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5 Tips for Studying Abroad on a Budget

By Guest Writer

Updated September 26, 2016 Updated September 26, 2016

Guest post: Julianne Sloane

Studying abroad is a great adventure, but of course comes at a cost. As well as tuition fees, you’ll need to consider accommodation, living expenses, travel, and possibly visa fees and health insurance. If you’re keen to make sure your study abroad experience stays within budget, follow these five tips – including some useful websites and apps.

1. Book your flights early.

It seems obvious, but as soon as you know you will be studying abroad, begin looking at ticket prices. Depending on how far you are going, buying a ticket in advance could save you a significant amount. This saving can then be used for additional travel on weekends or in semester breaks.

Generally, study abroad paperwork is completed well in advance of when you actually leave for your trip, so there is no excuse for not finding a good deal on your flight.

The best fares for tickets tend to be found on Tuesdays, 7-12 weeks in advance of when you want to fly. If you have flexible travel dates, try to book flights in the middle of the week, as these dates are often less expensive than on the weekend. Make use of flight comparison websites like Google Flights and Skyscanner, and apps such as Hopper, which tells you the best time to fly and buy.

2. Live in shared accommodation.

Living in a shared house or flat is not only a great way to save money, it’s also a great way to make friends in your new location. Generally the university you are studying abroad at will provide resources to help you find accommodation, and you may have the option to live in student halls. You can also search for shared accommodation using websites such as EasyRoommate.com, WeRoom.com, Student.com, SpareRoom (for the UK) or Craigslist (in the US).

In case you don’t find a room before you arrive, try finding temporary accommodation through sites such as Hostelworld or Airbnb. This can also be a good starting point if you’re not sure which neighborhood you want to live in – giving you a chance to scope out different parts of the city.

If you’re worried about sharing a home with strangers while studying abroad, some tips for maintaining the peace are:

  • Meet in person (or via Skype) before agreeing to move in. Make sure you feel comfortable before committing to the lease!
  • Communicate your expectations.Make sure your housemates know what your expectations are. Be sure to discuss cleanliness, noise levels and how you will split the bills. You could try a free app like Splittable to track and split shared expenses.
  • Address problems as they come up. Is your new housemate taking up the bathroom all morning? Do they always leave dishes in the sink? Let them know this is an issue sooner rather than later – don’t let problems grow!

3. Embrace street food.

Trying new cuisine is hands-down one of the best ways to get into your study abroad experience. Unfortunately, depending on which country you are living in, eating out at restaurants can really break the bank. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hit the top TripAdvisor spots, but balance that with eating at cheaper local places.

Ask your classmates where their favorite places to eat are. Students have a knack for finding the best places to get tasty food on a budget. Street food can serve as a great way to solve your culinary budget problems while still making the most of the local cuisine!

4. Use public transport.

At home you probably take buses/the metro, and studying abroad doesn’t need to be any different. Google Maps should be your best friend, as it can recommend the correct bus/metro routes to take in most major cities. Also, check to see if you can get any student discounts on public transportation. Most universities will provide information about how to get student discounts on travel cards.

5. Take overnight buses instead of flights when exploring.

If you’re travelling around the country or region during weekends or semester breaks, consider taking an overnight bus instead of flying. This can be a huge cost-saver, allowing you to save money both on accommodation and the cost of plane tickets. Bus rides can also be great cultural experiences. For example, in South America buses often stop in villages for night meals, or have vendors enter in and out. You’ll see, hear and smell all kinds of things (and may even find yourself sat next to some local livestock), making the journey one of the most memorable parts of your trip.

Julianne Sloane


 Julianne Sloane is the growth marketer at Splittable App – a free tool for tracking and splitting your shared household expenses. 

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This article was originally published in September 2016 .

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