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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:

Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

What is the cost of living?

What do things cost?  Will I be able to save any money?

This is a question that is critical to your survival overseas.  A salary means nothing until you know the context into which it is set.  You have to know what your daily expenses will be - in relation to your pay check.

Ask Existing Expatriates

While it would be nice to say, "Ask this on the discussion boards on the Internet" - it doesn't always work that way.  You can't really ask about the cost of living in Panama - you need to ask about a specific city in general and about your specific circumstances.  At one time, the author worked in Chung-ju, Korea, but the cost of living there was vastly different than if he had worked in Seoul, Korea - one of the most expensive cities in the world.  You need to ask the existing employees where you are going to work - before making a final decision.  Sometimes that is not possible - then ask on the discussion boards.  Be as specific as possible.


Housing in particular is a big issue.  In some countries, it is provided free as it is prohibitively expensive or requires deposits equal to a year's wages.  In some countries, you will need to pay for it yourself and it can be quite expensive depending on where you choose to live.  The author paid over US$850 per month for an apartment in Taipei - more than half his base wages per month at the time.  But he wanted to live in the financial district so he could easily teach business classes at major companies in the evening.   Also, he had lived far away from the action in his previous job in another country and wanted to be in the middle of a major city.  It was well worth it. 

If you must provide your own housing find out what the range of costs are.  And find out if the low end quoted is a "rat trap" or not.  Expect potential employers to "lowball" the cost of housing.


Everyone's lifestyle is different.  If you are a party kind of person and enjoy clubbing every weekend, many pay checks won't go far.  Guaranteed!  If clubbing is on your agenda, find out what it costs.


Price everything that is important to you.  You might was well know before you go - what things are going to cost.  Not knowing these things will affect your quality of life and you might as well know now. 

People on discussion boards will happily tell you what a nice dinner out at an Indian restaurant will cost (if it exists in that town), or other unique things that are part of your enjoyment of life. 

Know before you go.



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