So you want to be an expat. Or maybe you don’t, but after reading this you may consider it.
If moving abroad is already on your to-do list, you still may not have decided where to go but you should have an objective. Why do you want to move abroad?
If a lower cost of living is part of your goal, then you’ve got a good idea.
Having to spend less on rent, food, and utilities will make your money go a much longer way. And the natural result of spending less on basic living expenses will be that you end up with a lot more cash.
But living abroad, even for a short time, is a sacrifice.
If you have a spouse and children, will they agree to moving and how might each member of the family adjust to a new country? If you fly solo, you’ll miss out on lots of important moments back home for a time.
Would it be worth it? What difference will it make if your motivation is financial and your family will have the chance to stop living paycheck to paycheck, returning home after a year or two abroad with $20,000*, $40,000 or more in your bank account?
There’s a specific way to go about moving abroad to save money. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and exaggerate your ability to live like royalty in a 3rd world country. For this strategy to work, the following MUST apply to your situation:
- You have a steady income source that will allow you to work anywhere. This income must be earned in a strong currency that is equal to or greater in value than of the currency in your own country where you’ll eventually return to live and invest.
- You’re willing to move to a developing or economically challenged country where the cost of living is low.
- You can resist temptations to live extravagantly when you have extra money on hand and won’t go crazy spending on luxuries and gadgets.
Let’s go over each essential element to this strategy 1 by 1. We’ll start with the need for the ability to work from anywhere.
Steady Work From Any Location
If you’re thinking that this plan will allow you to backpack all over the globe while spending your evenings singing Kumbaya around the campfire with the locals, that’s not quite the idea.
If you’re moving abroad to stockpile cash you’ll need a normal(ish) job and a boss that lets you work from any place you like. If you’re a consultant or freelancer, this may be even better as long as you have a steady client base.
No matter how you get paid, your gross income should realistically be at least $55,000 per year because you’ll need enough to maintain a decent living standard while saving money.
Let’s break down what your monthly cost of living might be like in countries abroad where this plan would work:
Rent for a 1-3 bedroom abode with modern conveniences: $250-$1,200
Car Service (like taxis or ride sharing apps) $100
You can also rent a vehicle on a monthly basis which I don’t suggest because that’ll hugely cut into your savings. An alternative would be to buy a used vehicle while you’re abroad and sell it when you leave. In developing countries where there’s no vehicle manufacturing, used cars may barely lose or even increase in value over time due to demand.
Food, Groceries & Eating Out for a family of 4 $700
Utilities Electricity, Gas, Internet, Misc $100
Clothing for a family of 4 $400
So for the basics, you’ll likely pay $1,500–$2,600 monthly in a developing country abroad. At the low end of this budget, with a $55,000 gross income you’ll be able to save roughly $3,080 per month, minus whatever your tax liability is.
That’s $36,960 per year.
At the high end $1,980 would be your approximate monthly savings before taxes, and after 12 months that’d be $23,760.
Yes, I know that article is title “You Can Save $20,000 Per Year By Living Abroad” and in both cases we’re over that amount, but you’re going to have other expenses like medical, charity, business, travel, leisure, and unplanned costs.
Living In A Challenged Country
You have to be open-minded to move abroad. The first thing to consider is that you may end up with semi-permanent jet lag due to working across time zones and life will be nothing like it is back home, no matter where you go. If you move to a country with an overall lower cost of living, you may need to be willing to move to a country that’s still developing.
Some of the popular countries of choice for expats seeking to save are:
You will need to check visa regulations in any country you decide to live in to ensure that you will be allowed to stay for an extended period of time and what the entry and short-term residency costs may be.
Picture this: Six months have gone by and you now have $10,000 in the bank. You can actually afford to buy things you wouldn’t dare before. $200 sneakers. Lobster dinners. And yes, those luxuries are available in developing countries.
But will those things help toward your long term goals?
One thing to remember is that the purpose of this money is to one, build up an emergency fund so you’re no longer living on the edge and two, to invest it for the future. So even if it’s possible while living abroad, you’ll have to resist the temptation to live a king.
Before you even move, set limits on how much you’ll treat yourself or risk your journey abroad losing its financial purpose.
After all is said and done, how will this extra $20,000 or more really help you and your family? Throughout this process, you should spend time conducting research on how to be invest this money to keep your financial improvement momentum going. Leaving all of it in your savings account won’t do much for you at all.
I hope this helped you to see how you can legitimately use your remote work capability to start building your nest egg. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments section.
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*All values in this article are in US Dollars.