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Studying abroad is expensive, especially if you want to bring your family with you. But do you know you can easily save money studying abroad in Europe? I will show you how,  stay tuned!!!

Even though studying abroad will bring you plenty of advantages, especially for your future career, not many people are fortunate enough to have that experience since it’s not cheap.

If you are an adult student and student parent who wish to bring your family with you, the costs will be a lot higher since you have to cover living expenses abroad for more than just one person.

But there are plenty of ways to save money when studying abroad with your family in European countries, so keep reading…

9 Proven Ways to Save Money When Studying Abroad in Europe with Your Family

As an adult student and a non-traditional student mom and dad, being able to study abroad and bring your family (spouse and children) will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a life-changing experience for you and your family,

But studying abroad is not cheap, especially since you will have to arrange your budget for more than just one person.

That’s why it’s important to have a good budgeting plan, therefore, you could calculate your living expenses estimation and prepare yourself financially, even before you and your family arrive at your study abroad destination.

As an adult and a parent, you may have the skills of money-saving and financial responsibility, honed by years of experience making budget plans for your family.

But nothing will test your budgeting skills like studying abroad and bringing your family with you. In this post, I will share my budgeting experience during my study abroad and bring my husband and daughter with me.

Since I studied in Italy, these tips and tricks may not entirely apply to other places such as Asian countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, and so on. But for other European countries, I’m pretty sure it will suffice and be applicable.

With these tricks, I managed to budget our living expenses as a family of three for as little as one thousand euros per month.

I came here to study in late 2014, and still live here in Milan (the most expensive city in Italy, and one of the most expensive cities in Europe) up until I wrote this article. I can tell you that my expenses haven’t changed much since then.

These are the breakdown of our monthly expenses as a family of three: 750€ Rent, Utilities (water and gas) on average we spend 100€, Phone and Internet Package (for three people): 30€, public transportation: 20€, groceries: 100€. Total: 1000 €

Surely, we spend more than that. For example, each month, we allocate a certain amount of money for traveling once or twice a year, and we had picnics or eat out on the weekends.

But these kinds of expenses are subjective. You could spend your money on something entirely different than mine. So, I didn’t really see the point of detailing the numbers on those types of expenses.

The point is, my family of three can live well without being frugal in an expensive city like Milan, Italy, with just 1000€ to spend as living expenses that cover our basic necessities.

If you are wondering how I managed my living expenses, here are my budgeting tips as an adult student mom studying abroad in Europe:

1. Save Money on Rent

Paying your monthly rent will be your biggest expense. If you are an adult student/ student mom and dad, studying abroad, and wish to bring your family with you, sharing an apartment with a roommate is not an option.

You and your family will need privacy, especially if your child(ren) is still very young. Also, I highly doubt anyone wants to share a space with a family.

Most likely, you’ll also need a bigger place, and obviously, the bigger the place the more expensive the rent will be.

If you want to save some money on rent while still having adequate space for your family, you might have to live in the suburban area, on the outskirt of the city, where your budget for rent can go further compared to what you could get in the city with the same amount of money.

As a consequence, you might need to travel further to reach your campus in the city. But it won’t be a problem since public transportation in European cities, including Milan is excellent.

There are plenty of options available such as bus, train, metro, tram et cetera, and they arrive every 3 minutes or so, so don’t rule out this option if you are serious about wanting to save money while studying abroad and bringing your family with you.

2. Drink the Tap Water

Back home in Indonesia, tap water is not safe to drink, so I always bought mineral water. Here in Italy, like many other European countries and plenty of other countries, tap water is drinkable.

It might be silly, but I still find it weird. Even though I know it was safe to drink, I still couldn’t get used to it, having spent more than 30 years thinking I couldn’t drink tap water.

But I can’t afford to keep buying mineral water either, plus, seeing all those plastic bottles really broke my heart (yeah I know, it will be recycled, they said so on the label, but still…).

So, I bought the water filter jug. I just need to buy the filters to be renewed once the last indicator bar is blinking. It eases my worry about drinking tap water and most importantly, saving money every month from buying mineral water.

3. Buy Fruits and Vegetables in the Market

It goes without saying, that your living expenses on food will be a lot cheaper if you cook, instead of eating out or buying takeouts.

But when you study abroad, especially as an adult and a parent who brings your family with you, cooking your meals are not enough to save money. You need to save money on the ingredients too.

European cities normally have fresh markets in the open air, selling the freshest fruits, and vegetables, as well as a wide variation of meat, seafood,  cheese, and other stuff.

In Milan, the fresh produce sold in the market is significantly cheaper than buying in the supermarket. So, the trick is, when it comes to shopping for food, in the supermarket I only bought dry foods such as pasta, cereal, snacks et cetera (mostly the discounted ones), and buy fresh food such as fruits and veggies at the market.

Moreover, I usually waited until they are about to close. Usually, an hour or so before the market close, they lowered the price, or give extra bonuses to your purchase, because for most of the items, everything must go anyway and will go bad soon.

In the end, not only do I buy them at a cheaper price than at the supermarket, but I also save more by buying them at discount or getting more products at the same price.

4. Shower Less

This might sound silly, but my family managed to save money by showering less. Perhaps it’s something that comes naturally to you but it’s an adjustment for me since I came from a tropical country where the climate is always hot and humid.

We used to shower two times a day since we were always sweating. Here, not so much. So now I made an adjustment to just showering once a day, every night before I go to bed.

As much as I love the cold showers, I couldn’t do it here in the winter, obviously. As a result, the bills will shoot up for the winter months. Our solution, again, is less showering.

So, I mentioned earlier that we spend around 100€ per month on utilities, well which comes from less showering. When we haven’t cut back our indulgence in enjoying nice hot baths, our bills could go up nearly double, around 180€ per month.

If you are serious about saving money, cut your utility expenses, it will make a lot of difference.

5. Use Portable Heater and Portable Fan

This point is still related to point no.4 above, as we are still talking about utilities. In Italy, we use gas for cooking, producing hot water and heater.

If you want to reduce your gas bills, you’ll need to also reduce the use of the heater, which could be difficult to do since you’ll need them to keep warm and it will be dangerous anyway if you are not warm enough in the winter.

For us, the solution is a portable heater. This might be not applicable if you live in a place with harsh winter, but lucky for us, Milan winter is still bearable.

So, most of the time during winter, we didn’t turn on our heater and used the portable one instead. We have one for us and one for our daughter to use in our rooms.

When it’s not bedtime yet, we just put them in the kitchen or living room to warm us up while we were eating or watching movies. We turn on the heater only when it’s super cold.

The same thing goes for the fan to be used in the summer. We also have the portable one so that we don’t need to turn on the air-con.

We put them facing upward or in any direction other than our body. This way, we don’t get a direct hit of the wind but still, get the fresh blow of air in the room.

However, lately, the summer heat becomes unbearable, so we also bought a portable air con. It is small, affordable, and totally help reduce the summer heat as well as our electricity bills.

9 Proven Ways to Save Money When Studying Abroad in Europe with Your Family

6. Use Public Transport and Walk Everywhere.

We don’t have a car here, because we don’t need one. Public transport is comfortable, reliable, accessible, and most importantly, affordable.

In Milan, an all-access pass will cost you 35€ per month. With this card, you could use all types of public transportation such as buses, trams, and the metro (subway).

They also have single journey tickets, a one-day pass, and a pack of 10 single journeys. Other alternatives are bike-sharing and car-sharing modes of transportation if you are more interested in a private mode of transportation.

Lately, scooter sharing has also become a trend, offering a cool and easy way to move around the city. If you notice, I mentioned above that my budget for public transportation is only about 20€ per month.

That’s because we choose to walk around if the destination is still within walking distance, and use the bicycle to go to further places and to go to work every day.

The price of the annual bike-sharing subscription is 36€ per year, which means we only pay 3€ per month per person (6€ per month for both of us).

We spent the rest of the budget (around 14€) buying single tickets on the weekends when we want to go somewhere with our daughter, but not very often since we usually spend our weekends biking around together and having picnics.

In other European countries, the public transportation cost might be higher or cheaper, and the types of transportation might vary, but walking and biking everywhere is one simple way to cut your public transportation budget when studying abroad in Europe.

7. Shop in Vintage Market and During Discount Month

We almost never buy anything at full price. We always wait for the discount months (in Italy, it’s in January and July, when the sale can go up to 80%), and buy from the vintage market.

I personally love the vintage market. You could get pretty much anything such as paintings, antics, trinkets, and -since they are vintage markets in Milan – secondhand designer clothing and accessories.

The goods are still pretty much in mint condition, some even look like they’ve only been used once or twice, and you could have them for an affordable price.

So affordable that at first, I had doubts about their authenticity. Finally, one time, I had the courage to ask, and the seller looked at me as if she was saying “ girl please, we are in Milan” 😉

You need to take advantage of that. The vintage market selling second-hand goods is everywhere in European countries. You’ll be surprised by the high-quality items you could get at a low price and the amount of money you could save by doing it.

8. Make use of Your Student Discounts

As an international student, you’ll get plenty of perks such as discounts at museums, cinemas, public transportation monthly subscriptions, restaurants, bookstores, and so on, thanks to the special card for foreign students.

If you study in European big cities, most likely they will give you this type of card. Maximize them. Whenever you plan to do or buy something, check if you could get discounts from your card to save money.

Supermarkets also offer their own loyalty card, which allowed us to get discounts on special items, which might vary every month.

Other than getting discounts, this card usually also enables you to collect points that you could redeem with shopping vouchers or gifts. Thus, don’t forget to get one to save money on your grocery shopping.

Budget Tracker

Use this budget tracker template to track your expenses during your Back-to-School preparation period. All the things you might need to prepare financially for attending a University, an online college/course, even for a study abroad, are listed here. This template consists of 11 different worksheets, each sheet represents a different phase of your Back to School Journey preparation.

9. Send your Child(ren) to Public Schools

If you are an adult student who came to study and bring your family with you, you will need to consider the cost of your child(ren)’s education.

In Italy, state schools are free even for foreigners living in Italy who are not permanent residents yet.

We send our daughter to public school because we want her to be fully immersed in the culture and be fluent in the Italian language (since public schools are all in Italian), and to be honest, to save money.

In Milan, a private school could cost between 300-1000€ per month, while an international school could start from 1000-3000€ per month. In many European countries, compulsory education level is usually free, but further research is required regarding the matter.

It’s imperative that you do some extensive research about the education system and the school curriculum, as well as the prices you’ll have to pay for your child(ren) education in your study destination before you start your study abroad as an adult student and student parent,

From there, the choice is yours. Whether you want to save money by sending your child to public schools or send them to private or even an international school and pay more.

Over to You…

It might be quite challenging to plan a budget before you even arrive at your destination,  but it’s a useful step in estimating your expenses and controlling your finances while you’re abroad.

To give you an idea of what kind of expenses you’ll need to cover as an international student, I put together a worksheet to help you out.

You could estimate the type of expenses you’ll have to cover, as well as use them as your monthly budget tracker to track your expenses every month once you are there.

If you’re not sure how much you’re going to spend while you’re studying in a particular city, you can use Numbeo. After you pick the city, you can see the average price for a number of expenses.

Then you can start saving money by cooking and buying fruit and veggies in the market, drinking tap water, finding cheap rent, showering less, using a portable heater, portable air conditioner, and fan, using public transportation and walking everywhere, shopping in vintage market and during discount months, as well as make use of your student discounts, and by sending your child to public school.

Those trick helps me and my family a lot when it comes to saving money, and I hope it will be useful for you too… so, please pin them and share them on social media.

Do you have some saving tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, perhaps I could also use the tricks to save more money

Thanks so much, and till next time!!!

9 Proven Ways to Save Money When Studying Abroad in Europe with Your Family