Quite often, people back home tell me they couldn't do what I've done, that the change would be too much for them to handle. I've deleted the link, but I found a post on another expat blog describing what that expat does differently, now that she's moved countries. Here are a few things that have changed for me.
1. I drive a cosmetically challenged, '93 Toyota Camry wagon. Since buying it for $1500 a little over a year ago, I've replaced tires, the battery, starter motor, and various other inexpensive bits and bobs. It runs fine, but it's definitely my first 'bomb'. In '93, when I was 17, my first car was my mom's old '87 Camry wagon with all the bells and whistles - electronic readout on the dash, seatbelts that put themselves into place when you shut the door and turned on the car, sun roof, and power windows (none of which I have on my current car). When my mom bought a new Saturn in '97, I talked her into giving it to me (I was a VERY spoiled 'child').
2. I never had any savings to speak of when I lived in the US, and I always bought what I wanted when I wanted it. Now, I put a 1/3 of each paycheck into savings as soon as I get it. I split that savings into 5 equal amounts, for specific things I'm saving for (for example, flights home, a container to ship my US furniture and belongings to Oz eventually, a car fund so I can replace my 'bomb' with something a bit nicer...) If I was still living in the US, I wouldn't need to save for these things. Another 1/3 of my paycheck goes directly to mortgage and house repairs, and I pinch my pennies to live off the remaining 1/3 until the next payday. I have no debt, don't have a credit card to my name in Oz, and don't buy anything until I have the money for it. There are few luxuries, and I don't feel the need for them to be honest. I buy clothes when I go home for visits since it's cheaper, and occasionally treat myself to a pedicure and meals out with friends.
3. I do at least 2 different grocery shops each time I go. For general groceries, and sometime meat, I go to the supermarket, although quite often we make a separate trip to the butcher for meat. For veggies, I either go to the veg shop in the mall, or more likely, to Central Market. Veg is much cheaper, and heaps fresher, there.
More to come as I think of them. In the meantime, to those of you who say you couldn't do this, I say you don't know until you've tried.