“How did you do it?”
I get asked this a lot.
“How can you live in Bali? Are you working?”
These questions tend to baffle me. Sure, the people asking me haven’t lived in Asia, but it’s no big, hidden secret that I’m keeping to myself. It’s quite simple. It’s cheaper for me to travel than it is to live in Australia.
And sure, I’m fortunate enough to have chosen a career where I can work and travel, but anyone can embrace these insights and still spend less travelling and living in another country.
Let’s start by identifying a common misconception about travel – that it’s expensive. It isn’t.
Travel doesn’t have to cost you a lot
Life at home, we fall into the trap of thinking we ‘need’ more than we do. The same goes for when we travel. We want need that fancy hotel, $15 cocktails or overpriced day trip, when we can explore ourselves. We certainly don’t need it.
A lot of us are on time constraints so we feel the need to jam-pack our itinerary full of activities. If we ask ourselves whether we really want to do each thing, would we say yes or do we just think we ‘should’?
I’ve recently been travelling in Sri Lanka.
We booked a $30/night guesthouse that included breakfast. It was a two-minute walk from the beach. The location was just as good as the five-star hotel, right next door.
Curious, we asked how much it was to stay there per night. Over $100. We were a bit sneaky, though.
The WiFi at our guesthouse kept dropping out, so we simply had lunch at the nice hotel’s restaurant each day… and used theirs. It was like we were staying there. We had the view, the food and their facilities – for less than a third of the price.
It just takes a dash of creativity and taking the time to have conversations with locals. You don’t need to throw cash around to enjoy yourself.
Ok, so why is it cheaper for me to live overseas? I’ve got a bunch of reasons, but I’m going to share a few of the main ones with you.
I have no bills coming out of my account
This is probably the most important reason to lead with. There are many ways to look at having ‘more’ money. One is as simple as spending less. And that’s where I started. I stopped all of the bills coming out of my account and I paid for everything I needed in one hit.
Here’s what used to come out of my account:
- House rent
- Health insurance
- Mobile phone
- Car insurance.
Before I left, I left my rented house, put my health and insurance on hold, and downgraded my mobile phone plan. I made a daily budget for the trip and saved that amount.
I walk everywhere
Instead of using a car to get around, I walk. Everywhere. On the odd occasion, I hire a scooter for $5 a day, but apart from that, I use my own two feet.
Compare this to life at home. Putting aside the big dollars to buy a car, but we forget about the ongoing costs. On average, I’ll spend $50 a week on petrol, $25 on car insurance, $20 on registration, plus the yearly service and maintenance costs. All this adds up without even realising. And that’s the problem.
I socialise differently
I spend a lot of money on socialising. I’m a strong believer in investing in experiences, not things – so I don’t mind a portion of my hard-earned money going to having fun.
At home, I’m the first to get sucked into the vortex of what’s new and cool. Bar openings, quirky restaurants, cultural events… there’s always something to do. And while I love this about home, I’m constantly doing something that costs money.
In Bali, I’ll meet up with a friend on the beach to watch the sunset. We’ll grab a $2 Bintang or fresh coconut, and enjoy a long conversation. It seems life is enjoyed more outdoors.
Nothing is locked in. I live day-to-day.
Again, let’s go back to the bill situation. At home, we get locked into contracts.
Rent. Mobile phone. Health insurance. Car insurance. House insurance. Home loan. Car loan. Gym membership. Electronics…. the list goes on.
We’re living beyond our means. In Bali, however, we live every day without a real plan. We pay for everything in cash, and we haven’t signed our life away, for anything.
Our daily budget is simple:
- $10/night for accommodation (which includes a double room, pool and access to free water)
- $6-7 per meal including a drink (at a western restaurant)
- 70c for a bottle of lemon water.
We allocate $40/day to live, but most of the time we only spend $30-35. On an average week, we’ll spend between $250-280/week. I did some figures before I left Adelaide and was spending about $500/week to maintain my lifestyle.
So, I actually spend almost half the money and I get to live in another country. Cool, huh? And the best part is I’m living life a queen. I’m getting everything I need (and want) here, without having to worry about money.
I live freely, creatively and wholesomely.
Can you say you do too, at home?