Relocating to a different country doesn’t dismiss one’s debt, of course. But you might be surprised at how cost-efficient it is to move to a different country, take advantage of a lower cost of living, and then return to the U.S. later on.
The plan would work even better if you could start making money while you’re staying in said country – like Central America, which is a popular destination right now – and start taking a chunk out of your balance.
In this article, we’re going to talk about ways to pay your student loans while in another country and how relocation might help you.
1. Find a Cheap but Cool Place to Live
For starters, it’s best to research each city individually to see what the standard cost of living might be. Some cities like Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras are known to be budget-friendly to backpackers and travelers.
Living amongst the locals, you will learn ways to save. For example, you could ride a “chicken bus” as a cheap method of transportation, and a budget-friendly alternative to plane travel or taxi.
While most cities do take U.S. currency, it might be smarter to actually use the local currency. First, if locals think you’re a tourist they will naturally ask for more money. Second, many U.S. travelers will tell you that they lose money on exchange rates.
Check out our article on the safety of El Salvador and how it’s no longer as dangerous as you’ve heard.
2. Make a Deal for Living Quarters
One of the best ways to free up income is to stop paying apartment or house rent and instead find a dorm room, or a hostel for a fraction of the price. Some students even get a job at a hostel and make a deal with the owner to exchange easy labor for a room.
Some students have lived with local Central American families, either exchanging work or services for lodging, or paying a lower amount for just a single room. You might be surprised to learn that some cheap hostels offer hammocks instead of beds. Why? Super cheap rent, that’s why.
3. Start Blogging/Vlogging for a Purpose
Blogging and making videos for social media is a great way to make money in and of itself. But even if you don’t make a lot of money at first, you can use the content as a portfolio for becoming a travel consultant.
Take the initial months living in Central America to familiarize yourself with the culture, the people, the language , and the best tourist destinations. Now, you can make extra money as a cheap travel consultant for students or vacationers visiting the area.
For example, here’s an article we published about the best stuff to see in Guatemala! Do you think you could be a good tour guide?
4. Refinance Your Student Loan
If your main problem is that your student loan payments are taking a chunk out of your income, leaving you with hardly any time or money, then maybe it’s time for a “reset”.
No, you can’t escape debt by moving to Central America, but you can refinance your student loan payments and get better interest rates, a more convenient repayment plan, and other perks.
For example, SoFi offers zero percent interest and zero payments for a couple of months and then charges a reasonable rate on fixed or variable interest APR.
5. Find Online Work
If you can find remote work in the U.S. (or another English-speaking country), then you can benefit from a higher standard of income, but continue to live daily paying lower-than-average prices.
For example, you could apply for a number of telecommuting jobs while working from a hostel co-working space, or even a public library. As long as you have a laptop, you could find part-time work as a bookkeeper, administrative assistant, writer, blogger, vlogger, graphic designer, researcher, sales representative, website designer, or translator.
On that subject…
6. Teach English
You can use your limited knowledge of Spanish, along with your fluent knowledge of English, and start teaching locals and other travelers how to read, write, and speak in English. English Second Language teachers get paid in the local currency, and can sometimes earn $150-$400 a month.
Embrace Central American culture and you will find great deals all around you. You may be able to pay off your student loans before you know it!