Leverage Your Money by Living Abroad

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on June 28, 2016 in Money Saving Strategies, Personal Finances

Tom Kerr writing about financial freedom

Earning a living is challenging and saving for the future is almost an unreachable goal in America. But you have some realistic solutions and options. If you have American currency to spend, for instance, other parts of the world represent exciting and practical alternatives, especially now that the dollar is experiencing uncommon strength.

Sell High, Buy Low

One of the most fundamental strategies is to earn dollars online, through activities such as telecommuting or e-commerce, and to spend that income where you get more bang for the buck.

Of course, if you are a pensioner or recipient of Social Security you can use those monthly checks as your income stream. You’ll be able to leverage the value of the dollar at a time when it has appreciated against currencies including the British pound, euro, and Canadian dollar. Among the places where the dollar translates into the most buying power right now are Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

Learn for Less

There are many countries where you can hire a private, well-credentialed academic tutor for $10-$15 an hour or less, to learn subjects such as foreign languages or computer skills. Or hire expert professionals to train you in fun, useful, and marketable trades like the culinary arts, farming, carpentry, beer and wine making, or yoga instruction. At a time when tuition costs in the U.S. are skyrocketing, you can also find bargains on formal education.

Central European University, for example, is an accredited graduate-level university in Budapest, Hungary that offers a variety of post-graduate and doctoral degree programs. Tuition averages around $15,000 a year or less, and the university advises foreign students to budget about $600 a month to cover all their living expenses.

You can also supplement your income in a foreign country, or barter for goods and services, by teaching English – which is an excellent way to meet people and make new friends.

Even if you aren’t going to Hungary to attend school, you can definitely live there on the cheap, compared to life in the U.S.—and the same is true for some other Eastern European countries.

Pay Less, Live Better

If you prefer warmer climes, head south to Colombia, where a typical one-bedroom apartment costs around $250 a month. Do you want a viable health plan that involves learning to tango as your cardio routine? In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the medical care is so good and affordable that it has fueled a boom in medical tourism. But you can purchase an excellent small apartment there for less than $100,000.

For about $500 a month you can lease a furnished three-bedroom home at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, a popular international eco-destination…or live in a private villa in the small colonial town of Antigua. There locally-sourced groceries from the farmer’s market cost a fraction of what lower-quality ingredients cost in American supermarkets.

Enjoy the Perks

A comfortable adventure in another country can provide wide-ranging perks – including priceless cultural amenities—and it’s possible to enjoy all of that while saving a significant amount of money. But when the funds to facilitate your alternative lifestyle come from the U.S., spending them in a foreign country contributes to that local economy without threatening the jobs there. You won’t be competing with them, but can contribute real value. That, economically speaking, is the best of both worlds.

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