Why It’s Financially Possible to Move Abroad
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As many readers know, I just moved back to the United States after about 2.5 years of living in the Caribbean. Moving to a tropical island seems like just a dream for so many people, and if I had a nickel for every time someone told me how lucky I was, well, I wouldn’t have so many student loans. 😉
The thing is, anyone can do what my husband and I did. Moving wasn’t too difficult to figure out, and it didn’t require a particular skill level. Sure, it took a little adjustment and a big flying leap of faith, but there were lots of people just like us who were in the same boat.
Here’s why it’s financially possible to move abroad:
Foreign Income Exclusion
When you work abroad for a year and you don’t leave your new country for extended periods of time, you can claim residency in your new country and be excluded from paying US tax on your foreign income. It’s a bit complicated, and I had to ask for help with my taxes to fully understand it. However, what happened is that I just paid 12.5% tax to the country of Grenada while I worked as a university instructor, but I didn’t have to pay income tax to the US because of the foreign income exclusion (there’s a specific form that you fill out for it.) I’m not an expert on this, so I would recommend doing your research to find companies in countries that have low income taxes and who pay for work visas for expats.
Lack of Materialism Makes it Financially Possible to Move Abroad
It was expensive to live in Grenada. I’ve written about that many times before. The prices were all marked up to tourist prices, and the groceries were super pricey. That being said, my husband and I saved so much money simply by not living in a culture of excess.
We had to really want to order something, because if we bought new clothes or a book and had it shipped to Grenada, we had to pay customs fees on it. So, we went an entire year with only buying 1-2 pieces of clothing each. There was a mall, but it didn’t have the stores we were used to. We didn’t have cable, and for a year out of the two, we didn’t have a car. We survived it all, and everything went just fine.
Learn to Tell Yourself ‘No’
I’ve already been back in the U.S. for two weeks and have a renewed appreciation for tight budgets and managing spending. It was so easy for me to write about trimming budgets while I lived in Grenada because I had no extras to buy. Now, I find myself telling myself “no” numerous times a day. It’s tough, but if you want to live abroad, there are so many great places in the world that don’t have such a focus on materialism.
Other ways to save money as an expat if you really want to do it is to limit the amount of times you fly back to the U.S. and try to buy local as much as possible. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on plane tickets to go home during the holidays, and we could have saved a lot by not doing that! All in all, it was a great experience, and I’m so glad I did it. I’m happy to be back Stateside, but that little island will always have a piece of my heart.
Have you ever wanted to live abroad? What’s holding you back?
Photo Credit: Sedoglia