So you want to live abroad in your dream country, but don’t want to burn through your savings or retirement money doing it? Here are some tips on how to follow your dreams and save money while living abroad.
1. Get a Job
A job can be part-time or full-time. There are plenty of opportunities for long-term or short-term jobs! Plus, it’s a great experience to meet new friends and really fit into your new life.
Some examples of jobs that people I’ve met abroad have had are:
- Teach or privately tutor English (even on a volunteer basis, just to get out and do something). The Spanish government hired me to teach English abroad, but while I was working, I met many volunteer retirees doing the same thing in my school.
- Blog or write content articles. One great company that hires content writers is CopyPress (I worked for them while living in Spain).
- Be a nanny or house cleaner. Nannies usually live with their host families, making living costs very cheap.
- Open a bar if you’re abroad for the long haul. In smaller Spanish towns, this is very cheap with very few regulations, and many expats have done this. I imagine most of Europe has pretty lax laws about opening bars/restaurants.
- Open an art gallery. I met some Belgian expats in Spain who opened an art gallery and a bar specializing in Belgian beers.
- Work in a bar, restaurant, or hotel. Great way to meet locals and world travelers alike. Plus working in a hotel gets you huge discounts on your own travels in the future.
- If you’re in it for the long haul and speak a few languages, you can translate for the U.N. which my neighbor in Spain did!
There are plenty of job opportunities out there for expats and having a job really helps you feel like you’re really living there as a citizen rather than a visitor.
Blablacar is a money-saving transportation option for traveling to nearby destinations. It’s a ride-sharing service that will get you from point A to point B without putting much of a dent in your piggy bank. Blablacar is an online website where you can post your own trips with pricing for others to view and they will contact you if they want to pay to join your carpool. You can also search blablacar for trips you want to take and the prices are usually much less than public transportation and can be as close as a few miles, to as far as several hours away.
Blablacar is very popular in Europe, and I have been on both ends. I have ridden in the car with a host, and also been a host myself and had passengers join my car. You can view profiles and chat with people before getting in a car with them so you can get a feel of how safe the ride will be.
You will need lodging when traveling, and hotels.com is an excellent hotel site with thousands of options all over the world. There are plenty of sites like this out there, but hotels.com is nice because most hotels offer free cancellation and for every 10 hotels you book, you get one free night. On my year-long European adventure, I booked over 40 nights and had 4 free nights. Hotels.com also has the BEST rate, but if you’re a researcher like I am and you find a better rate, they will match it no questions asked and you still get to build your way towards that one free night. If you don’t have time to research, you can call and ask them if anyone else has found a better rate and they will match it.
Airbnb is an excellent choice if you want a more local experience instead of a hotel. On Airbnb, you can rent whole apartments, just a room in a house, or share a room in a house for a very low price. Don’t be afraid to just rent a room rather than a whole house – many bed and breakfasts put their rooms on Airbnb so technically you’re just renting a room from them, but it’s exactly what you’re used to from a hotel or B&B anyway.
Airbnb also has specialty lodging such as tree houses, caves, igloos, bungalows over the water, old converted trains, and anything else you can think of. Anyone can post their accommodations on Airbnb for rent, so the world is the limit. I’ve used Airbnb for rentals all over Europe and North America and I’ve never been disappointed.
Airbnb is extremely popular, especially in Europe. First time users receive a $35 discount if I recommend you! Airbnb $35 Discount
VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) is a popular American site for home rentals. It’s a bit harder to filter than Airbnb but there are plenty of good deals if you have the patience. You can see photos, prices, and contact information for available dates. My family uses this site every year to find prime time whole house rentals on the beach in Fort Myers Beach, Florida for Christmas week.
5. Flight Search Engines
Flights have different prices on each site, and no one site ever has the cheapest prices unfortunately. Flight searches require a lot of work. Fortunately, I’ve been researching flights for years and I have found a few good go-to flight search engines.
Kayak has great flights and is a good place to start if you know where you want to go and when. However, if you’re flexible and you know when you can go but want to know where it will be cheapest (or if you know where you want to go and want to know when it will be cheapest), try Google Flights or Skyscanner. Both of these sites are perfect for getting a great deal! They usually have an accurate listing of flights and prices, but check both just to be sure you’re getting the best price, then compare with Kayak.
Students and teachers get discounts on some airlines, and the sites don’t do a full check of whether someone is a student – all you need is a school name and they take your word for it! Try statravel.com (you will need to buy a $25 student card but it’s good for every flight forever after) or studentuniverse.com to see if your destination offers a student or educator discount.
6. Cheap Car Rentals
Car rental prices are drastically different depending on where you look. The #1 best site for car rentals is kayak.com. Kayak will find you unbelievable deals: I have rented cars for 30 days for only $40 total from kayak! Sometimes you can get a deal at economycarrentals.com or rentalcars.com and it’s good to compare kayak to these sites, but I have found kayak to be severely lower than any other site. However, kayak deals with local companies as well as national companies so you may not be familiar with the cars or companies they show you. I have rented from local car companies in Spain with no problems; as long as you’re good to the car, you will have no problems.
7. Incognito Window
In addition to the cheap flight and car sites, try using an incognito window when you search. Website cookies track your IP address and if you visit a specific page enough times, sometimes the site will raise the price because they know you want it badly enough and are willing to pay the price. If you search via the incognito window, they can’t keep track of your IP address and you will appear as a new user each time you search.
To do this in Google Chrome, click the 3 lines (settings) in the top right corner (next to the URL search bar) and click New Incognito Window. In Internet Explorer, click the cog wheel (settings) in the top right corner next to the home button and star, go to Safety, and click InPrivate Browsing (or just simply hold down Ctrl+Shift+P). In Mozilla Firefox, click the 3 lines (settings) in the top right corner next to the URL search bar and click New Private Window (with the mask). No history will be stored when you browse privately.
8. Locals’ Opinions and TripAdvisor Reviews
If you look like a tourist, you will probably get sucked into tourist restaurants and shops (read about how to avoid tourist traps here!) It’s easy to walk into a restaurant where someone is standing outside with a menu luring you in. Avoid these places!!! If someone is standing outside to entice customers in, it’s a trap. The good places don’t need someone to bring in business-word of mouth is all they need.
The best way to get in on the secret word-of-mouth places is to ask a local. Locals don’t go to the tourist traps because they’re expensive, gaudy, and not authentic. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the desk clerk. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, ask your host. Airbnb’s are great because the owners usually live in the town and know exactly where to go. If you’re only visiting on a day trip, go into a clothing or electronics store and ask the people who work there where to eat; they may not live in the town but they probably have lunch breaks and know a good nearby spot. If you want to try the true flavor of the region at the local price, ask a local where the best places are and avoid the tourist traps.
TripAdvisor is #1 in reviews when it comes to researching or finding a hotel, restaurant, or attraction. There are thousands of reviews for just about everything so you can take a general average of what real people rate things to know if it’s good or not. Make sure you read a good amount of reviews of each star rating so you’re not swayed by one bad experience or one great experience. Get to know the low-down on the place to decide if it’s worth it or not!
How do you save money while living abroad? How do you save money while traveling? It’s a tricky business, but you can definitely do it!
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