How do I budget for living overseas?

in Budget-friendly Countries/Moving Abroad by

In order to budget for a move abroad, you have to first know yourself.  Do you typically live a life of luxury?  Are you on a budget?  What are your non-negotiables?  Once you’ve made that conclusion, looking into countries that can provide what you need on your budget.

Some places are super cheap so you can live a life of luxury on a small budget, but some countries are very expensive if you want to live in the most metropolitan areas. Since we are a global society, you can enjoy any standard of living for the most part anywhere on earth, if you can afford it.

There are some places that are super cheap, and you can survive on a small budget such as Ecuador, India, and Thailand (outside Bangkok). In these places, your cost of living is artificially low because, frankly, there isn’t much for you to spend your money on. This is not to say that, in these places, you couldn’t enjoy a comfortable, interesting, exotic, even fun, exciting, and adventure-filled life. But you’d be living simply, because you’d have no option. The only life in these places is the simple life.

If cost of living is your primary motivation for thinking about moving to another country, we recommend you focus on these choices. If you’re not looking to move on a super-fixed income (of, say, US$1,200 a month or less), you have many good options, and here’s what we strongly suggest:

Other than cost of living, you also need to consider some other important things. Most important, your cost of living almost anywhere is controllable. It will not be the same as our cost of living in that same place or, necessarily, the cost of living in that place for anyone else you might speak with.

Most expense items–everything from housing to health care, from travel to entertainment, from your monthly grocery bill to your phone/cable/Internet–are hugely variable and can be managed.

You can live in the U.S. on a budget of $800/mo.  It just depends on where you live and what amenities you’re willing to live without.  If you can control your expenses effectively, you can make it anywhere on a small budget.  Ultimately, it comes down to personal requirements.  Some people are spending 5 times that to live in the same city.


Second, cost of living is a forever in flux, especially if you’re living in a country whose currency differs from the currency in which you derive your income.

The real point is that you can control your cost of living, within parameters, almost anywhere in the world.

So, while I can’t tell you how much it will cost you to live, I can help you build parameters and find something that can meet your budget.  I can also connect you with people already living in these places and give you broad and general guidelines for reference as a starting point.

One more thing before you get to the numbers. Just as a one-size-fits-all budget for living in any country is next-to-meaningless, so is any budget that claims to represent the cost of living in any country overall.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.