How to Survive Financially on a Third Year Abroad
It’s easy to see a Third Year Abroad as a year-long holiday and it can end up costing a fair deal, depending on how you go about it. Here are some tips on how to survive financially:
- Choose a country where the cost of living is low. Think Southern Europe & South America and instead of heading to the capital or other big cities, where rent prices are high, head for smaller cities with fewer tourists. The most expensive countries in Europe are those in Scandinavia, as well as Switzerland and Ireland.
- If you’re planning to return home often then don’t pick a country too far away, as the price of intercontinental flights may well confine you to a backpacker’s budget. If you’re staying in Europe, find out which airports budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet fly to and work out how easy you’ll be able to get to your nearest airport.
- Taking a British Council teaching placement within a school is known to be well paid, at up to €1000/month, for only 12-18 hours of work per week. Another option is to find a paid internship or job (easier said than done!) which will cover your living costs.
- Jobs in the tourist industry sometimes provide you with free accommodation, food and transport, so that’s something worth looking into.
- If you stay within the EU then you won’t have to pay tuition fees to your home university, but if you wander further afield you may have to still pay them. Choosing to study abroad within in the EU you don’t have to pay anything to your host university, but outside of the EU the arrangement will vary with each university.
- Another benefit of choosing an Erasmus placement within the EU is that you’ll receive an Erasmus grant. The size of it will vary depending on where you’re going and how much your university decides to give you. I heard of one Italian university that gave its outgoing students €800 per month! This is by no means the norm, and for UK students it tends to be about €400 per month, although it’s paid in two instalments throughout the year.
- Find a part-time job. Don’t be put off by alarming headlines that proclaim extraordinary levels of unemployment. Once you arrive in your city, ask everyone you know if they’ve heard of any vacancies in bars/restaurants/shops/etc., and search Google for English schools/academies in the city, and then go in person to each one to ask if they need any native teachers. In my experience, there are many people just dying for a native English teacher, so even if these schools don’t have any vacancies, then you could always put up a personal advert advertising yourself for private lessons, and advertise on websites too. Word-of-mouth will be your best bet here, so don’t feel afraid to ask. And don’t worry if you haven’t done the TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Course, as although it probably helps, it’s not strictly necessary in many places.
- When house-hunting, look around as many flats as humanly possible. Arriving in a strange city by yourself can be as scary as hell but don’t chicken out and accept the first flat you come across. Only by viewing 10, 20, 30 flats will you get an idea of what is expensive and what’s good value, and by viewing lots of places, you may just find some spectacular deals. Try to do some research into rent prices before you arrive, and remember that smaller cities will be considerably cheaper. For example, I’ve heard that rooms in shared flats in Madrid cost around €500/month, whereas my room in Córdoba (a smaller city in poorer Andalucía) cost only €180/month.
- Look into which bank account will charge you the least for withdrawals abroad. I’ve heard that prepaid foreign currency Travel Money Cards (such as this one offered by the Post Office) offer good value for money.
There are countless other tips I could offer such as calculating a budget, shopping in cheaper supermarkets, but these are mainly common sense and can be applied to life in general, not just the Third Year Abroad. In conclusion however, your Year Abroad needn’t be prohibitively expensive and a lack of funds is certainly not a reason for not taking a Year Abroad, as there are many ways to get round this.