How to Live Cheaply in a Foreign Country

If you are willing to leave behind the USA, UK, Australia or other high cost expensive country and live in a foreign country, you can live or retire on $500 per month.


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    Decide if you can do it. Leaving your country and moving to another country can be a difficult experience for some people. In fact, even the stouthearted will have feelings of homesickness. Plus, you will have many new experiences and face many problems. Can you deal with that?
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    If you are married and you want to retire to a foreign country, you need to consider the thoughts of your spouse and or children. If you are separated, divorced, or never married, then you can make the decision yourself.
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    See if you have enough money to leave your country and move to another country. You need money for an airline ticket, and at least 6 months of living expenses to get settled.
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    Consider teaching English in a non-English speaking country. This can pay very well, so you get savings plus life in a foreign country.
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    Pick a country. A good choice right now is the Philippines (if you have no desire to learn another language, they all speak English) or China (if you are willing to learn at least some of the local language).
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    Pick a city. Pick one that is safe. A mid-size city with many universities is best. In this environment, you can make many friends which is critical to your success.
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    Do some research. Learn about the location you are going to. Buy some books such as Lonely Planet or similar guide books. Also make sure you check the level of air pollution of that city.
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    Find a community or dating website that has people from that location. Try to make some friends in the city you will be living in. Do not bother with people outside or in the distant suburbs of your target city. You need friends who are close by to help you with getting settled.
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    Get a passport. You need one to travel outside your country in most cases.
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    Get a visa. You may need visa to get into the target country.
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    Pack up your things. Remember, you can pay the airline for extra boxes if needed. Or you can have them shipped. If shipping, FedEx is always best. Don't rely on the new country's postal system.
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    If possible visit your target city as a tourist first for a week (or two) to get the feel of the place and see if you really would like to live there. Does it feel safe to walk the streets at night? How do the locals treat foreigners? Remember that as a tourist you will probably get a romantic impression of the country. Living there may be a totally different ballgame. Make sure you meet some expats who have been living there for a few years and ask them about their experiences.
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    When you get to your target city, check into a 2 or 3 star hotel. You should be able to find one for $25 a night in China, for example.
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    Meet your friends you made on the internet. Meet them in a public place at first. They will ask if they can help you. Say yes. Try to improve your relationship by eating some food or by visiting some of the local tourist spots together. Be very careful with the local food and drinking water at first. Check whether it is safe to drink the tap water.
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    Continue to make friends with people you are meeting. After some time, you will meet people with connections, and they can help you find a nice apartment or a job, if you need one.
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    Slowly rebuild your life in the new country - enjoying freedom from the current rat race of American society.
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    If possible, get a tourist visa first and visit the country to personally observe it. Nothing is more accurate than the true experience, and you might eventually realize that living in another country is not for you.


  • You need to worry about your visa. Try to get one that is as long a term as possible. You will have to renew this often over time. Get information from the embassy of the country you want to move to about the costs and frequency of visa renewals, whether the visa will allow you to work there or not, whether you will have to leave the country every time you need to renew your visa or not. Visas can be the most frustrating aspect of living in another country.
  • Investigate whether you're better to sign up for a job with a company before you leave. In some industries it's best to wait until you are physically there so you can negotiate your wage. In other industries, such as education, it's far better to secure an 'international contract' before you leave. Such a contract will often include return airfares, accommodation, visas and work permits. Do your research - chat on line to professionals in your field for advice.
  • A country that is fast developing with a healthy economy is the best choice. For example, China. True "third-world" countries are cheap, but perhaps not as comfortable as a developing country like China or India.
  • Open a bank account in your new city. Put your money in the bank.
  • Picking a city is important. Make sure it has a number of large, respected, universities. This is critical as the universities affect the local culture. Culturally open cultures, like Mexico(Mexicans, Cubans and Brazilians, you might say are the warmest-hospitably human beings on the planet, so if you feel you have to be in a warm, foreign-embracing environment, you should definitely consider Mexico as the place to be), are the best call for English-speakers(Guadalajara has great universities, it is not that polluted as Mexico City, cleaner and not that crowded, also you will find the most prestigious private universities in the country). Besides, two thirds of Guadalajara's population, according to recent studies performed by the Public University there, speak fluent English, so this means you will feel just like home down there!
  • Bring old photos of your self and other things that define you as a person like your hockey shirt or something. Remember, you will be making new friends. These things will help you do that.


  • When meeting people for the first or few times until you have determined if they are at all trustworthy, useful, or desirable as a friend, meet them in a public place.
  • Don't give your new friends money, PERIOD! Never loan them money. If there is some transaction that needs to take place for your own needs, like renting an apartment or buying a mobile phone, go with them and always handle the money. Be aware that in some countries the locals will expect you to pick up the tab whenever you go for a drink or a meal together.
  • Don't keep money in your hotel, apartment, or carry it around on you.
  • If you smoke, buy your own cigarettes and smoke them. Don't accept cigarettes from strangers. When drinking something, watch your drink so it is not possible for something to be added to it.

Things You'll Need

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Money
  • Sense of adventure

Article Info

Categories: Living Overseas