Four unexpected money-saving secrets for expats

Published February 16th, 2016 - 03:00 GMT
Make your money last longer with sneaky savings. (File)
Make your money last longer with sneaky savings. (File)

Moving to a new country can feel overwhelming financially. There's new currency, new bills, and sometimes a completely different lifestyle! It can be easy to fall into bad spending habits. Here are a few insider secrets to help save money while living far from home.

1. Use public transportation - Private rental cars and taxis can add up quickly. Research local bus routes - some buses are just a few cents a ride! Many countries in the Middle East have "servicees" - shared taxis that ride set routes, similar to a bus system. Egypt has "tuktuks," a special type of open-air, automobile rickshaw. Some neighborhoods might be quiet enough to bike or walk through. Saving even a few dollars a day adds up to a lot at the end of the month!

2. Open a local bank account - Withdrawing money with a foreign card can hit you with double the fees! Some banks charge you for using an ATM outside of their branch, and the local ATMs charge you for not belonging to their branch. You can easily be charged $10-15 just for withdrawing cash. A local bank account held in local currency will also cut out struggling with exchange rates.

3. Watch out for hidden fees at dinner - Many restaurants provide bottled water and bread before the meal - but many times, these items are added on at a high price to the end of your bill. Taxes can be much higher than your home country. Before you order, check with your waiter: How much is the food tax? Is there a gratuity fee or service charge added? This can save you from being shocked when the bill arrives after your meal!

4. Take advantage of free local tourism - Large archeological sites and well-known national tourist attractions can be very expensive: not just admission, but travel, lodging nearby, and food can all be a couple extra dollars near popular attractions. Wander off the main tourist path to find inexpensive and exciting alternatives. Are there hiking or biking paths around your city? Are there public-access beaches or parks? Ditch the pre-printed guidebooks and turn online: what places are local bloggers checking out? Are there new neighborhoods or attractions that show up on popular instagram feeds in your new city? You might discover something even more fun than you planned!

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