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How did/do you balance saving vs lifestyle on a temporary placement?

(4 Posts)
heppi Wed 11-Jan-17 06:04:48

We are on a two year placement in a very expensive country. Because of cost of living and other allowances DH is receiving almost double our net UK income, with no housing costs.

Theoretically, we could save a lot of money while we are here, but in the first six months we haven't saved a penny. There have been a lot of costs in getting set up, but we have also been on a holiday, one which we never would have been able to do from the UK.

The day-to-day living costs are high, which is fair enough, that's what the cost of living allowance is for. But it's the optional extras, living the expat life, which could really make a difference if we reined it in.

I'm torn between making the most of being here - the lifestyle, travelling - and saving so that we have something to go home with, something which makes this disruption in our lives (well, mine mostly, DH and the dcs' lives have continued pretty much as they were) worth it in the long run.

Or is the experience what makes it worth it?

InTheDessert Wed 11-Jan-17 06:50:18

We spent every penny in the first 6 months. Setting up somewhere new is expensive.
Since then, spending has naturally settled down, and hence saving has commenced. We live in a place where pay is big to convince people to come here. It's not a desirable destination!
We save a good portion, but we don't think about the cost of nice things - food bill has as much imported stuff as we desire, we eat out when we want, and have just had a week away for new year, spending £££. As you say, it's cheaper to explore the local area than fly from the UK in a few years time.
The family we know who are adamant they will save every penny they can are struggling. Social life is restricted, she hates is, as is basically given £150/ week. I spend nearly than that in the supermarket, and it needs to cover pre school fees.
If I were you, I'd look at what needs to be spent to match UK living standards, then maybe half the remainder between fun and saving. How would that work?

ShanghaiDiva Wed 11-Jan-17 08:18:42

I think it has to be a balance: there is no point in moving to a new country if you are going to sit a home every day to save money.
We started out as expats in Europe and were able to save and travel as we could drive to so many places. We are now in Asia and have travelled a lot, it seems crazy not to visit Australia and NZ from here. We have, however, saved a lot too (been expats for over 20 years) probably because when we were in Europe there were only a handful of expats and no real expat life - just normal life in a standard town/village.
You can certainly spend a lot on a expat lifestyle in China and we do spend a lot on food, wine and eating out, but our package is good and all other expenses (rent, car, utilities, school, medical, dental etc) are covered by the company. We do have a savings target (DH -sets them quarterly - the joy of being married to the CFO) but we both want to travel too. We are not bothered about staying in 5 * resorts - happier to be in a small, family run hotel. which also saves money.
Agree with Dessert - set a target and have a fund for travel and fun too.

DamnCommandments Wed 11-Jan-17 09:07:07

We're on our second overseas post - both times we've started saving low and worked up. Maybe next month tuck a little away, and see how you feel about your spending. If it was OK, and you didn't feel too restricted, tuck away a little more. For me, though, these short postings are there to be enjoyed. If you're not having some fun, you're doing in wrong, and you'll be unhappy (especially in a non-prime location).

This time, we're spending loads on accommodation, to give the kids and I an easy place to live, closer to school. Since that's our main expense it's easier to justify than holidays/meals out. But if regular travel and eating out are what it takes to make it fun/easy, I say do it.

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