So you have decided that you definitely want to move out of the country and you are probably wondering about one big thing…how much will it cost to live there. This article is going to dive into some helpful information to assist you in calculating that cost. Before we dive into the nut and bolts I want to take a moment to give some constructive advice. I am in a number of expat groups and this question comes up just about every day. What amazes me the most is people just hop in with numbers as if they understand exactly what standard of living that person is requesting. Personally I always take a pause because I know people who a literal roof in the jungle with no amenities sounds like heaven. And on the flip side I know people who would wonder if I lost my mind by suggesting anything without WIFI and air conditioning. Hopefully you see what I am driving at. There is the cost of living and then there is the cost for your standard of living. We all come from different backgrounds and have different expectations so when calculating the cost of living in another country also ask about must haves like a/c.
Now that is over let me first let you in on a little secret website that from all my research has given the best and most accurate cost of living calculator I have seen on the internet. This website is called Expatistan! To learn how they break down their number I have inserted a link here that break down the whole process their statisticians go through. This website is great to get a quick number that breaks down cost of living in another country. They look at 6 categories food, housing, clothing, transportation, personal care, entertainment.
Additional costs that even I find is tougher to understand are medical costs and considerations like school tuition which here in the states we do not incur. Many countries have international schools that tend to charge tuition. Public schools may or may not be an option depending on where you are going. Then there is the question of how kids will adjust to a completely new culture but I will jump down that rabbit hole in a different post.
When it comes food you need to consider not only the cost of food but the availability depending in your dietary needs. I can remember visiting Sydney Australia and having the hardest time finding a ice cream sandwich. Now I know this is not a necessity but work with me here. I had a craving and it just seemed impossible that there were none. I googled and asked everyone I ran into on the street. Finally upon visiting a fish market there they were…a gourmet stand of ice cream sandwiches. $12 later. Yum. And don’t you go judging me. If you have ever travelled some where and had a craving of epic proportions then you know how obsessed you get with scratching that itch. All in all, if you have specific dietary needs take that into consideration when calculating your food costs.
Transportation is another cost that varies greatly. A couple of tips is too first decided are you wanting to live where you can walk everywhere or will you be more remote. For many expats living near everything is the only way and with ride share services or local taxis they have their transportation costs covered. If you need a vehicle then look into your options. The cost to buy a car may be decidedly more expensive in the new country. Consider taking your vehicle. If you own a vehicle already then it may be worth the effort to get it to your new location. While the ideal may sound daunting. People move internationally all the time and by seeking out resources you can identify the cost and then decide what works best for you. For me I know that getting a car in Belize is extremely costly. Dealerships are few and far between. Roads are rugged to say the least. And the pricing on cars is sometimes 30 – 40% higher for even the most basic of cars. We definitely want a vehicle so our plan is to use a transportation service to move one down there with us.
Once you have a rough estimate, I recommend bumping it up 8 – 15% more for the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” fund. It will help with any surprise costs. Not to mention the what can go wrong will go wrong when moving fund. I won’t jump into the weeds on this one. We will save that for another post.
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