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5 Ways I Saved Money By Moving to a Different Country

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Living in a different country could help you spend less money on everyday living costs.


key points

  • Some countries have a lower cost of living, so everyday expenses are cheaper.
  • Healthcare, transportation, and housing may all be cheaper in a different country.

In my late 20s, I decided to move across the globe. More specifically, I moved to South Korea to live and work. For many reasons, it was a life-changing experience. But this move also helped me save money on daily expenses and allowed me to prioritize personal and financial goals. Find out how I saved money by moving to a different country.

The cost of living was cheaper

The cost of living was cheaper than what I was used to in the United States. I noticed a big difference in the price of utilities and dining out. For this reason, I was spending less money on daily living expenses, and my income went farther. During my two years living abroad, I put over $10,000 toward debt.

Housing was provided as a job perk

One of the biggest ways I saved money while living in a different country was by eliminating most of my housing costs.

When I arrived to start my job, I had an apartment waiting for me, and my employer covered the entire cost of my rent. I was only responsible for the cost of utilities. My Korean apartment was tiny. It was smaller than many studio apartments you’d find in the US, but I got used to living in a small space quickly.

By not paying $1,000 or more a month on a mortgage or rental payments, I was able to let the extra money pile up in my savings accounts.

Healthcare costs were low

South Korea has a national healthcare system. I had money deducted from my monthly paycheck to cover my healthcare premiums. At the time, I was paying less than $75 a month.

As for other healthcare costs, they were also low. I’ve picked up prescriptions at the pharmacy that cost less than $2. Doctor and hospital visits were similar. It wasn’t unusual to only pay $5 to $10 for a visit.

Thankfully, I didn’t need major surgery or undergo significant procedures during my time there, but I would have been less worried about the financial implications of my medical needs there.

Tipping was not part of the culture

Tipping is the norm in the US I worked in the food service industry through college, and tips helped me pay my bills. If you dine out a lot here, the costs can add up fast.

But tipping isn’t the norm in many other countries. In South Korea, it’s not part of the culture. As you might imagine, that makes dining out more affordable.

Public transportation was affordable

I also saved money by eliminating my usual vehicle expenses. Before leaving, I left my vehicle with my family. I had already paid off my car loan, so I was no longer making car payments or paying for car insurance coverage.

While in South Korea, I walked a lot and used public transit. Even in the countryside, public transportation is plentiful, and it’s affordable, too. At the time, I could take a three-hour high-speed train ride across the country for under $50.

Moving abroad helped me reach my goals

When I first moved to South Korea, I signed a one-year contract. I ended up staying for two years. The experience allowed me to prioritize my personal and financial goals.

Since I had fewer monthly bills and lived an affordable lifestyle, I could put more money toward travel as I continued to pay off debt.

Adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle doesn’t come without its challenges, but I’ll always be thankful for the opportunity to live in a different country.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Could moving to a different country help you save money? It’s possible. Even if moving across the globe isn’t right for you — taking a new job, switching from a paycheck job to a freelance role, or trying out a new side hustle could help you reach your money goals sooner.

Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities outside of your comfort zone. By doing things differently, you may be able to save more money and reduce your monthly expenses.

If you’re looking for tips that could help you improve your financial situation, check out these personal finance resources.

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