Live and travel abroad - how can you afford it?
Once people understand our story, they always wonder and ask "how can you afford to travel and live in France while earning a slightly sluggish Canadian dollar compared to the Euro?" Well let me start by saying we are not wealthy, we both work full-time, both in IT and we work from home so that allows us the flexibility of working from anywhere. We earn a reasonable living but by no means are we rich. This post will NOT show you how to find cheap travel sites etc... but I hope that it helps you reflect on your day-to-day spending and perhaps bad habits!.
1. The first thing and most important is that we do not have new cars.
We felt a long time ago as many families do - that we needed two cars when we were travelling into office jobs. The key is that we bought used and despite wanting a back up camera and fancy new features we held off and still actually have our 10 and 7 year old cars. That allowed us to save so much money. Think of your car payments, they're high right? Most people either never pay off their car because they swap it out before the payment structure matures or as soon as they are about to be payment free, they get into a new car and its associated whopper of a monthly payment. Having, not just one but two old cars has allowed us to save a bit less than $1000 a month for many years.
2. The most controversial of reasons! We have one and only one child.
This is a personal decision and one that I still struggle with to explain without offending but I do think that having a smaller family allows us the freedom and extra income to do more together. Childcare in Canada is expensive, so expensive that some people choose to stay home to care for their second child as opposed to a caregiver situation. We chose to only have one child and I believe that saved us a great deal in childcare costs for sure. Now that we are travelling having one child to pay for flights, trains etc helps keep our costs down and I wonder if we'd still be able to do some of what we do with more than one beautiful baby!.
3. I don't believe that keeping up with the Jones' is realistic.
It's tempting to see the neighbors with their perfectly manicured lawns, beautiful deck and pergola, pool and kids toys loitered all over the yard. We lived in a big house in Canada but it was by no means new. Our 1950's home required a great deal of work and some serious fixes that still yet have to be completed. Our culture places so much importance on material things and the newest of everything. I have an old Iphone, drove an older car and lived in a beautifully restored old house that we called home and that was perfectly fine by me.
4. I think $4 for a Starbucks is absurd.
I rarely buy myself a take away coffee. Working from home is the ideal situation for both splurging on a morning coffee as well as buying lunch because I am home and most of the time too lazy to go out. I make my own coffee and lunch at home. If you can cut back on those two things you can easily afford a trip. Let's do the math. An average Starbucks is $4, say you do that three time a week that adds up to $624 a year, that's not even counting the cookie or lunch take-out you get.
5. If you know me then you know I like to work.
I like work, I enjoy challenging myself and I have always had more than one job, some call me unfocused and scattered and they can say what they want but those extra hours have equaled to money in the bank. I will always work at more than one thing at a time and so that allows me to have greater disposable income. Frankly I like money and i'm not afraid to go after it.
6. Learn to live on less.
From the moment I got my first credit card I just could not handle my monthly statement showing interest fees and yes credit cards are a reality of daily life but with a focus on changing our life I worked very hard to reduce that useless debt and learned to live on less. If I couldn't afford I just didn't buy it, that made a big difference and still does now.
I work in IT but it isn't exactly in the most lucrative of roles it is not what I prefer to be doing but I choose to do this job and make a smaller income to have the flexibility in my time. With this new role I can work from home and have a very low stress level compared to my past roles which makes it possible to be here in France and anywhere else I choose - so pretty good decision I think! Set your pride aside for a focused future.
8. Make your dollar go farther.
We tend to travel a great deal now that we are in France because we are in proximity to so many more countries where our dollar really can go farther. We are thrifty in our travel decisions, always getting breakfast at a hotel is one way but recently we finally tried Airbnb and got a great apartment in the heart of Turin, Italy at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
I wish I had more tips but that's the basics of our life and all I can offer advice on. At the end of the day we all have to make sacrifices for what we want. Moving abroad is a process and one that takes preparation and money in the bank in case of emergency. If you feel like you want something and you are willing to sacrifice the luxuries for it then the sky's the limit or rather the globe is.