This ‘You Can Travel’ inspirational feature comes from Allison Judkins of Seeking Neverland. Originally from Las Vegas, Allison’s game changer happened in 2013 when she went on her first backpacking to Europe and realised that the desk life wasn’t for her. Today she lives in Prague and runs Seeking Neverland to encourage everyone to step out their comfort zones.
Life after college was anything but exciting. I went to work for a huge corporation, aka I was another number sitting at a cubicle in a stuffy office. Miserable is a great word to describe my feelings. Going into work was equivalent to scratching nails on a chalkboard. I hated it.
Living abroad was always a dream of mine. The only problem with my dream was I had no money saved, no dual citizenship, and nearly impossible to get a paying job as an American in a foreign country. Then I discovered the option of teaching English abroad.
I came across an online certification program through International TEFL Academy. It was going to be almost $1,000. Weighing my pros and cons I new if I spent the money to get certified then I absolutely had to move abroad. I opened up an excel spreadsheet, wrote down all my bills, cost of moving abroad, and how much I would need to save in order to make my dream of living abroad a reality. The verdict?
What is the Realistic Cost of Moving Abroad?
I needed to save $20,000 in order to move in a comfortable fashion. Comfortable meaning I would have plenty of money for travelling, spare money in case of emergency, and money to return back to the US with. I don’t recommend going home with $0 unless you have family willing to support you. I didn’t have that luxury.
My disposable income after tax, insurance, and retirement contributions was only $30,000. My bills for the year totalled to $15,000 ($1,250/month), which meant I had a possibility to save $16,000 in a year. But is it always that easy?
No. I wasn’t factoring in holidays, birthdays, emergencies, etc. So the realistic amount was around $12,000, which meant I needed to come up with another $8,000 to reach my savings goal. So how did I save an extra $8,000 in one year? Here’s how.
How Did I Save Money to Move Abroad?
- I got a side gig: $4,000
- I sold my car: $3,000
- I cut my unnecessary spending way back – switching to cheaper beauty brands (i.e. hair care and makeup), stopped getting my hair done, drove less to save on gas, and only cooked at home: $1,000
If you’re reading this thinking about how boring and exhausting my life must have been you are 100% correct. I didn’t do much, fell out of touch with a few friends, and spent most of my entertainment at the gym or designing my website. The benefits were I got into shape and finally moved to Prague!!!
Life in Prague
Getting adjusted in a new country was by far the most difficult thing I have gone through. I felt extreme loneliness and doubted myself more than once. But as the days passed so did the sadness, and before I knew it I was so happy with my decision to live abroad.
While in Prague, I made friends, learned tiny bits of Czech, and travelled all around Europe – my favourite spots being Belgium, UK, and Spain. Hoping on a $12 flight to Berlin for the weekend is something I would never have been able to do living in the U.S.
The truth is, moving to a foreign country does cost money and it’s even harder when you make little. But I never said it’s impossible. Stick to your goals, work hard, and constantly remind yourself that your hard work will pay off. It’s never about how much you make. It’s how well you save.