Creative Ways You Can Afford To Spend A Year Abroad Later!

You don’t need to be rich to spend a year abroad. Here are some clever, creative and simple ways you can save now for that year abroad later.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
clever, creative and simple ways you can afford a gap year abroad or a one-year family sabbatical abroad. 
clever, creative and simple ways you can afford a gap year abroad or a one-year family sabbatical abroad. 

Think Outside The Box: Creative ways you can make your year abroad a reality.

My husband and I always dreamed of living in France, but we never thought we could afford it until we did it. 

Sure, it’s easier to spend a year abroad with a flush bank account, but that’s not always possible. If you’re willing to think outside the box, with a bit of creativity, you can afford to spend a year abroad, even if you have a family. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

1- Ask your employer if you can take a year off  (ask for a sabbatical year).

It might be a long shot, but it’s worth asking your HR department if you can take a leave of absence, sometimes called a sabbatical. The benefit of taking a leave of absence vs quitting is when you return, you’ll still have your job.

2- Can you do your current job remotely?

If you’re lucky enough to have a job you can do remotely, you can do your job from anywhere in the world. 

Take Twitter, for instance; the CEO announced in 2020 that employees could work remotely indefinitely. Then, the CEO of Square, a financial services company, also followed suit

3- Find a new job that you can do remotely

If you don’t have a job you can do remotely and you’re open to finding a new job, check out Flexjobs.

4- Cut back on your expenses and save

The most obvious thing you can do to pad your savings account is to cut back on your spending. I’m not just talking about cutting back your Starbucks addiction here. Before we even started packing or applying for visas, our family cut thousands of dollars from our annual expenses by cutting the fat out of our lives. No cable, used cars, thrifting, etc. 

5- Sell Your Unwanted Stuff

It’s incredible how much crap you can accumulate, especially if you have kids. Instead of trashing it all, try selling it to help fund your year abroad. Make a big garage sale or sell stuff on, craigslist, or Kijiji in Canada.

6- Volunteer Abroad/ Trade For Lodging and Food

If you would rather volunteer or work in exchange for lodging and food while abroad, there are volunteer programs worldwide. You should know that many volunteer abroad programs cost money. I’ve seen some programs charge a few thousand dollars for less than six months. Don’t be discouraged because there are some volunteer programs where you don’t have to pay, but those are hard to find.

My sons have both used to find volunteer opportunities all over the world. You’ll find all sorts of volunteer programs, from feeding elephants in Thailand and Gardening in Scotland to helping someone fix up their Chateau. Simply apply, and if you’re accepted, it’s up to you to arrange for a visa and transportation. 

7- Home Exchange

Suppose you live in a highly desirable place like San Francisco, New York or another popular destination. In that case, you can easily exchange your house with someone who lives abroad in an equally desirable location.  Try Home exchange

Home Exchange

With over 400,000 homes in 187 countries, you can exchange homes with someone for your next vacation.

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8- Rent Your Home To Offset Costs.

Consider renting your home or subletting your apartment, which is an excellent way to offset your costs while also ensuring you have a place to stay when you get back from your year abroad. If you rent your home fully furnished, you can rent it for even more. Look at sites like or Airbnb. 

Sabbatical Homes

Sabbatical Homes is the academic community's resource for home exchange, But you don't have to be an academic to use their site. My husband and I used to find a furnished home to rent for a year in France.

Learn More

9- Go Somewhere Where The Cost Of Living Is Lower

Your money goes further if you live someplace where the cost of living is lower. Popular and cheap destinations are South East Asia, South America, Mexico, Portugal and more. Switzerland is notoriously expensive.

10- Start your own consulting business

Many consulting businesses can be managed and run entirely online. I’ve met many people who travel full time with kids for years because they work as consultants, web designers, copywriters, etc.

11- Teach English or Music abroad or online

If you speak English or play an instrument, you already have a skill you can teach others. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, a video-sharing software such as Skype and maybe a simple 2-page website to start.

If you want to teach English at an accredited school abroad, you’ll need to get TEFL certified. Here’s a little more information about teaching English online

Premier TEFL- Get certified online to Teach English As A Second Language

Do you speak English? Teach it! Online or Abroad.

Get TEFL certified & qualify for 1000’s of jobs. TEFL courses are English Government-regulated, Internationally recognized, and employer approved. Lower priced than most.

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12- Become a virtual assistant and do administrative jobs remotely for various companies and people

The web is full of entrepreneurs and businesses looking for other people to do small, odd jobs, administrative tasks, and higher-level duties like Data entry, freelance writing, designing logos, etc.

Go and check out Upwork or They have thousands of one-off jobs posted by people and companies looking for your help. 

13- Sell your photography

If you have an eye for photography and love taking pictures, you can sell your photos on stock photography sites like Istockphoto. People go there and pay for the rights to use your images. There’s a lot of competition, and it doesn’t pay much, but if you love doing it, why not get paid for your hobby?

14- Live more simply while you live abroad

Maybe you won’t be able to live it up in a posh area of Paris, but there are many affordable places to live abroad. In France, for instance, you can rent a home for less than 500 euros a month if you live in a small rural area. Here’s how much it cost our family to live in France for one year. 

Human statue street performer in Montpellier France

15- Become a travelling street performer

Europe is filled with street performers who rake in cash. I’ve seen people playing instruments, break dancing,  playing the drums with pots and pans, living human statues, magicians and more. 

16- Travel across Europe in an RV

Imagine a year living in an RV as you explore another continent, visiting famous landmarks and enjoying the local culture. Whole families are doing this, so why not you? 

17- Use your savings, retirement fund or sell stocks

 You’ll have to do some soul-searching for this one.

18-Sell Your Home to fund your travels

People really do sell their homes and use the funds for travel. Many of the families I know have done this work remotely and live much more cheaply than when they owned a home. Only you can know whether or not this is the right option for you to take.  Check out how this family did it.

Every situation is different.

There are so many more ways you can afford to spend a year abroad. Only you can decide which solution(s) is best for you and your comfort level.  Just remember, there will always be an excuse why you CAN’T spend a year abroad. Don’t let fear stop you; look past your limiting beliefs.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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