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Living Abroad – an Extreme Approach to Saving!

Guest post from Genevieve

Although we had six months to prepare, the shift to one income after having our first baby was a total shock to the system.

We were in a situation not unlike many other families out there. We had a new business which was only making a little bit of money, but had so much potential that we didn’t want to “shelf it” while we had a family. And as a new mom, I didn’t want to go back to work to make ends meet. So we came up with a rather novel solution.

We packed up the family and moved to Cambodia!

We were fortunate that our business didn’t require us to have a physical presence anywhere. Our business was small, but the income was mostly reliable. We realized would make the same money no matter where we lived, so while we were only making ends meet in an expensive Western consumer society, we live a wonderful lifestyle with our kids abroad.

Our business is 100% online — we sell name change kits to new brides — but even if you don’t have an online business, moving overseas might still be possible for your family!

Developing countries have large expat communities of teachers, hairdressers, architects, graphic designers, bloggers, writers and so many other professions. These people can make decent money abroad. In some cases you only need to work 20 hours a week as you’re making the same hourly wage as if you would in the states. As an added bonus, it’s wonderful way to watch your children grow up in a multi-cultural society.

Interested? Here are some suggestions on how to gear up for a move:

Freelancer? Reach out to all your business contacts and see if any can commit to a monthly work load. Consider charging less for the added flexibility, and you’re more likely to get an ongoing contract.

Online business? All you need is a decent internet connection. Even rural South America has decent internet these days. Get a US toll free number that diverts to Skype so you can provide customer service anywhere

Teacher or hairdresser? Most capital cities have a thriving expat community and you can make decent money serving expat clients.

No special skills? Become a freelancer or create your own blog with your adventures abroad. Sites like and Odesk allow you to find work in data entry  writing, customer service, and more. Virtually all the jobs posted on these sites have no geographic requirements.

Benefits of Living Abroad

Cheaper cost of living. Rent, food, and travel, is all considerably cheaper in developing countries.

Affordable, quality childcare. If you’re a working mom, you can find an abundance of wonderful caring nannies in many countries. With wages from around $60 per month part-time, it’s an affordable investment

More time with family. Especially if you work from home with a nanny. Be with your kids when you want, and work when it suits you.

Consume less. Embrace a simpler lifestyle. Consumerism is hard to come by anywhere outside of North America and Europe.

Healthier lifestyle. So many of the fruits and veggies sold in the US are months old before they hit the supermarket. Developing countries are flushed with affordable and fresh fruit and vegetables, often organically grown.

De-stress. With finances less of a worry and more time with your kids, your mental state of mind is sure to improve.

Cheaper healthcare. Cost and quality of healthcare vary wildly depending where you live, but nowhere is more expensive than the US. If you have an existing health condition, check the quality and prices of hospitals where you plan to move.

Life experience. This is something that money can’t buy. Our 2-year-old is a budding tri-linguist. We love learning about other cultures!

Affordable travel. If you need a break from your break, it can be very affordable to travel to neighboring countries and get a real glimpse of how others live.

Yes, there are some drawbacks of living so far from home — Grandparents missing out is the biggest — but we will be living back home soon enough and all this will be a wonderful memory.

If we were back on the money treadmill in the states we wouldn’t have much time for socializing with friends and family in any case, and we would be stressed out all the time.

We are three years into our five-year adventure and haven’t looked back!

Genevieve Dennis is a reformed corporate stress head. She lives with her husband, Miss 2, and Miss Newborn in rural Cambodia. She and her husband run Easy Name Change in the mornings, then swim, play and socialize in the afternoons.

photo source

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  • Bethany M says:

    Third world living is not always cheaper. You have to remember the law of supply and demand. If the availablility is low than the price goes up. Like in Sierra Leone, an egg costs 60 cents a piece that’s 5x the US price.

    • Genevieve says:

      Yes, some items that are difficult to source can be more expensive. Fully imported items are occasionally more expensive here. However since being here I have found nothing to be substantially more expensive, and as retail margins are much lower they can often be cheaper. And where luxury items are more expensive, there’s usually a cheaper substitute that does the job. Unlike Africa, almost anything you want can be sourced from nearby countries. I suppose we’re lucky here!

      • Megan says:

        You can get pretty much anything you’d want/need in any major African city as well. Like you said – local substitutions (or living locally generally) is key!

  • Nicole says:

    Gotta love the out-of-the-box thinking! Great job for doing what works for your family. I’d miss my family so much, but if it was a necessity, hey, it’s nice to know that there are options. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I applaud you for taking this leap of faith. While I don’t think it is something that will work for me nor something I would ever want to do I commend you on taking this journey.

    Personally, I think a more realistic approach would be to apply some of the principles of living in a developing country to living here in the States. Simple, small, sparsely decorated houses, minimal technology, walking or riding a bike more, eating simple meals, and socializing at home rather then outside are all ways to save a lot of money at home.

  • Rachael says:

    I lived overseas for 3 years after college and before grad school. This is a huge decision that you better have really good reasons to do. Its not always cheaper once you add in air-fare and overseas insurance (don’t dare go without some insurance… if you die, who’s gonna pay to get your body home to bury? if you get dengue fever, how are you going to pay for treatment?). Culture adjustment is brutal, and adjusting back to the states (or home country) can be just as rough. Of course, if you plan on living in an expat community and doing very little exposure to the surrounding culture, its going to just as expensive as living state-side (speaking as an American here…). And I lived in rural China, visited Thailand regularly, and saw the big cities in China (Shanghai, Beijing). But then, my experience is rather limited to far east Asia. Might be different else where.

  • Good for you! How exciting it would be to live abroad. What made you chose that particular country?

  • Marie says:

    What works for some may not work for others. But I love the diverse ideas. Personally, I’ve lived in Romania and the cost of living was very cheap for me but sadly not for the people there. However, with the European union the last few years wanting to move to the Euro living in Romania, even for me the cost skyrocketed!!
    the point about being able to travel to other countries for a break is true and such a great trade off. I know my husband saw a lot of Asia when he grew up in the Phillipines as missionaries.
    Now my close Romanian friends live in Belgium and when we visited two years ago the cost of things blew my mind!! Milk was $6 as was cereal and a coloring book!!!! They are able to find work but not able to save much to return to living in Romanian. But now at least they can have a place to live and food on the table unlike in Romania. They both worked and couldn’t even afford rent or food!!!! It’s so sad the situation because they long to be back in Romania.

    • Rainey Daye says:

      When did you live in Romania? I was an MK there from 1992-1996 and then spent the summers of 1999, 2001, and 2002 there as well…before moving there by myself in 2005. Ostensibly I was going to be there several years, but ended up getting engaged…so my time there ended up being just one year, but I loved it. Sure, the months there were problems getting my support from the States were tight, and I didn’t have much support to begin with, but I made it work. It was an adventure, though…for sure!! My roommate and I had no washer or dryer (had to wash at a friend’s apartment or my land lady’s apartment and then haul it back to dry on drying racks and the radiators). We had no fridge, but it was winter so we bought our perishables in small batches and kept them in our pantry, which had an open window to the outside. Our “stove” was just a three burner gas hotplate (no oven). After three months there we finally got internet in our apartment, but the wifi didn’t work…so we had cords criss-crossing the living room to our laptops. But it was a fun adventure…and lots of memories made!! I am sure things have changed in the past 6.5 years since I left, but then again, they changed rather a lot every time I was gone and went back. I do agree that things have gotten a lot more expensive over the years though and the EU has definitely made things more expensive there.

  • Mary says:

    I lived in southern Europe for 7 years during my 20’s (3 of my children were born in Spain) and I would love to be able to support ourselves in a way that’s not dependent on our geographic location. Thanks for sharing resources for doing that.

  • Abby says:

    About six months ago my husband’s long term substitute teaching position ended and we found ourselves looking at my dead end banking job as our sole (inadequate) income. We made the somewhat drastic decision to move from Oregon to Mississippi. My husband got a full-time teaching job here and I’m staying home with the kids for now.

    Of course international, and even cross-country, moves aren’t for everyone, but sometimes drastic life changes are a great opportunity to reevaluate your situation and be more active in seeking God’s plan.

    In our case, we know it’s nearly unheard of for school districts to hire full-time teachers halfway through the year, and yet that’s how my husband got this job. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s always amazing to hand God the wheel and watch Him miraculously clear the way for you.

  • Apple says:

    Speaking from experience, I think why people may find living in a foreign country/continent simpler is because you don’t feel you have to keep up with the Jones’ (ie family, friends, neighbours) 🙂

  • Denise says:

    YES!!! And it gives you opportunities to volunteer in that country too! I have A LOT of friends who live and work in foreign countries and it is on my list of things to hopefully do someday (we need to pay off some medical and student loan debt first) if I can convince my mono-lingual husband! I’m bilingual in Spanish and already work as a Child Sponsorship Coordinator for a small group of homes for Children in Bolivia and my heart is there while my body is in Ohio!

    • Lisa says:

      I suppose it really depend where abroad you live. I’ve living abroad twice now- in southern France for a year about 10 years ago, and currently in Germany, where we’ve been for the last 3 years (and where our daughter was born). Although both times abroad have been terrific (although not always easy- it certainly isn’t a fairy tale!), and I would highly suggest doing it if you get a chance, I would not say living abroad saved us money in any way. In fact, I think the reverse is true- it cost us money! (But was worth it for the experience) Like i said, it really depends on where you go and your situation while there.

  • Charity says:

    I know some people were talking about the cost of living being pricey. But also understand that say peanut butter may be very expensive but that’s because they don’t eat it. If you try to live like an american it’s going to be hard. If you eat what they eat and do what they do it’s going to cost less. Keeping in mind that Americans are a well fed group of people. many other countries don’t eat as much period much less as much rich meat. I mean I’m from Texas so I’m not judging. just saying.

    • Kimber says:

      That’s a good point. We lived in Argentina for two months. We packed a jar of peanut butter with us because we were told how expensive it would be there. 🙂 But for the most part, we just looked around at what the local people were eating and adapted our diet.

    • Genevieve says:

      So true! The first few months was difficult to understand how to shop and cook like a local. Especially buying meat from the market! It makes you realize how little stuff you really need, and on the flip side, how luxurious something simple like eating peanut butter can be!

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve been living in Tunisia for almost a year now. For sure there is an adjustment to living here as far as the food goes. I was really discouraged when I first came as all the “luxuries” from home are so expensive here. It took me a while but I started making my own ketchup, mayo and peanut butter for a LOT less than they have it at the store. Peanuts here are not too expensive but peanut butter is. Same with mayo, the oil and eggs are SO cheap here but mayo at the store is really expensive and not very good. Ketchup? Same as the mayo. Beef is expensive (about the same as in America which is REALLY expensive on a Tunisian income) so when I want something like sloppy joes I make them with lentils and make the sauce with homemade ketchup. Tacos? I use beans instead of beef and make the taco seasoning from scratch. Also, I make the tortilla from scratch. When we do splurge for something like hamburgers (my husband has fell in love with them) I rely heavily on breadcrumbs, also homemade, as filler so 1/2 pound of meat is enough to make four big hamburgers. Chocolate chips are not cheap, or readily available, here so when I want to make cookies I crush a chocolate bar into tons of tiny pieces (it’s easier if you freeze it first). Of course, we eat a lot of Tunisian food too but if you are creative you don’t have to totally give up on having some good ol’ American comforts.

  • L Crawford says:

    Name change kits? What?

    • Crystal says:

      These are to quickly and easily help you change your name on all documents and such that you need to change it on when you get married, etc.

    • august says:

      That’s what I thought. I changed my name at the social security office and it took 30 minutes. I can’t imagine actually paying someone to handle all of that. To each their own.

      • Mollie says:

        August, you’re fortunate that’s all you needed! 🙂 Some of us weren’t born in the states (I was a Navy baby) and need much more paperwork for name changes after marriage. It took me three different trips to the Los Angeles INS office to change my name – and I’m a citizen!

        • Mei-Lyn says:

          That’s interesting that you had so much trouble. I was born overseas as well, and it was no trouble to change it. Just went to the office, waited for forever, and turned in my papers at the counter. No muss, no fuss.

          • Mollie says:

            I didn’t have a birth certificate from the P.I. in-hand, so that was issue #1. The other two times, the office closed before we could set foot inside.

      • Heather says:

        Depends on your situation. I would have bought this for sure. I got married at 28 – thus I had many things in my maiden name. There was all my career stuff, banking, utility bills, credit card, lease, car loan, and more. It took forever to change everything over. Halfway through I began to regret even starting, and partly wished I had kept my maiden name!

        • Megan says:

          Yup, this is one of the reasons (among others) that I kept my name when I got married. I didn’t see any reason to change it and it’s saved me a lot of hassle.

    • Aimee says:

      I purchased a name change kit over ten years ago when we were married. It had all of the paperwork for you to quickly mail for SS and all your other accounts (banking, utilities, etc.). It also provided a list of items to consider to make sure you appropriately handled your new legal name. It was not very pricey as I recall and as a professional, the time savings more than made up for the minimal cost.

  • Jessica says:

    I know this is certainly not for everyone but my family is considering this very thing. We have many other reasons for doing it besides saving money (exposing our children to a different culture, allowing our children to learn a new language that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, teaching them different values than some of the consumer values that dominate the US culture, etc). I know many people that do this and do it well, including in Cambodia. But it shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Culture shock is very real and you should only do it everyone in the family fully committed to it.

    I applaud Genevieve for what she and her family have done. It is not for the faint of heart!!!

  • MB says:

    We found this to all be very true when we lived abroad in China with a family. We were able to save 70% of our salary by eating like the locals and living like the locals. It has been a huge blessing, now that we are back in the States—we had a large down payment saved up and have really cut back on our “necessities” after living without for 3 years!

  • Anon. says:

    Our family is moving south of Russia this summer and the cost of living is comparable to here, and food and gas is even more expensive. (although I will try to buy food at the outdoor market to save money – not our meat, of course! 🙂 ) Rent is a little cheaper, but the houses there tend to be much more basic and definitely not as nice. However, the people there tend to be much less materialistic. They are happy just to have a good meal.

  • Katey says:

    This is such a timely post for our family. Thank you! My husband and I have been considering this very idea for the opportunity to do ministry in another country and to have a cross-cultural experience for our children. My husband is looking inot teaching English for a couple of years in an Asian country. I hadn’t considered that it might also be an opportunity for me to work on my online business. An affordable in-house nanny might be very helpful in this way.

  • Jane @ Live Rich and Free says:

    Yes! This is exactly our plan! We are saving up to move to Thailand in two years when we want to start our family. We own our own business that is run online, and I think the quality of life increase for us will be huge! We don’t plan to stay forever, but for 3 or 4 years while we have our kids.

    I’m so glad that you’re talking about this option. I’m so excited just planning and saving for it. Congrats on your decision!

    • Genevieve says:

      Good on you! We had baby number 2 in Thailand. Bangkok is hard work with a toddler. If I was to move to Thailand I think the beach lifestyle would suit me well. It’s great being in a tropical climate with little kids. It just feels so wholesome to spend most of the day playing outside. It never ceases to amaze me just how adaptable and versatile kids are. Good luck in Thailand and I hope you and your family have the time of your lives!

  • It can be cheap yes but if you have a medical problems or a medical emergency and you don’t live in China, India, or Russia, it could be very costly.

  • Free Stuff says:

    This is the coolest, inspiring and most challengin blog post. Love the title “Extreme” because it certainly is.
    A family that has 1 or 2 bloggers in the family could definitely make the switch and still live comfortably. Definitely a good option if you wanted to do medium term missions for 2-3 years. Get to do ministry, experience a new culture and continue building the business.
    Kudos to those willing to make the change.

  • Dana says:

    I have lived overseas for 2 years now and have seen many people come and go. This is a very serious decision and could end up costing a whole lot of money if it turns outs to be something you hate. This has been the hardest 2 years of my life and we live in a nice country. It is also extremely expensive because of the Euro being 1.30 to every dollar. Yes, it’s an adventure, but it can also turn into a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re getting into. It’s an exciting thought, but I would urge anyone considering moving overseas to thoroughly count the cost before doing it.Dana Powell

  • RachaelP says:

    That’s a very interesting article. I would not really think about moving overseas just to save money but it is possible. I lived in Nepal for 2 years and lived comfortably and saved most of my paycheck. The cost of living was very low there. I didn’t do a lot of the things the other expats did like eating at lots of the expat restaurants, getting my hair/nails done at a salon that catered to expats, etc. I ate half and half local and foreign food.

    There’s so much about Nepal that I miss but there’s some big things I don’t miss. I miss the friendly people. I don’t miss extreme stress of a very unstable political climate. I miss the power and water outages (sometimes), I miss the simplicity. I don’t miss how much the locals knew about me without even knowing me, yet at the same time I do.

    It depends on where in the world you go. Everyone will have a different experience. I wish one day to show my hubby and children where a big part of my heart still is.

  • Lisa C. says:

    What an absolutely interesting article! Thank you for sharing! I’ve been fascinated with the show “Living Abroad” but most of those people seem to be people who have really good paying jobs and their employer pays for the lodging, moving expense and in some cases the children’s schooling. I really liked the point of “consume less.” I’m currently in the process of “going through and getting rid of” – a daunting task, I assure you – in preparation for a nearly 100% possible out state move. I’m curious, when you decided to go on this adventure did you agree on a 5 year stay or is there a particular reason you are there for 5 years? Thanks again for sharing!

  • Heather says:

    I would love to do this!

  • Marianne says:

    Bear in mind also that Internet and other communications can be flaky in many third world countries.

    • Megan says:

      This is changing rapidly. For example, the mobile phone networks in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa are fantastic and you can get great service (phone and internet) in even the most rural areas.

      • Marianne says:

        Perhaps so, but it’s something that should be well-researched before committing. And not just from what the telecoms and other providers claim, but from people on the ground. Eg., if a line or tower goes down, how long will it take to repair? What about the electric? Is it reliable? Is it dirty? Having mobile phone and Internet won’t mean much if there is no electricity in town to charge your laptops and phones or if a surge fries them.

  • There are lots of great advantages to living overseas. One of my favorite lessons learned is that home is where my family is. Other lessons include how to make do with what you have, learning new ways of doing things, increasing my patience… hmmm (hopefully), and how to make pizza in a wok and granola in a rice cooker.

    However, I will add I have never seen consumerism more alive and well than in China. Those who have money buy tons of things, those who don’t have money want to get money. And when going out to eat you are always supposed to order way more than you could ever eat, and often the extra gets thrown out.

  • April says:

    Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Cambodian healthcare system. Their infant mortality rate is extremely high, at 54 deaths per 100 live births, and the World Health Organization ranks them 174 out of 190 in quality of healthcare available (the US is ranked 38th). Their healthcare is technically free, but most reports say that bribery or is common and citizens often have to go out of country to obtain prescription medications or buy them on the black market.

    • April says:

      I thought that didn’t sound right, so I looked it up. It is 54 out of 1000, not 100.

    • Roxanne says:

      Thank you for mentioning this.

      I have a few missionary friends, and their stories of the cost of living in various countries contradict this author’s article.

      But far more importantly, I think the healthcare is the #1 issue to be considered. My best friend lost a baby in childbirth in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has far better heath care than many other foreign countries. This baby would absolutely be alive today if he had been born in any US hospital. All the missionaries I know come back to the states for all their health issues.

      Even if was possible to work 4 hours and live like a king, the lack of reliable healthcare would dissuade me from making a move.

      • April says:

        Yes, I’m sensitive to that as well, since I almost lost my first child during childbirth in the US. Luckily he and I were fine, but had I been in a country where I couldn’t have an emergency c-section and the best of care afterwards he might not be a healthy 7-year-old today.

        And I just realized there’s a typo in my statistic; it’s 54 deaths per 1000 live births, not 100. No country has a mortality rate that high, luckily.

    • Genevieve says:

      I had my babies abroad – Thailand to be specific. They have world class hospitals. The Cambodian healthcare system here is appalling, and certainly not for everyone! We’re lucky to all be very healthy or I would not have considered living here. Hospitals don’t even serve food to patients – families must bring food in. The country is rife with corruption. It is certainly not without its problems! It’s like living in the wild west and the pace of change is just absolutely mind boggling.

  • Elizabeth says:

    During college I spent a semester in Egypt. Granted, I can’t really claim expat status based on 16 weeks overseas, but our curriculum put a lot of emphasis on understanding the implications of Westerners who come to live or work in the Middle East. One of my biggest takeaways was that as an American I am very privileged to hold a passport that lets me go (almost) anywhere in the world, that I have access to insurance, airfare, etc., that allowed me to travel and have a great trip, while the Egyptians who were so graciously hosting me did not benefit from those privileges. It made me very grateful to the Egyptians I met, and made me want to be very careful and gracious in my future travels. Living in someone else’s land means that you have certain responsibilities, not the least of which is to be a gracious guest.

    I still love to travel and I dream of living overseas one day, but I want to make sure that I give back to my community, whether my community is in the USA or some other country. Personally, for me, that means I don’t think I would ever make the decision to live overseas based only on saving money. If I’m going to seek welcome in a foreign land, then I want to make sure I’m prepared to be gracious, to not lord it over others by living an “expat” lavish lifestyle (so many expats do live more lavishly than those around them, because they can afford to do so – but it does seem relatively ungracious to me). I want to make sure my focus is always on helping others. One of the reasons I really love reading Money Saving Mom is that Crystal puts an emphasis on saving money SO THAT she can help others.

    Living overseas can provide a fantastic opportunity to serve others, but many expats are only in it so that they can make more money, save more money, or afford a nicer lifestyle than they could at home. Personally, I see that as a rude way to behave in the face of struggling citizens in a country that is hosting you. With that said, I too have considered that the lower cost of living in another country might make it more feasible for me to live overseas than to live in my current American city. However, as a Christian, as someone who tries to love my neighbor, and as someone who has studied the impact of expats in other countries, for me saving money would have to rank fairly low on the list of reasons why I would or would not move overseas.

  • Jeri says:

    Great article. My husband worked in Saudi Arabia at two different times, before we were married, and enjoyed the expat life and the travel opportunities it offered. As we get closer to retirement age, it’s starting to look very good to me as well. We’re in a different position than many readers as we’re older and have no children. Panama and Ecuador, in particular, seem to be good places for American retirees.

  • Wow! What an exciting adventure! My husband’s job is going to be taking us to South America in a few years, and I’m hoping to bring my Etsy business with me! Can I ask you – how have you worked with the local mailing system in Cambodia (or do you have to?) My biggest concern is the lack of reliable mail system from where we will be living to the US. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Megan says:

      DHL ships virtually everywhere in the world, though it can be expensive. Sounds like a fun idea!

    • Genevieve says:

      Mail is a bit of a frustration. Although it should be free to collect, we pay 50c ever time we collect mail at the post office (ensures they call us to come and get it). No mail delivery – just go to the post office and hope it’s there. We have about an 80% success rate. DHL, UPS and FedEx all service Phnom Penh (not rural though) and it is very expensive. I wouldn’t recommend Cambodia for a business that is dependent on mail. I believe mail in Thailand is very reliable.

    • Emily says:

      Definitely try to use a mailing service that is traceable, like DHL mentioned above, because many local mailing services are not reliable – particularly for a business.

  • Jill says:

    Interesting article. I’ve never traveled abroad-I’m just not much of an adventuresome person and would be very homesick. My aunt and Uncle were missionaries in Africa most of my growing up yrs; my cousins were raised there. I remember hearing stories abt how they had to flee their home in the middle of the night due to dangerous situations. Definitely the safety of the country you’re planning to move to is something to seriously consider.

    • vickie says:

      Jill I’m so glad that you brought this up -I too was wondering about safety in the country that people decide to move to. That should be on the top of the list- then how cheaply you could live. I also wonder could they find a cheaper place to live in our country.
      Just a thought

      • Jill says:

        With the recent imprisonment of pastor Saeed in Iran and the Lack of action taken by the State dept/ current administration, it seems that being an American citizen in another country could be less than an ideal living situation.

        • Megan says:

          This is a very unique situation. The embassies and State dept. staff I’ve dealt with, throughout Africa at least, have been fantastic and are typically over-cautious, warning people of potential dangers and – in rare cases – evacuating US citizens if necessary. Now, if you ignore State department travel bans, or break the laws of the country you’re visiting,then you might not receive those same protections.

  • Dee Wolters says:

    Great article! While we did not move overseas, we did make many of the same deicisions 25 years ago. We grew up and attended college in California, and both found jobs in CA. But the cost of living was very high, and I really wanted to stay home when we had kids. My husband had a good job, but the salary scale was the same for the whole country, so the $ did not go very far in CA. We decided to move somewhere with a lower cost of living, so his salary would support our family. We left all our family and friends and moved to Oklahoma, where my husband’s company had offered him a job. Our cost of loving dropped 40%!!! With everything the same, actually, we rented a larger, nicer apartment.

    Over the past 25 years, we have lived in Ok, TX, GA, ID and TN. Our kids have been ok with the moves, good and bad in each place. Always new adventures and opportunities. And we met wonderful people in each new community! So, thinking outside the box to make your dreams come true is wonderful. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

  • Jenevieve says:

    I think in many situations living abroad is a fantastic opportunity to save money, however there are SO many variables that what works well for one family very well may not work for another. We moved to the UK 5 months ago, and although we are saving some money, it’s not because we moved abroad or because we live in a rural village!

    I would definitely have to second many comments here made about simply adjusting your lifestyle…whether abroad or in the States. In England, many people don’t have dishwashers, they don’t have clothes dryers, and they are simply more content (in general) to do with less. We air dry all our clothes (something I never thought of doing in the States!), hand wash all our dishes, and use our fireplace for heating to help save on heating costs. Oh, and we have only one car. Every little bit helps!

  • Brooks says:

    So many negative Nellies! This is a great post on one person’s experience. No one is telling you to pack up and move but you don’t have to pick apart because you disagree.

    • Megan says:

      I was thinking the same! Particularly all the comments about researching before you go – I can’t imagine that Genevieve and her family (or anyone else) would just pick up and move to another country without any research or planning.

  • Allie says:

    This is a great article! However, our family is planning on moving to south of Russia as missionaries this summer and actually the cost of living there is just as expensive, if not more so. Gas is $6 a gallon, milk is over $5-6 and beef is too expensive to even consider buying. But most people there eat very simply and walk much of the time, so I plan on trying to adapt to the culture as much as possible – and try my hand at shopping at the open air market! (minus the raw meat hanging out!:)

  • kathy says:

    Very interesting post! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I have no experience in this area to add but one thought occurs to me. If your Church family and religious activities are important to you this will be a factor to consider especially in countries that may not be open to the Gospel. Good luck to all wherever your quest for economic security takes you.

  • Chelsea says:

    I can see how this would work well for some and not so great for others. I applaud you for taking a leap of faith and trying it. I think there is something very eye opening about studying cultures outside of the United States. Even as a minimalist, I don’t need half the stuff I have, and I think that is really difficult to grasp without understanding how little people actually live with. That being said- I’ve never lived or even traveled abroad, myself. I know several who do regularly for missions though, and their pictures are eye opening!

  • I love that Genevieve describes herself as a reformed corporate stresshead. I think it’s really intimidating for young families to go abroad because family support is really important when a couple becomes a family, but expat communities are really supportive of one another. Hope this post encourages people out of their comfort zones and try a little travel.

  • Jacki says:

    I would echo a mix of many comments made by others. As an American living in Europe, I can attest to the fact that the cost of living with the Euro isn’t going to help you save, especially if you are getting paid in dollars and have to take the exchange rate into consideration. At one point a few years ago for every $100 we received only $50- ouch! Healthcare also needs to be a huge consideration: insurance, level of care, availability of specialists if needed. We are overseas as missionaries, but there is a large expat community around us due to both a US Navy base and a NATO base. If you are working for those groups and have the luxury of the cost of living adjustments/huge housing allowances they are granted, you’ll be living large and enjoying your american commodities while you have the extra funds to also do some amazing travel. But if you really want to live on the local economy, expect that your experience will entail some big adjustments and potential sacrifices. It’s not all rosey as this gal portrays.

  • Wow, Genevieve, I really admire your spunk. I can’t imagine picking up and moving across the world myself, but your story is awesome! 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    This is a fantastic article and moving to another country for a period of time is a wonderful way to learn to thrive on change as well as to be more gracious for the lifestyle enjoyed in America. I was born and raised in California and frequented Mexico since it was only a 1 hour away. I thoroughly enjoyed receiving the cultural experience and giving to the children but always remember feeling grateful once I crossed the border back home.

  • Keren says:

    Great article! Our family is going to Ecuador for five weeks this summer, and living there long term is certainly an option we are open to.

    Genevieve’s family is certainly not the only to have moved overseas for such reason, though perhaps this does seem “extreme” to some.

    Sometimes, the stress that some are referring to here comes from trying to live at the same pace and expectations as living in America (or other Westernized, “busy” culture.) That’s not to say living overseas will not provide its own challenges, but it sounds like this family has picked and chosen which particular challenges are best for their family at this season.

    Genevieve, you may enjoy this article if you haven’t already seen it:

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