Scared of Exchange Rates?
No, don’t let exchange rates scare you. Consider them, but look at the big picture too. When we first started our retirement with plans for long term travel, everything looked pretty good with the world’s economy. Remember, this was the beginning of 2015; all stock markets were still heading up but unfortunately the Canadian dollar had already begun to fall from a high of about $0.95 compared to the US from the year before. The first year we kept a close eye on all of our expenses as it continued down to $0.70. Most retirement sources recommended doing this especially for new retirees. The continued falling of our dollar brought a lot of concern from fellow travellers and others wanting to go abroad. Some were cancelling plans based on the added currency exchange rate over the previous years. Who could blame them, a 15-20% increase in most costs was something that couldn’t be overlooked.
When we travel, we are obviously not immune to these fluctuations either. For us, it’s not just Canada vs. the US but also Australia, Great Britain, and the Euro impacting our decisions. We look at it a little differently though. We tend to believe it’s not so much the exchange rate, but the cost of living in the countries you travel to. Sure, the majority of you likely travel to the US and the costs there can be higher on some items when you factor in the exchange. But there are also items that are a real bargain, such as gas and dairy, which can help soften the impact. We have found a lot of the day to day items in the US to be more expensive and that’s before having to add tax and a possible tip. In Australia, GB, and Europe there is no tipping, and any tax is already included in the posted price. There’s no after dinner math involved trying to figure how much more you need to add to your bill. Just last week we had dinner at the Mason Arms here in Camelford. Two proper Sunday roast beef dinners with Yorkshire pudding with all the fixings, a beer, and a pot of tea was about 28 pounds or $48 Cdn.
That is a bargain in our eyes… it’s similar to what we usually pay in Canada. Remember that’s no unseen tax, no tip. When you long term travel like we do you can’t eat in restaurants all the time.
Usual grocery items are reasonable here too like produce and meat, but dairy, like the US, is much cheaper. Since the majority of the time we eat at home, we are able to control costs and often times come in under budget despite the exchange rate. Remember we’re not on vacation everyday although it may seem that way. Generally we have found that outside the US costs are more in line with Canadian prices after the exchange rate has been included.
A good tool to use is a website called www.expatistan.com, where you’re able to compare your city to others to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay. Now it includes a lot of costs that won’t necessarily effect your trip, but you can dig a little to find the costs that would most likely impact you. So maybe it shows that housing costs are higher, but you’re not planning on buying or renting so this shouldn’t impact you. The site also shows a typical grocery shop, dinner out, drinks at the pub, etc. to help you figure out your possible expenses.
Traveling can be a great experience and the costs can ruin it for you if you’re traveling to areas that have high exchange rates. To combat this you may need to research further to see what really is more expensive and if it will truly impact you. You may be surprised to find that you can still afford a fabulous vacation even when your home currency may be struggling.
Linda & Mark