8 Ways to Save Money as an Expat Living Abroad

8 Ways to Save Money as an Expat Living Abroad

save money

There are plenty of reasons why people say goodbye to their family, friends and familiar routines – and hello to life as an expat. Perhaps it’s for a great job opportunity. Maybe it’s to immerse in another culture, embrace courage and tackle fears, and expand horizons.

But what’s more than clear is that no one trades in their comfort zone in order to become an expat pauper. Getting yourself set up from scratch in a brand new country is no cheap business, and without the right street smarts, research, tips, and advice, any financial gains can easily be gobbled up in a litany of unforeseen costs.

Not sure where to start for the best expat money saving tips? Why not right here?!

1. Stick to a budget

Perhaps you’ve embraced expat life because you’re a bit of a free spirit – and good on you! But if you take that free spirit attitude to your budgeting, you could find yourself penniless in no time flat.

Expat or not, we should all have some sort of budget and basically stick to it. But for the expat outside of the usual support network and facing a lot of upfront and unforeseen costs, it’s particularly important.

The key to a good budget is prioritization. Start with what’s important, which will often leave you with not too much left in the piggy bank for things you can probably do without. Anything saved, put into savings, investments or an emergency fund – because rainy days as an expat can be particularly rainy.

2. Compare prices

Like making a budget, comparing prices is also something everyone should do. But it’s especially important for an expat because you will lack a lot of the insider cultural knowledge that gives us a great intuition about what is a good price back at home.

We’re talking about the obvious things like mobile phone and other utility contracts, but also the less obvious ones like exchange rates. As an expat, you’re very likely to be transferring money quite regularly between Australia and your new home, and sticking to your familiar money transferring option like a major bank may give you anything but the best exchange rates.

For example, sticking with the Commonwealth Bank might be easy, but CBA exchange rates won’t stack up favorably against many specialist online providers – so long as you find the reputable ones with the best deals. So get comparing and save an awful lot of expat cash.

save money

3. Review your expat lifestyle

Back home, you might have stayed home with Netflix on quite a few Saturday nights explicitly to save money. But suddenly, you’re in an exotic overseas location and tempted to live the high life – and not quite having the income to back up that expensive lifestyle.

So without saying goodbye to a bit of glamour altogether, don’t lose sight of your actual expat plan – which may be to advance your career, grab new opportunities that will pay off in the future, and try to put some money away.

A smarter option for you might be to simplify your life and not blow it all in the high street shops, cafes, and clubs – and look back at your expat life one day in the future as a time in which you embraced adventure and a new challenge without wasting boatloads of money.

4. Make smart local choices

Life as an expat may mean you’re out of your comfort zone, but that can’t be an excuse for making silly choices with your money and blaming it on local ignorance.

Let’s take a big up-front expense as an example: furniture. It may be cheaper to set sail overseas without your furniture and then buy second-hand once you’re there. But you won’t be making the most of this ‘smart’ decision if you wander into the wrong second-hand shops and end up with a room full of expensive gear that cost more than just shipping your existing stuff over from Australia.

Another example is your weekly shopping. Back home, you knew instinctively what supermarkets and items were the best value, so you’ll have to get up to speed pretty quickly about acquiring the same local knowledge in your new country. Our advice? Make smart local friends, quick-smart.

5. Don’t stop investing

If you invested back home, don’t stop purely because you’re becoming an expat. Don’t forget the reason you invest in the first place is to build wealth – and being in a new location is a new and exciting money-making opportunity to potentially embrace.

Even getting started as a brand new investor might make sense in your adopted country, given the different currencies, jurisdictions, markets and tax treatments you may be exposed and entitled to.

It might also make great sense to put on your investment hat with regards to the life you’re leaving behind back home. For instance, you might consider renting out your house and investing the income in shares, stocks or another mortgage. Just make sure you can afford what you’re getting yourself into, do your research, seek some expert advice, and understand both the rewards and the risks.

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The final tip: Never stop looking for expat tips!

Of course, there are plenty of other money saving tips out there for expats, so the final tip is to never stop looking for them and putting them to good use! The expat lifestyle may be exciting and horizon-expanding, but with the right planning and advice, it can definitely make great money sense too. Good luck!


Advice for expat women – #WomenInPower with Laura O’Neill

We’re excited to continue our #WomenInPower video series with Laura O’Neill, co-founder

Laura O'Neill
Laura O’Neill

What is Women in Power? 

Ellevest talked to four successful women entrepreneurs in the food, fashion, tech and PR industries about how they overcame the challenges of raising money and building a business. No BS, no glossing over the grit, just woman-to-woman advice from influential #WomenInPower. Did you miss week 1? Catch up here.

Why do we need this conversation? Because:

Next up on our #WomenInPower video series is Laura O’Neill, the co-founder of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Find out how she and her business partners turned a single food truck into a $20 million business.

I didn’t go to college, and I’ve been able to build this. I think when you’re young, you doubt yourself in many ways, and so I would just tell 25-year old Laura that “You’re smart, and you’re doing a great job, and believe in yourself.” –Laura O’Neill, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Women in Power: Mallory Blair, Founder/CEO of Small Girls PR (1 Minute) from Ellevest on Vimeo.

Inspired? Create your free Ellevest investment plan now. It only take a few minutes and if you think you feel inspired now, wait until you complete it.

I want you to meet Ellevest because Stockholm Expat Blog is super excited to be working with them to start this conversation about women and money, and we may receive compensation if you become an Ellevest client.”

*Ellevest clients must have a US bank account.


The Good, True, Bad and Ugly from Sweden this Week

The Good

World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden. Get charged here.


The True

Sweden: Stockholm To Request Extension Of Border Controls For Security Reasons. Read the story here.

Police gather a group of migrants coming off an incoming train at the Swedish end of the bridge between Sweden and Denmark, in Hyllie district, Malmo November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stig-Ake Jonsson/TT News Agency













The Bad

Swedish Academy in crisis as head resigns. Read more here.

The Ugly

Tibet group thanks Sweden in ‘Chinese spy’ case. Read the full story.

TIBETAN COMMUNITY IN SWEDEN The Dalai Lama (L) met Tibetans living in Sweden last September



Easter in Sweden 2018

As an American, when I see kids in “costumes” dressed as Witches with brooms asking for candy, I think of Halloween. “In this imagery of the evil witch in a child’s body, there is a strong ambivalence and that’s what makes us laugh“.

Easter in Sweden

When I first saw the feathers birch branches indoors for Easter decoration I thought it was lovely. Turns out is has a down side.

Easter in Swede

And let’s not forget the food. The food!

Easter in Sweden

A traditional Easter lunch is likely to consist of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson’s Temptation (potato, onion and pickled anchovies baked in cream). The table is often laid like a traditional smorgasbord (or smörgåsbord as it’s written in Swedish). Spiced schnapps is also a feature of the Easter table. At dinner, people eat roast lamb with potato gratin and asparagus, or some other suitable side dish. Source: Sweden.se


The Good and the Bad – This Week in Stockholm

The Good

Sweden just appointed its first ‘Chief Digital Officer’. Source: Nordic Business Insider.


The Bad

Sweden’s Navy has been slimmed down from twelve submarines 30 years ago to only two currently in service. Today, at least six underwater craft are needed, according to a publication by the Swedish military newspaper Officertidningen. Source: Sputnik News.

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