– ‘Have you won the lottery?’
– ‘I wish I could do what you do.’
These are sentences that I often hear. Now that I have traveled full-time for 1½ year, I want to share details about how much it costs me to live this way.
But first, let’s take a look at a few snapshots from my life since I left on July 6th, 2016.
MY EXPENSES IN DENMARK
Let me start by telling what I had for regular expenses at home in Denmark. Here I had an old (cheap) 145 sqm/1560 sq ft house from 1856 in the countryside. And here are houses cheap in that area. I paid about 134,000 Euro/$ 162,000 for it. My car was not flashy – a leased Hyundai i30.
Nevertheless, the fixed expenses each month rose to around € 2950/$ 3560 with insurance, water, heating, electricity, internet, cable, etc..
This figure I will put up against expenses for transport and accommodation.
LIVING COSTS WHEN TRAVELING VS HOME
Of course, there are also living costs (food and pleasure), but those are not higher while traveling compared to Denmark. Living costs in Denmark are markedly higher than most of the places I visit.
For the most part, I choose to live somewhere with a kitchen so that I can cook myself, but it’s clear that I eat more out now. And at the restaurant prices in most of the places I’ve been, can hardly be done cheaper than cooking myself.
Also, when you have a house or apartment you often go shopping and buy a lot of things – just because you have a place to ask. At least I did so. For example, I had a ton of kitchen appliances and tools that I didn’t really need.
As I’m out of Denmark, I’m not covered by the Danish health service. Therefore, I have taken out an insurance covering all the health and the valuables I travel with. It costing me € 4700/$ 5665 per year (around € 390/$ 470 per month). It may sound like a lot of money, but considering that there are also distinct tax benefits in connection with being out of Denmark, it’s not that bad – and a necessary expense.
So let’s compare the fixed costs from my life in Denmark (€ 2950/$ 3560) with what I’ve spent on transportation and accommodation per month in the first year and a half.
The average is € 1250/$ 1500 and adding the insurance I’m on € 1640/$ 1975 per month. So almost half my fixed expenses living in Denmark.
FIVE MONTHS STAND OUT
As you can see, five months that stand out as a bit more expensive. The two most expensive were March and April 2017. It was while my youngest daughter traveled with me for four months and I had invited my eldest daughter to visit us in Japan. So there were some extra expenses for airline tickets. Also, Japan is a rather expensive country.
In October 2016 I was in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where I spent a lot more on accommodation, and in October 2017 I was in Denmark to do some work. Here I rented a car and stayed a week at the hotel in connection with this assignment.
At the other end, September 2016 stands out. Here I was a month in North Carolina, where I did not have to pay rent at all. I was “Housesitting” and took care of a house, two dogs, and watered the plants.
If we take these five months out, the average ends at € 1490/$ 1800 including insurance.
I STILL WORK
As you probably know, I’m still working. I am a business owner running my production company, Radioguru, where I produce radio advertising (for Danish customers), podcasts (for both Danish and international customers), providing sound design and voiceovers for online videos as well as television and cinema commercials. Also, I’m involved in a few different projects, which also generates a smaller income for me.
HOW I LIVE
I try to stay away from hotels. Especially chain hotels are very similar around the world (when I do that, I primarily use Hotels25.com, which searches many hotel search sites at the same time). But I prefer living like the locals so I primarily useAirbnb.com. Sometimes I choose to book the entire place and sometimes I just book a room at a local which of course also is cheaper. I even use hostels.
Often, I can negotiate a lower price of accommodation.
It’s very rarely flashy places I stay at. I have a limit of around € 40/$ 50 DKK 300 per night. In some places, it is much cheaper and I also allow myself to spend more if I feel that I deserve to be spoiled with a little luxury.
About transportation, it has been by any means. Planes, buses, trains, ferries, hire cars, shared taxis or even tri-cycles / tuk-tuks. Here, where I am now (North-West Africa) I have, for example, chosen to go “overland” – not to fly. This is partly because it is a huge adventure (although it is much more challenging), but primarily because it’s cheaper. Even MUCH cheaper.
I do not live in luxury, but comfortably. If you are (younger) backpacker, you can certainly do it much cheaper than me. Being on ‘the good side’ of 50, I allow myself (for the most part) a little better than dorms at hostels.
MANY CAN DO THE SAME
So to go back to the two sentences at the start: No, I have not won the lottery. This lifestyle is not for everyone; some have other dreams and other priorities. But many will be able to live in this way. Of course, it requires that you can be location independent (work everywhere). But there are many possibilities and often you can create a work you can do anywhere. And then you have to just throw yourself into it. If you have the opportunity to create a job where you do not depend on where you are, then it should not be the economy that stops you.e economy that stops you.