides you with many opportunities you may not have unless you decide to branch out and try something different. It’s an exciting time but many people don’t end up doing it because they let their fears get the best of them or use money as an excuse. I’m here to tell you that living abroad on a budget is possible and I’ll share my best money saving tips so that you can do it too!

11 Tips for Living Abroad on a Budget

Whether you’re studying abroad or just deciding to spend a year doing a Working Holiday Visa in Australia (like I did), there are many ways you can save some cash.

1. Choose the right place

Did you know that you can can live incredibly cheap in certain countries? This website is a great place to compare living expenses between your current country and the place you hope to live! If you’re from North America or many European countries, you’ll probably find that your dollar will go quite far in Asian and South American countries, opposed to living in Canada, New Zealand or Australia, for example.

Once you’ve decided on a country, it’s important to keep in mind that different cities and towns could vary greatly when it comes to living expenses. If you hope to live in a more expensive country, you might want to consider your location. You could live just outside of the downtown core for a lot less than being right in the heart of the city.

2. Find the right job

If you’re leaving a job behind at home and will be on the hunt for a new one, how can you make sure you make the most amount of money? I personally found the best jobs to vary depending on the country.

For example, I worked short term administrative contracts with a university in Australia ($41 AUD/hr), tutored local children in English ($30 AUD/hr cash) and found other office jobs. With that being said, many restaurant/cafe jobs paid around $20 AUD/hr cash in hand. Cash jobs are great because then you don’t have to worry about tax deductions at the end of the year.

While these jobs paid well in Australia, working at a bar in Asia, for example, might not pay as well. Instead, you might want to looking for English teaching jobs that pay around $20-25 USD/hr. In countries such as Vietnam, this money can go a long way!

When it doubt, turn to recruiters for the best job options that match your existing skills.

3. Research food options

As you can imagine, making your own food is almost always going to be the cheaper option when living in a new country! Do your research and look out for the cheapest grocery stores or markets. I was spending around $50 AUD for groceries each week while living in Australia until I realized I could get all of my fresh produce at a market for $7/8!! That took my bill down to around $30 AUD/week, saving me an extra $20 each week.

4. Avoid buying new clothes

While it might not always be easy, try your best to avoid shopping. If you need new clothes, always seek out thrift stores or op shops. Not only are they a more sustainable choice BUT you’ll also save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars!

5. Getting from A to B

Of course, hoping in an Uber will usually be the fastest way to get around but it will also be the fastest way to run out of money. Don’t be afraid of public transit, biking or walking to your destination. You’ll have the opportunity to see a lot more of your new city and will without a doubt end up being in the best shape of your life from running for trains or walking over 10k steps every day!

6. Get yourself a library card

As Arthur once said, having fun isn’t hard if you’ve got a library card! 😉 

If you’re a book worm or just simply looking to pick up a new skill, get a local library card. Usually, all you need is a lease agreement to prove you live in the area and then you can access thousands of books for free. It’s also a better option when compared to taking a bag of books everywhere you go. Instead, listen to audiobooks or read ebooks while you’re on public transit or at the beach!

7. Look up student discounts

It never hurts to look for student discounts. Many places offer heavily discounted or free entry to places for students or those under 25 years old. Take advantage if you want to save some money!

8. Free events

You’re not living abroad on a budget unless you’re attending free events. Stay on top of local social media accounts or go through blogs to find free events happening near you. You can also take advantage of the nature you have around you. Are there national parks or places for hiking nearby?

9. Set up new bank account

When you’re living abroad, you’ll need to open a new bank account. Wiring your money from your bank account at home to your new account can be costly. If you want to avoid the fees, up your daily limit and take out the max amount of money you can from your affiliate bank abroad. This way, you won’t have to pay to take cash out.

For example, I’m with Scotiabank in Canada and the affiliate bank is Westpac in Australia so I opened an account with Westpac and took money out directly with no ATM fees. Then I deposited that money directly to my new account in Australia. It took a little longer to move most of my money than other methods but I saved heaps!

10. Join gym with best promotion

If you plan on joining a gym, wait until they have a good promotion. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to do a few trials and get some free gym time in! That way you don’t have to commit and while you’re testing out different places you’re likely to find a promotion or deal that works with your budget.

11. Get creative when it comes to drinking

It’s no secret that you can waste a lot of money on alcohol. When I lived abroad, I found a few ways to avoid a massive tab at a bar or club.

  • Pub crawls – Many pub crawls will include a few free drink tickets and women usually get in for free!
  • Pre drinking at work events – During the time I spent living and working in Australia, a few of my workplaces had Friday socials after work where alcohol was provided.
  • Subscription services – Subscription services such as Naked Wines have promotions or referrals where you can get a large percentage off of your first order. Doing so can land you expensive bottles of wine for $4/5 a pop and it will be delivered right to your doorstep!

Where will you choose to live?

Living abroad on a budget doesn’t have to be hard! You can still have an incredible time and meet amazing people along the way. The only question is, what country will you choose?

I’ll be back next week with another blog but in the meantime, you can stay up to date with my adventures over on my Instagram and TikTok!


Amy x

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spellbound travels living abroad on a budget money saving tips

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