Whether you are living abroad for a year, a month, 2 years or 7 years, it is important to create a home wherever you are. Living abroad makes you think about purchases for your home and life differently because you know you will eventually be moving. For us, (my hubby-to-be and I) this has been a big factor in most of our purchases and it helps to curb our spending When we shop we have to take into account what we will need the most to get us through the next couple of years. While we realize it is important to make purchases for our home and our life, we also know that these purchases need to be strategic in order to avoid buying too much.

When you move into your apartment there can be a tendency to avoid taking the time and money to settle into your surroundings. “I’ll be leaving next year, do I really need a (insert item here)?” The hesitancy to purchase things for your home and life can leave you feeling a little unsettled and like you’re living in a hotel. No one wants to feel this way in the long term!

You need to make a temporary home and take into account what you really need to make yourself feel comfortable while living abroad. These are what we like to call...strategic purchases!!!! Click To Tweet

So, what do you do to make a comfortable and settled home life while not overspending or over-purchasing?

One of the main priorities should be to create a space and lifestyle to support you while you live abroad. This can actually be done easily and conveniently. You are essentially looking at what you can do to create a temporary home which is important to make you feel more comfortable wherever you are.

This can be done easily by taking some time to decorate your living space and buying some key items that help you feel comfortable and create a feeling or connection to home (whatever that may be for you). By figuring out what you will need (the essentials) for your time abroad you can bring your “home” anywhere! This way of living has saved me on days when I feel homesick or have had a really tough day. I can come home to my little part of the world to unwind and shut the world out.

  This is me having a “coffee” (there is definitely wine in there) and shutting the world out.

Relaxing at home with a cup of coffee blog post picture

Settling into the day-to-day life abroad

Choosing to live abroad is a life-changing experience. You are moving to another country with a new culture, making new friends, creating a new community and living a very different life far away from the comforts of home. As you start to settle into your life abroad and your day-to-day living, you may start to miss the people and comforts of home (for me it is usually around the 3-month mark). This is why it is important to start creating your international life and crafting it to make you happy and comfortable.

It can be a little more challenging finding the comforts of home living abroad, but there are things you can do to help this process along. You may not be able to buy your favourite hot chocolate brand or tea in the local shops. This is when you look to the online gods for help! With the ever-growing trend of internet shopping, it is easier to get what you need. I’m going to share what I have done over the years to make my day-to-day life a little more comfortable while living in Korea, to help with homesickness and to create a feeling of home.

Living minimally

I have found that because I have moved so much I try to only purchase things that are important to me and also to find ways to keep clutter and material things to a minimum. This has been a process! I am currently trying to create a capsule wardrobe keep only household items that I need and use on a daily or weekly basis, and hone my packing skills to pack only what I need when I travel (don’t you worry the blogs are coming!)

So with that in mind, I wanted to share with you what I do to create a little home comfort while living abroad. Hopefully, these ideas can help you in creating your own little piece of home wherever you are living right now.

Dollar store shopping!

The Dollar Store! I know most countries have their own version of the dollar store. In Korea, it is Daiso. You can go here to get really cheaply priced household items that can see you through your time here. When you’re done you can donate them to another newly arrived expat, or leave them in the apartment for the next lucky tenant!

Hanging Pictures or creating a picture collage

You can bring pictures anywhere! They are easy to pack and take up such little space! Print some pictures and hang them on your wall using a string and some clothes hanging pins or create a collage.

DIY Home decorating and organization

Ahem….okay I’m going to be honest with you, I am not a decorator or organizer at heart so I feel a little nervous talking about this or giving any sort of advice on DIY things in general. The hanging picture idea was even a bit of a stretch for me! But, in my attempts to get settled into my apartment in Korea and not make it feel like just a “temporary space” I have come to appreciate and search out cheap and easy DIY ideas to help me organize and decorate my home without spending a lot of money. I would definitely recommend you look into easy DIY ideas you can use. Although I am not Martha Stewart and can’t actually give you ideas myself, I can tell you to look on my Pinterest page. I am always looking for and pinning new ideas that I find helpful and easy.

** For more ideas on picture hanging, collages, and DIY decorating and home organization check out my Pinterest page here: DIY Pinterest Board **

Buying and selling used items online

Most expat communities have an online Facebook group for selling used goods. You can always post in that community for items you need or be on the lookout for items you need on sale. In Korea, there are a lot of great expat websites that can connect you with the local community for used goods. ULSAN Used Goods, SEOUL, Busan. Make sure to also join groups in surrounding cities that are close to you (especially if you’re in a smaller city or town).

Order items online

In Korea, I really like to have some nice herbal teas and essential oils and a few other items that I can’t find in the local supermarkets. I order these items online from www.iherb.com (enter promo code ZDT363 to get 5% off your next purchase new or returning member!) The reason I like iherb is that they have a lot of organic and health food products at a reasonable price and it is all in English. I usually purchase vitamins, condiments such as peanut butter or honey, essential oils, herbal teas and cereal bars but there are many more options. Take a look at my shopping cart to see what I have ordered if anything on the list interests you! 

Some additional websites for ordering online in Korea that foreigner friendly includes:

GMarket (English)  – I usually use this website for ordering furniture or household products because it is cheaper than buying in the local supermarkets

Interpark (Select English from the menu on the far right)

Side note: GMarket also has an app you can download on your phone. 

The freedom and convenience of switching to an E-reader!

One of the many things that always brings me comfort is reading. It always makes me feel at “home” and relaxes me. Living abroad and traveling a lot I finally gave in and bought an e-reader (kindle fire). I love reading paper books don’t get me wrong! But, with all the traveling that I do having an e-reader is just so much more convenient. I can have a big library of books on a small device and order any books I want through Amazon cheaply and easily, downloaded in seconds! This has saved my life and a lot of space in my apartment. I would definitely recommend an e-reader to people who travel a lot or to just save space!

Take a look at the selections they have here Everything Kindle. Every book at your fingertips! Seriously it is a book lovers dream!

A final note before you get started…

The list I have made relates to what I like to do to make my life more comfortable while living abroad. This list has come from my past experiences of living abroad and also from years of traveling and packing my life up. I have taken my time to really think about what is important to me and I make purchases and do research accordingly.

I would recommend that before you start to decorate and organize your apartment and buy items, to really take some time to think about what is important to you and what makes you feel comfortable. Make a list and go from there. This will help you to minimize your purchases and prevent overspending and buying things you don’t need. The last thing you want to do is have a ton of stuff that you eventually have to get rid of and have never really used. What a waste of time and energy! Get only the necessities to  start and then buy any additional items as you need

For more ideas about DIY projects and minimal living check out my Pinterest Page! Also please share if you think this article would be helpful for others living abroad. Expat suport!

How to Make a Home While Living Abroad

How to Make a Home While Living Abroad

Let me know what you’ve done to make your life living abroad more comfortable!!

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. For more information about this go to my Disclosure Policy 

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Author

Welcome to the Unconventional Life Blog! I'm Eliza a professional English Langauge teacher living an international life. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching English, working and living abroad.

2 Comments

  1. Eliza this post speaks to me! I feel that as a renter, until I find the perfect home I don’t want to invest at the same time, really want to be comfortable. I have gotten a lot better at buying and selling used items online. I love my kindle but love reading a physical book; I have been making excellent use of my library card. So many helpful tips in this post!

    • Hi Michelle! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! I think it is important to still have the comforts of home while living abroad. I totally agree! I love physical books but unfortunately they take up a lot of space and take a while to ship. The e-reader has just been so much more comfortable and accessible for me on my travels.