Travelling Through Europe Permanently Is Cheaper Than the 9-5 Life

Europe Budget Travel
by The Plaid Zebra Sep 28, 2015

We’ve seen time and time again how to work abroad and produce an income. There’s teaching abroad and seasonal jobs. There’s freelancing and practically any other profession that can be chiefly done online.

However, there are probably still many skeptics out there when it comes to the expenses of travelling. Well, let this stand as proof that if you play your cards right travelling for a living is actually cheaper than living the traditional 9-5 lifestyle.

Now, before you pack your bags, let me break it down for you in terms of rent, food, transportation and your monthly bills. All of these numbers are based on reliable sources online, along with my own life.


Rent in Toronto is no joke, and every month when I sign that cheque, a piece of me dies along with it.

According to a renting guide for Toronto tenants, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is approximately $1,250, and $1,500 for a condo. Based on those standards, I’m sitting pretty with a rent of $1,950 for a three-bedroom apartment just outside of the downtown core.

So that’s $650 a month for a Toronto student.

Cities such as New York City and London are even worse, averaging just over $3,000 a month in the Big Apple, and roughly $2,300 in London.

Travelling, on the other hand, could actually be rent-free. There are hostels around the world not only offering free accommodation in return for work, but they also award an allowance to employees. Take Central London Hostel, for example. You can work 36 hours a week in exchange for free accommodation and approximately $185 a month. The work is spread over three days, leaving you with plenty of time to grab extra cash working odd jobs or freelancing.

Not to mention, there’s free accommodation opportunities by volunteering through WWOOF or HelpX.

For those of you not looking to work in a hostel, you can stay in a hostel for about $25 a night practically anywhere, which would cost an average of $750 per month. So, it’s slightly more expensive than my student rent, but still considerably lower than the average renter. Also, I’d probably just take the Central London Hostel gig.


I’m not even sure that I want to know how much I spend on food a month, but for the sake of honesty, I’ve projected my eating habits to cost me roughly $400 a month. That’s pretty generous considering that includes groceries, eating out and alcoholic beverages.

Determining the cost of food while traveling is sort of impossible considering everyone’s eating habits are completely different. So, let’s say that food will relatively stay the same.

Before you get all excited at the fact that you usually eat out more often while traveling, let me remind you that that is a personal decision. Many hostels offer a kitchen to cook your own meals, and if you’re lucky you can even score breakfast for free.

If you’re staying at a homestay or volunteering, the same rules still generally apply.


A month’s long metro pass with the student discount runs me about $112, which is terrible.

New York fares relatively the same with approximately $116 for a 30-day pass, while London’s system is absolutely ridiculous – a month long pass can run anywhere from $140 to $580.

I know what you’re thinking; this will be the section that stumps me. Flights to Europe are so expensive that definitely has to be more than regular transportation. That is where you are wrong.

As long as you’re flexible with your dates and destinations, flights to Europe can cost less than $200.

Now, less than $300 is still more expensive than Toronto and New York and sometimes London. However, once you get to where you’re going, you can stay in a centrally located hostel that will allow you to walk generally anywhere you need to go. If you want to take public transit say once a week to travel outside your realm that would still fall below the $40 mark.

How do you move from city to city you ask?

If we narrow it down to Europe, there are flights that go all around Europe for less than $20 through Ryan Air. Seriously, this site will make you believe that $50 is pricey for a plane ticket.

If you take a one-way ticket to Europe, travel on public transit once a week, fly to a different destination once a month at $20 per plane ticket, and buy a plane ticket home, we’re looking at an average of $94 per month.

Additional bills

Even if you can’t manage to find all of the cheapest possible transit options, the elimination of your additional bills will far outweigh any unplanned travel expenses.

With utilities, phone bill, heat and hydro, I’m spending approximately $250 a month on my bills. Those are bills that I would never even see if I travelled permanently.

No one pays utilities, heat or hydro in a hostel and it’s generally unheard of at homestays or volunteer experiences.

As for my cell-phone, it would be an unnecessary nuisance. I’d ditch the phone and rely on my tablet and my hostel/local WiFi for my Internet needs.

Grand total

Toronto, based on my student rent = $1412

Toronto, based on average rent = $2012

Traveling through Europe, working for accommodation = $494

Traveling through Europe, staying in hostels = $1,244

There you have it. Full on proof that if you’re willing to do a little research and become flexible with your travel plans, travelling for a living is completely possible.

Some of you might be excited and have already planned for your departure, while others of you are still doubtful.

Don’t let the fear of change leave your future drained of any ambition or passion. I can crunch the numbers until the cows come home, but at the end of the day the will to travel lies within you. If you have the passion for adventure, you’ll find a way.

This article originally appeared on The Plaid Zebra and is republished here with permission.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.