Money-Saving Tips: Budgeting Your Stay Abroad


Updated on Oct 18 • 4 minute read

When you've made the decision to move abroad, most of your time is spent preparing for enrolling an in a new school or securing that new employment contract. Then, when you finally receive your confirmation that you’ll definitely be moving, excitement can quickly melt away into nerves about the impending move, "will I like it? Will I have enough money? Where am I going to live?"

Before you start rushing into plans, it’s always best to take some time to prepare in advance and get organized for your move abroad, which includes setting up a budget and completely understanding the cost of living in your new city. When moving abroad, it’s easy to spend more than usual in your first few months while you figure out the most cost-effective options. Whether you plan to be staying abroad for a couple of months or on a more permanent basis, learning a few great tips on how to save money in those initial months can go a long way in either situation.

Let’s explore some key points to ensure that you spend your time abroad enjoying your new life and having one exciting experience after the next, rather than worrying about your budget!

Start saving up before you move

Once you’ve decided on the location where you’ll be moving, it’s never too early to begin setting aside as much money as you can for your big move. This can include working a few extra shifts at your part-time job, or cut back on some personal expenses. Every little bit helps!

Set a realistic budget

Budget planning can be one of the most important things that you can do before you relocate abroad. It helps to make a list of all of your monthly expenses so that you can easily determine your expected cost of living.

Be sure to include:

  • Rent
  • Utilities, including internet
  • Phone service
  • Groceries
  • Dining out
  • Entertainment
  • Supplies for work or school
  • Transportation
  • Personal expenses
  • Airfares

Narrow your search for housing

Once you’ve worked out your estimated monthly budget, you’ll easily be able to see how much you can spend on your monthly rent. When you begin to look for accommodation, search in areas where the pricing matches your allocated budget. If accommodation in the city center is a bit too pricey, think about neighborhoods outside of the center with easy transportation options.

Additionally, it’s worth considering living with flatmates. This way, you can split up the rental fees, utilities and additional costs, so that perhaps you can live in housing with better amenities, a larger space or in a more desirable neighbourhood.

Research your shopping options

When you’re buying groceries, the cost can really add up if you’re not careful about where you’re shopping. Fortunately, many cities have discount grocery stores, as well as markets that offer fresh fruits and vegetables at much lower prices. Plus, if you’re living communally, taking turns cooking or splitting the cost of ingredients for meals with your roommates, you can save even more money.

Look for inexpensive ways to eat

The good news is that if you're a student, many local restaurants will offer discounts on meals, just as long as you show your student ID card. For young professionals, look for happy hours that may offer special meals and drinks at lower prices between particular hours, or ask your new colleagues for local tips!

Learn about free or low-cost entertainment and events

Once you get settled in, you’ll quickly find that almost all cities will host regular free events, such as fairs and festivals centered around music, art, local foods and a number of other fun things. If you’re studying at the university, student associations like AEGEE or ESN also keep full calendars of events, including parties, professional opportunities and even group trips to other cities.

Additionally, you can check with the local museums for discounted days. Many will offer free admission on a certain day of the month, along with free or discounted tickets for students or young people within a certain age bracket.

Discover your transportation options

Depending on your needs and as noted above, transportation is also something you’ll need to keep in mind for your budget planning. Of course, where you choose to live will have the greatest impact on your options for transportation. Many young people love to bike, so buying a secondhand bike is always a great idea. Be sure to check out your new city’s public transportation page so that you can consider purchasing a monthly pass, which will be far less inexpensive than buying a number of single-day tickets.

Find ways to make extra cash

Regardless if you’re moving abroad to further your education, start an internship or begin a career in a brand new startup, having a little extra cash to offset the cost of living is never a bad thing. Yet, it’s important to make sure that your side gig isn’t detracting from the real reason that you’ve decided to relocate. However, there are numerous ways that you can earn additional money abroad. Some of the most popular options include:


Whether you write, do a little graphic design or enjoy building websites, freelancing has become a great way to either make extra money or even build a full-time career. You can create a profile on sites like Upwork to get started right away.

Dog walking or babysitting

Many students or young professionals offer babysitting or dog-walking services. The best part is that it’s easy to work around your employment or university schedule, and you can easily check out job boards or join groups on Facebook to set up a few clients.


If you’re moving to locales like Berlin, Rotterdam or a host of other cities where your primary language is not the same, you can offer language tutoring. This works especially well if you’re fluent in English. You can help other young people learn a new language, while you put a little extra cash in your own pocket!

When you’re moving internationally, learning how to save money can not only ease your mind, but it can also free up your budget to take road trips to nearby capital cities, or even explore attractions in your own new home. Enjoy your time abroad, and make plenty of memories!

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