Overhead on Life – Why I Live Abroad and Spend Less Money


Today I want to talk about the overhead on your life. That is, How much you spend just to live and take care of all of your basic necessities on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month basis?

I was just on my balcony appreciating the view that I have and thinking to myself: “God, I paid $250 US dollar a month for a place like this!” My total cost of living is in the ballpark of 500 to 700 US dollars per month, and I get to live a very good lifestyle here.

It got me thinking about how much we pay just to live, depending on where we are in the world.

When you’re living in a place like New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, (I say these because I’m from the US, but many of these examples would also ring true in many European cities) it’s more expensive just to cover your basic cost of living. That means “How much am I paying for my apartment?”, “How much should I pay for my food?”, “my exercise?” (if I have to get a gym membership – you might not consider that a necessity but the point still remains) we spend so much more just to live.

I find it ironic that we pay more money for all the things that we’re going to be doing anyway.

This really started to settle in on me when I first moved to South Korea, because I was only making about 2,000 US dollars per month (which seemed like nothing at the time, especially in comparison to what my friends were making). The cost of living there was only about 1,000 dollars a month – so that enabled me to save 1,000 dollars a month! Despite the fact that I was making probably a quarter of what I could have been making, I was actually saving more money at the end of the day because my overall cost of living was so much cheaper.

I think that this is something people do not often consider enough, and it’s a big reason why the digital nomad movement has exploded recently. That’s why you see all these people living and working from Thailand and Bali and all these other places around the world – because they can earn USD and then take that money and go live in a different part of the world and – do it much more cheaply.

If I can earn in US dollars and not live on US expense costs, then why would I go do that when I can go to live on a beach in Thailand (or somewhere else along those lines) or have that location independence?

I also say this to my parents. My parents are starting to plan their retirement now and I always try to express that, if you would take this money and go to a different country you would effectively quadruple your money overnight! The cost of living and purchasing power would would enable you to live a great lifestyle, but do it somewhere else. You don’t need to be in US anymore.

I really encourage you to take a deep look at “how much money do I spend on a weekly and monthly basis for my basic necessities?” and think about, if you lived somewhere else in the world, how could you live more cheaply and save more money?

It’s not about what you make, it ends up being about what you are able to save

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