The following tables shows our total costs for each location to which we’ve travelled, and will be updated on an ongoing basis. It’s broken down into “Nomadic Travel” and “Travel Treats,” with additional details below, along with links to the blog post for each location.
Nomadic Travel – These are our costs while living on our budget of $160/day (Canadian, $124 US$, €124). So far we have averaged out to $136.47/day, which includes the expenses associated with flights, road trips, and some short-stays in more expensive locations.
Travel Treats – The first three locations on this list were trips that had been funded prior to our retirement, and were delayed due to Covid. Accordingly, we aren’t including them in our nomadic travel costs, but did write blog posts so have listed the costs here for interest’s sake. Occasionally we’ll treat ourselves on a short trip that will be more expensive, like the Alaskan cruise, and we won’t include those costs in the nomadic travel budget because we don’t consider it part of our normal nomadic lifestyle. If we are able to splurge, it’s because we’ve saved some money in lower cost locations, and are treating ourselves with a bit of a “vacation”.
Major Takeaways and Costs Explained – As can be seen in the table above, we are currently averaging $49.6k Canadian$ per year ($36.5k US$, €34k). This total includes all accommodation, transportation in-country (including gas and road tolls), groceries, restaurants, entrance fees, parking, health insurance/care, phone/data packages, and subscriptions (Netflix and other streaming services, software costs like VPNs, Adobe Creative suite, Quicken, web hosting, etc.). These tables reflect all our expenses for living our lives in the location, except for the cost of moving between major locations (ie, our flight from Canada to Europe, Europe to SE Asia, etc.).
The lowest priced regions were Bulgaria and Türkiye where we spent almost three months before prices started to creep up in 2022. You may also notice that the longer we stayed in a country the lower our costs became because transportation costs to the region are spread across a longer time, and AirBnB rentals usually offer discounts for weekly or monthly rentals. Road trips usually raise the spending, but you can see in places like Portugal where we stayed for almost a month in one location, taking advantage of the discounts for longer stay accommodations and less gas and road tolls, it averaged out comfortably below our $160 budget. As such, we know our average cost may be high at some locations, but locations like we’ll have in 2023 in SE Asia where the cost of living is lower should average things out a bit.
The great thing about this average is that it’s actually less than we were spending living in our house in Calgary, Canada, even though it was paid off and we had no mortgage. With no property taxes and utilities, home and car insurance and maintenance, the relatively high cost of living in North America, not to mention the other things we found ourselves spending money on even though we lived a pretty frugal life, we can do this for as much or less than living in one spot. So why wouldn’t we travel the world like this when we’re healthy and our kids are now independent?
Our Travel Style (Will our costs match yours?)
Quick vs Slow Travel: As you can probably tell from the table above, we move around pretty quickly, often staying a week or less in any one location. Even for the countries with longer durations we often stay in a few different cities to get a good feel of the region. So far we’ve been moving around like this so we could experience as many locations as possible, but it means we usually aren’t taking advantage of weekly or monthly discounts on Airbnbs, plus we’re spending money on transportation. Many nomads we know are slow travellers, staying in one location for at least a month to lower their costs and get the discounts. We’re slowing down a bit in later 2023, but in 2022 we wanted to take advantage of having the lease vehicle in Europe and see as much as we could while it was easy to do so.
Accommodation Choices: I consider our accommodation tastes to be pretty average, but we do a lot of searching on Airbnb, Booking.com, Agoda, VRBO, and other sites to get as good a deal as we can. You can check out the links in the middle of our About Us page to see the type of places we stay and what they cost. We know nomads who spend way more and way less than we do on accommodations, so figure out what you’re looking for and how that will impact your budget.
When staying more than one or two nights we’re normally looking for a highly rated and well reviewed Airbnb with the following amenities:
- A decently outfitted kitchen. We cook most of our own meals, but we’re not that fancy, so as long as there are some pots and pans, glasses, dishes and utensils we’re normally fine.
- A defined bedroom (not a studio, although we have done them for shorter stays if choice is limited).
- A comfortable seating area with a couch and TV. We’re not on vacation with our travels – this is our life – so relaxing watching Netflix is a normal evening activity. We also check the pictures of the TV on the listing to make sure it’s relatively new so we can attach our Firestick to use our own streaming accounts, along with news and other apps. Quite often the only stations you can get on the TV are in the local language, so it’s nice to have a consistent source of news and entertainment we can understand.
- A work area where we can set up our laptops with accessible plug-ins. Usually this is the kitchen table.
- A washing machine if we’re going to be staying a week or more.
What’s not included in these costs? As mentioned above, these costs include everything we paid for living in the location except for the cost of moving between major locations. This is because it will vary greatly depending on where you come from, your route, and the method of transportation. For us for the first year of nomadic travel this included the flights to and from Europe, and the flights within Europe (UAE and Spain – shorter travel by bus between neighbouring countries was included in the destination country’s cost). The total for all of these for the two of us was $4,291 Canadian$ ($3,231 US$, €3,237k), but can be much lower or higher depending on your location, route, and method of transport. We also don’t include any occasional clothing or cooking items that we’ll keep (like utensils or carry bags) because we’ll be using those items for a long time, but those costs are very low since we don’t buy much – maybe $25/month at the most.
Links to the blog posts with cost details for each location:
Please feel free to post a comment or use the Contact form if you have any questions.
5 thoughts on “Spending”
I am fascinated by your detailed website on your Nomad life. thank you for sharing!
Is the $US 3,231` for your 2021 travel or a whole year??
Thanks for all your information.
Hi Tamar. The $3,231 US$ I mentioned for the travel was for the “major” travels between locations (Canada to Europe, Egypt to UAE, UAE to Spain) for 2021. The costs of travelling between close locations (like Bulgaria to Turkey by bus, or flying Turkey to Jordan) was included in the report for the destination location. If you look at the cost breakdown in the Istanbul and Jordan reports you’ll see a “Transportation” category where those costs are included. I broke out the $3,231 US$ differently because those were major costs that would be different for each person depending on where they were coming from, and not fair to dramatically bump up the cost for that location in our report, since we try to make it the cost of living in that location, along with minor transportation items. I hope that makes sense.
I noticed that your health insurance expense is quite reasonable… what does it cover?
Hi Tamara. It depends on the timeframe you’re looking at. For 2 months after we leave Alberta (we left at the end of July this year and last) we have travel insurance thanks to Whitney’s insurance coverage for being on her family business board of directors, so no charges. After that we get coverage, which for last year was Safety Wing with $250k coverage. This year we’re going with IMG’s Patriot International Lite package with $1M coverage at the highest deductible they offer of $2,500. It covers a long list of standard stuff, including repatriation to get home in the case it’s needed for long term care, and works out to be about $167 US$ per month for both of us which covers us anywhere except the US.
Your plan is great if you are under 65, if not their max coverage is 100,000 Another reason to travel sooner rather than later 😉 Enjoy your travels, we are having fun following along.