This summer I spent my days hiking in Peru, volunteering at a sea turtle conservation, vising the beautiful Iquazu Falls, partying in Ecuador, sneaking into Paraguay, and exploring Panama City among other incredible experiences. If you are smart, you can embark on a similar adventure for less that staying at home during your summer break!
After noticing how inexpensive it was to live in India and South America, I started to wonder why students in America choose to go back and live at home for the summer, when in fact you could save money, live overseas, diversify your experience and make yourself more desirable for employment after graduation. Employers love global experiences.
Think of this as your own study abroad program but less expensive. Unfortunately, I did not notice this phenomenon after I graduated, but I think every college student should strongly consider spending their summer abroad as it can be less expensive if you follow a few key strategies and are open to new experiences.
After this year, I am going to have a semester left of graduate school but instead of paying for an apartment near campus and going to classes on campus, I am going to finish by program online and live in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India (surprise mom and dad). As crazy as this sounds, I will actually save money and you could too!
The first way you can live overseas for less than at home, is by not paying for your airfare. By taking advantage of lucrative credit card bonus offers and paying your tuition with them, you can earn thousands of dollars in free airfare! However, only do this if you can afford to pay your tuition off immediately. If you do not believe me, check out a detailed explanation here on how I will have $2,7000 in free airfare for my journey.
Second, choosing to stay at home in the summer, there are many sunk costs that you might not realize. In an effort to show how you could save money spending your summer overseas, I detailed out an expense break down based on my personal expenses and my average expenditures over the past few months. Yes, I keep track of my monthly expenses and you should too! When you live abroad, it is not necessary to have a cell phone plan, you no longer need to pay for gas, car insurance, a gym membership, rent, utility expenses, etc. Really, your expenses can be reduced significantly.
Summer 2017 (May 30th – August 29th)
Apartment ($600/ Month): $1,500
Utility Bills ($50/Month): $150
Netflix ($8/Month): $24
Cell Phone Bill ($60/Month): $180
Car Insurance ($55/Month): $165
Gym Membership ($34/Month): $102
Gas ($75/Month): $225
Miscellaneous ($400/Month): $1200*
* Miscellaneous for me includes my average spending on groceries, entertainment, nights out, clothes, gifts, coffee shop visits, and other daily spending habits.
**Also, if your parents pay for many of these expenses, convince them to give you the money they would save from you going abroad to spend on your trip!
Hostels (90 nights, $10/night): $900**
Meals ($5/meal): $900***
Transportation ($100/Month): $300
Miscellaneous ($200/Month): $600****
*See above on how to earn free airfare
**Personally this is a high estimate. In most regions you can find hostels less than $10 a night.
***Breakfast is included in most hostels and are I think are better than hotels! Thus you would only need to pay for two meals a day. In South America and Asia, most times you can find meals for much less than $5 a meal.
*** The reason a phone plan is not required is that hostels offer Wifi and you can call your loved ones back home for free over Wifi!
**** Your miscellaneous expenses will vary based on your spending habits but I suggest you budget an extra $200 to have fun. Even though you can get by on far less if you stayed in one location, you will want to have fun and go on amazing tours and day trips!
This still may seem too good to be true but I promise you its possible. This past summer I spend seventy days in eight different countries through central and south america and spent $2,400 for my expenses. While this is higher than the estimates above, Argentina and Costa Rica are expensive countries and I spent an average of $13/night on hostels and $15/day on food oppose to $8/night and $10/day in the other countries I visited.
Overall, if you are looking to save money and want a new experience over your summer break, you should strongly consider going overseas. However, in order to make it less expensive than staying home, do your research on the most affordable countries to live in and negotiate. For the most part, Eastern Europe, Asia, Central America and South America will be less expensive than staying home!