How to Live Well on $1,000 a Month

By Robert Seviour

My son is a university student, he receives a grant of £3,000 ($6,000) a year and somehow finances his life with that. I asked him how he manages on so little. He replied that the only things he spends money on are rent and food. He said he lives on ‘Rice and ketchup’.

For the time being he’s happy enough with his lifestyle, but let me tell you about an alternative to penny-pinching, for adults with a low income.

Actually, I’m going to re-phrase that; the problem is not that you have too low an income, it’s that the cost of living in countries including the USA, Canada and Ireland and Britain is too high. You don’t need me to tell you that if your home is in one of those places.

To fill up a shopping cart at the supermarket costs a hundred pounds or the same in dollars. A cup of coffee in Starbucks is two dollars, a haircut is ten bucks and a short ride on a city bus $2.45. I guess some people take this in their stride, I don’t, those prices seem outrageous to me. Perhaps that is tolerable if you are on a big wage, but some of us aren’t, and have little prospect that we ever will be.

It appears that there are just two possible ways to adapt to this situation. Either you are very careful to spend only a minimum and always looking for the cheapest option from food to clothing and housing costs, Or you focus on pushing up your income by getting a better job or doing longer hours. But what kind of life is that? I’d say that it is depressing and tiring. You have little time for yourself and your family and when you are away from work, what you need most is a chance to get some sleep and relax.

For a good portion of my working life I put maximum effort into building up a business to make the income necessary to live the typical consumer lifestyle.. But doing so drained me and there came a point when I didn’t feel like battling on. Despite earning a lot, I still had a bank overdraft and credit card debts.

Then I took a radical step and moved to a cheaper country. It was a revelation; I discovered that the intense effort required to make a living in the rich, or should I say rip-off, countries is unnecessary. You don’t have to work like a dog to live well. In fact you can have a very pleasant life on just a fraction of the money you’ve required in your homeland.

Why don’t more people do this and live where a dollar goes far further? I imagine part of the reason is the assumption that reduced living costs mean a poorer quality of life. In my opinion it’s actually the opposite. With lower costs you don’t need to work so hard or for so long hours. The result is that you can relax and enjoy life very much more. There is nothing to stop you taking some free time to do the things which make life fun. Perhaps you like golf or tennis, sailing; whatever your favourite leisure activity, having the chance to do it when you choose makes a great improvement to your quality of life.

Another issue that faces you when considering moving abroad is whether you can earn money in your new country. The short answer to the question is that anyone can make money these days in any part of the planet where you can get an internet connection.

Another item to consider is where to move to. There are many possible locations. I chose Mexico and recommend it highly, but if you look at a list of the countries which make up our world, you will quickly see that there are very many other interesting possibilities. Obviously some places are not suitable, but there are more that are.

The list of factors to consider when thinking about living abroad continues with housing, local language, distance from friends and family, healthcare, education for children, crime-risk, pests, climate and more.

I’ve experienced life in 6 countries and have described the advantages and drawbacks that I found in these places in an article you will probably find interesting.

Here is what one reader commented;

“Robert, thank you very much to write such an excellent article on how to retire now. You've inspired me, and I'm thinking of Mexico as well. You've given much to think about. I like your attitude and philosophy. Since reading the entire article, I've already sent this to three other people just after I read it, and will be sending it to more.

I wish you the best...John”

Click this link to read the article and also, if you wish, subscribe to my newsletter, The Professional Vagabond, on living cheaply abroad. It is not a sales pitch of any type, In it I pass on interesting items to you from time to time specifically relating to your escape from the rat race.
Wishing you a happy future,


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Robert Seviour grew up in the UK and has lived in five other countries. He is a writer and presenter of seminars on business topics and living abroad. To see other articles by him visit

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