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Chelsea: Hey guys! It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet and today I'm going to be talking about something that may have interested you at some point and has definitely has interested me and that's living abroad. Now living abroad is something that probably conjures this image of something, you know, expensive or logistically difficult in your mind that you can really only do if you're, like, studying abroad or you get a fancy job over there. And that you really have to some kind of set up to really accomplish. But I'm someone who lived abroad, actually in France for a few years. And I did it while not being rich, not studying abroad and not having some, you know, fancy set up with a french company. 

I consider myself living proof, along with all the other people I knew over there, that you can live abroad in a million different ways. And that there are tons of financial misconceptions about what it takes to live abroad and what it costs when you're actually doing it. So to help clear up some of those misconceptions and perhaps inspire you to consider living abroad more seriously, I've gathered 7 myths that I've found totally untrue about the financial reality of living abroad.

Number 1. You have to be studying abroad. Now this one is just totally untrue. Whether or not you're a student, you don't have to go through a study abroad program of some American university to be able to experience the country of your choice. And in fact, for a lot of people, studying abroad is one of the most expensive ways to travel because your options are pretty limited in terms of how much you can work, where you can live, how much the program costs et cetera, et cetera.

Now while this is definitely an option and an easy one logistically for people who are already attending an American university, it's worth considering that a lot of the quote unquote "native schools" of the places you're going to be looking at are a lot more affordable than a study abroad program. One of the huge benefits of a study abroad program is obviously that all of the administrative, logistical stuff is already in place and there's a system to help you at your own school, but that doesn't mean you can't think outside the box. 

Number 2. You can't go to a "real" school in the country of your choice. Now a lot of people think that in order to study or get a degree abroad you need to do it through an American program that exists at one of their schools, but that's totally untrue. I personally didn't go through a study abroad program. I went to a French speaking school that had barely any Americans. And it's worth noting that this school was a fraction of the cost of most study abroad programs. Mine was about $2,000 a semester. 

Now obviously it helps to be fluent in the language of whatever country your visiting to study in, but that doesn't mean that your options are totally eliminated if you don't. I know several people who have very little grasp of the language of the country that they're in, but they're able to do programs and even complete degrees because almost all of the course work is in English. And in fact all of the grad students that I currently know in a variety of countries are doing these degrees in English. Now it's important to consider the kind of degrees that are often offered in English, but some sure bets are things like business, marketing, political science, and things like communications and consulting. Those are specific areas where you'll have a very good chance of having a variety of degree options that are all offered in English. And these are all quote unquote "real" schools with native students.

3. You have to be a student. Now in some ways being a student is the easiest route to live abroad and if I'm being honest, I do know some people who just keep taking on more and more grad school because they never wanna leave the country that they're living in. But this is obviously not a good thing and being a student is not the only route to living abroad. I know plenty of people who are living abroad through a huge variety of different jobs, and when they want to learn the language they do so through more, let's say "native" means. Like going to meet ups, having tutors, going to cocktail hours to practice, things like that. Learning a language in a class environment is awesome, but it's not the only way to learn it. The idea that you need to be a student to live abroad or that student visas are the only ones available to you is a mindset that often comes from only thinking in terms of the study abroad programs that you might have been told about. There are dozens of different visas for different countries and student is only one of many. Now if you're wondering the kind of visa that might be right for you, I would suggest to start by looking at the kind of jobs that you're interested in and then working backwards from there. We'll include a link to figuring out the visa process in different countries in the description.

4. Jobs are really hard to find. Now when I first moved to France, my job was an au pair, which meant that in addition to my monthly stipend I got things like a studio to live in, my food and bills paid for and just was generally taken care of enough that I could focus on my studies. After about a year of being an au pair I transitioned to being a full-time freelance writer in France and I tutored English on the side when I needed more money. Now I know people living abroad who are English teachers, web developers, designers, illustrators, tour guides, museum docents, pretty much everything you can think of. Not once in my time living abroad did I ever not have a job and even though some were better paying than others, they were all more than enough to get by in a city like Paris.

Pretty much all of the expats I knew when I was living abroad lived pretty humble lives financially, but we found things to do that barely cost anything in our social lives like, you know, meet ups, picnics, cultural activities, museums, etc. There's this really big myth that when you live abroad and work abroad it's because you have this really high paying job and you live this kind of like fancy ambassador lifestyle, but that's almost never the case. And just like in America, the hustle economy applies and if you feel like your main job isn't bringing you in enough money it's up to you to find ways to supplement that. And one of the biggest privileges of being a native English speaker is that living abroad means that you will almost always have options for gainful employment. It took me all of 48 hours notice every time I wanted to find a new tutoring client. And I taught English to everyone from high level consultants to random students that were 19 years old. Yes, the job search is a little bit more competitive than it is in America, but there are also jobs that are available to you there that don't exist here. It just depends on how hard you're willing to look. 

5. You have to have a job in the country. Now from my last 2 years in France, I was on what's called a "visitor" visa. And the visitor visa, at least in the EU, means that you have enough money to live here and you're on the grid and everything, but the money's not coming from this country. Now what I had to do to prove to qualify for this visa was show that I earned more than the French minimum wage, that I had an apartment, that I had all of my bills under my own name, and that I had enough money in my bank account. Now this visa allows people like freelancers, a remote employees to live legally in the country without earning their money in that country. So if you're someone who could work from basically anywhere, you might be surprised that it's pretty logistically easy to live in a country of your choice as long as you can prove your income. 

6. Living abroad is too expensive. Now that's just as ridiculous as saying living in America is too expensive, although depending on where you live that might be true. But what I mean by that is that it just depends on your lifestyle. It can either be really expensive or really affordable depending on how you live. Now in all the time I lived in Paris I never took in more than $40,000 a year and it was never a problem. I didn't go shopping that often, I lived in an affordable apartment, I traveled intelligently and not that often, and I didn't go out to eat all the time like you might imagine living in France. People get this look on their face when you say you live in Paris, like "Oh my God, you must be so rich" but no, you are only rich if you're living your life like a perfume commercial. I wasn't out there buying macaroons and handbags and jewelry and all of those things, but you don't have to either. And actually my cost of living in terms of things like apartments was about half of what it is in New York when I was in Paris, which is something that always surprises people. But there are rich people and broke people in every country including the one that you want to go to. 

7. It's a logistical nightmare to get there. So yes, it definitely can be a logistical nightmare to move to a new country, but if you give yourself a year to really prepare, pretty much anyone can do it. First you obviously have to save up the money for all of the moving costs. Now for me I think at the bare minimum should be $5,000 for things like a one way ticket, all of your administrative fees, getting set up, buying all the things you'll need when you arrive there, and to have a cushion. And that's of course outside of things like, you know, your basics like rent. And this of course assumes that you're going to be having some sort of a job or a source of income when you get there.

And there a ton of ways to get save that money from just simple things like going out less to getting side jobs. I babysat in addition to my regular job for pretty much an entire year and put all of that money directly into my "France Fund". And when it comes to things like the administrative side like visas, you know, making sure you have insurance, getting your job, etc. obviously there are tons of great resources online from people who've already done it, which I will link to some in the description, but also keep in mind that a lot of jobs and schools help you with the application processes.

For example, when I was an au pair it was actually my host family who was doing most of the visa process for me. Tons of jobs and schools and programs have visa processes in place, so never assume you're going to be alone. And I would make sure at the six month from when you're planning to leave point you've definitely started all of your administrative process. Just make sure to give yourself enough buffer, so that if your visa arrives late or anything takes longer than expected you're not finding yourself with a plane ticket for a plane you're not legally allowed to get on. So remember, at the one year mark start saving specifically for your move and at the sixth month mark make sure you've started all of your paperwork processes. The more of a buffer you leave yourself with the better because there is nothing worse than the "Oh shit, I'm about to move abroad panic".

Living abroad doesn't have to be expensive, it doesn't have to happen through a study abroad program, and it doesn't mean that you have to live some crazy, extravagant lifestyle when you get there. Living abroad is something pretty much everyone can do if you're willing to plan for it and the first step is deciding that you're ready to take the plunge. And as always don't forget to hit the subscribe button and to go to for more. Bye!