(by J.D. Roth)
This is a guest post from Gary Arndt, who has been traveling around the world non-stop since March 2007 and has visited over 80 countries. He blogs at Everything-Everywhere.com, which was named one of the 25 Best Blogs of 2010 by Time Magazine.
Let’s start with the obvious: Costs aren’t the same everywhere.
You may already be aware of this on some level, but until you’ve traveled extensively, it isn’t something you really understand. The cost of living in major cities can vary by as much as 500% or 1000%, depending on how you want to live. I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to reduce your living expenses as much as you can by living overseas.
Leaving the U.S. and choosing to live abroad (assuming you live in the right place) is the single biggest thing you can do to reduce the amount of money you spend. Period. Yes, it requires changes and sacrifices in other areas of your life, but if you’re looking for adventure and to radically cut your costs, nothing can beat living overseas.
The cost savings don’t just come from living in a cheap place, however; the very act of living abroad will bring changes to your lifestyle, which will produce additional savings.
Cost of Living
Every year, Mercer Resource Consulting issues a list of the most expensive places for American expatriates to live. What the list doesn’t capture is the magnitude in the difference in the cost of living between cities.
Take New York, for example. The smallest, dirtiest place you could find in Manhattan will probably cost you $1,500/month at the low end. This would be an unfurnished studio in one of the less trendy parts of town. This would, of course, probably be without an internet connection.
A nice, furnished, single-bedroom apartment in Bangkok can go for $400/month with internet included. I know people who rent less impressive apartments for $200/month. Bangkok is a vibrant city with all the stores you’d find in most major North American or European cities. The internet infrastructure is good, and there’s large community of expats and bloggers.