Living as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in a foreign land is a transformative journey, characterized by both opportunities and challenges. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the monthly expenses faced by an OFW living alone in Belgium. Belgium, renowned for its historic cities, delectable cuisine, and a blend of cultures, has become a magnet for Filipinos in search of better prospects.
However, with this exciting adventure comes the need to navigate a distinct cost of living. From the costs of accommodation and daily necessities to exploring leisure activities and managing savings, we will embark on a financial expedition that unravels the unique financial landscape of Filipinos who have chosen Belgium as their overseas home.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
Unveiling the Financial Realities: Monthly Expenses of a Solo OFW in Belgium
The information shared in this video comes from a YouTube video from the channel of OFW vlogger Dolrich Aguillion. In this video, the vlogger talks about what his monthly expenses are as a nurse living alone in Belgium. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:
In this vlog, we’ll dive into the real experiences of a vlogger who has spent almost a decade living alone in Belgium. Life as a solo expatriate comes with unique challenges and rewards. It’s not just about facing loneliness; it’s also about managing expenses like rent, utilities, and subscriptions all by yourself.
This vlogger believes in striking a balance between working hard, earning money, and enjoying the comforts of life. Starting as a caregiver in a home for the aged facility, he later moved to a geriatrics hospital and now works as a nurse in the emergency department. Join us as we explore his journey and gain insights into what it takes to thrive as an OFW living alone in Belgium.
In the coming sections, we’ll take a closer look at the day-to-day life and monthly expenses of our vlogger as he navigates the challenges and triumphs of living independently in a foreign land. Living alone in a foreign country can be daunting, especially when you are far away from the familiar comforts of home. The vlogger’s story sheds light on the resilience and determination it takes to adapt to a new culture and make a life for oneself.
One of the central aspects we’ll explore is the financial side of living abroad. Managing expenses such as rent, utilities, and groceries can be quite a juggling act. The vlogger has learned to budget wisely to ensure that he can enjoy life’s comforts while still being financially responsible.
Expenses in Belgium Living Alone
In Belgium, the vlogger gets his salary every month, and that’s when the bills start piling up. The biggest expense is his apartment. He bought a small place in the city center of Antwerp, and he has to pay back a loan for it. Every month, a big chunk of his salary, about 1050 euros, goes into covering this loan.
This decision to buy an apartment is a sign of his long-term plans. Even though it means parting with a good chunk of his monthly earnings, it gives him a sense of belonging and stability in a foreign country. So, beyond being an expense, it’s an investment in his future, and it’s a significant part of his life as an expat in Belgium.
His monthly expenses also include 120 euros for apartment maintenance. This covers various things like fresh paint for the building, keeping the apartment and common areas clean, and maintaining the garage, among other things. It’s a shared cost for everyone in the six-story building where his apartment is located. The money collected is used for regular upkeep and sometimes for special events or meetings for all the residents in the building. It’s a part of apartment living in Belgium that ensures everything stays in good shape.
- Utilities (water, electricity, and gas): 140 to 170 euros, with higher costs during winter and reduced expenses in summer.
- Primary electricity usage includes a laptop, an external monitor, and a microwave oven. Savings on water usage by occasionally bathing at work or the gym.
- Mobile phone subscription: 20 euros per month for unlimited calls, texts, and 10 GB of mobile data. Accumulated data can be carried over to the next month.
- Internet subscription: 60 euros per month for unlimited internet access, catering to his vlogging needs. These plans are cost-effective and aligned with his requirements, offering flexibility and affordability.
In terms of utilities, the monthly budget covers water, electricity, and gas, ranging from 140 to 170 euros. The cost can be higher in winter due to increased heater usage but decreases during summer when the heater is switched off and appliance usage is minimal. For electricity, his main usage includes a laptop, an external monitor, and a microwave oven. Additionally, he saves on water consumption by sometimes bathing at work or the gym.
For mobile phone and internet services, he pays 60 euros per month for unlimited internet and 20 euros per month for a mobile phone subscription. This subscription plan is one of the more affordable options in Belgium, offering unlimited calls and texts with 10 GB of mobile data. Notably, any unused data from the previous month is carried over to the next month, providing flexibility and allowing him to accumulate data when not fully utilized. Overall, he finds these plans suitable and cost-effective for his needs.
Food and Groceries
- Food and groceries: Approximately 150 euros per month.
- Meal planning and preparation, a key strategy to manage expenses and enjoy home-cooked meals.
- Access to affordable dining options at work, with 2 euros for a three-course meal.
- Occasional 10-minute bike rides to work for savings on commuting and enjoying reasonably priced meals.
Next on the list of expenses is food and groceries, which constitutes a significant portion of his monthly budget, roughly around 150 euros. This allocation allows him to maintain a practical approach to eating well without breaking the bank. One of his cost-effective strategies is meal planning and preparation. He often spends some quality time in the kitchen cooking up a storm, preparing meals that will last him throughout the week. This not only helps him manage his expenses but also ensures he gets to enjoy home-cooked meals regularly.
However, he’s not solely reliant on his culinary skills. One of the perks of working where he does is the accessibility to affordable dining options. For just 2 euros, he can indulge in a complete three-course meal. This deal typically includes a hearty soup to kick off the meal, a satisfying main course, and a sweet dessert to finish on a high note. It’s a pocket-friendly choice that offers both convenience and a tasty variety of meals, making it an attractive option for someone on a budget.
Additionally, to further economize, he occasionally pedals his way to work, opting for a quick 10-minute bike ride. This choice not only saves him on commuting expenses but also means he can take advantage of the reasonably priced meals at work, enhancing his ability to effectively balance his food budget without sacrificing flavor or diversity in his meals.
- Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom subscription: 12 euros
- Instagram and Facebook account verification: 35 euros
- Epidemic Sounds subscription for quality audio and music in videos: 18 euros
- Local gym or fitness center subscription: 20 euros
Another category of monthly expenses to consider are subscriptions. Given his roles as a nurse and a vlogger, subscriptions have become a regular part of his life. For his vlogging endeavors, he relies on software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, which require a monthly payment of 12 euros. Furthermore, maintaining a strong social media presence is essential, which includes having verified accounts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, incurring an expense of 35 euros. These verifications are vital for building trust and credibility among his followers.
As a content creator, he recognizes the importance of quality audio and music in his videos. That’s where Epidemic Sounds comes in, with a monthly fee of 18 euros. This subscription grants him access to a vast library of music, including vlog music, lifestyle tracks, and sound effects, ensuring that his videos not only sound great but also avoid the pitfalls of copyright issues, enhancing the overall quality of his content.
Additionally, health is a priority in his life, so he dedicates 20 euros each month to maintain a subscription at a local gym or fitness center. Staying physically active and emotionally balanced is of utmost importance, and he often fits in workouts either before or after his nursing duties or during his free days, promoting a holistic approach to his well-being.
His car, though not a regular mode of transportation, serves him well for trips outside the city center, especially when visiting his mom. This monthly visit leads to a fuel expense of approximately 60 euros, and that amount easily covers nearly 600 kilometers. While his car may spend most of its time parked, it’s a valuable asset for those occasional journeys that require the convenience and freedom of a personal vehicle.
In the heart of Antwerp’s bustling city center, socializing, hanging out, and enjoying a drink or two is all too tempting. Just a short 3-minute walk lands him in the main shopping district, while a mere 5-minute stroll takes him to the lively streets of Antwerp, teeming with bars and restaurants offering diverse cuisines. Living in such a vibrant area presents endless opportunities for weekly activities and outings. That’s where his monthly budget of 100 to 150 euros comes into play.
Whether it’s a casual get-together with friends, impromptu gatherings, or spontaneous dining out, these outings allow him to unwind and enjoy the fruits of his labor. While the expenses might add up, the experiences and connections he gains make every euro well spent.
Summary of Monthly Expenses
So, these are the expenses that make up his monthly budget, allowing him to live an independent life in Belgium. Here’s a summary of those costs:
- Apartment: 1050 euros
- Maintenance: 120 euros
- Electricity: 140 euros
- Wi-Fi plus mobile: 80 euros
- Food: 150 euros
- Facebook plus Instagram subscription: 35 euros
- Photoshop plus Lightroom: 12 euros
- Epidemic Sounds: 18 euros
- Gym subscription: 20 euros
- Car fuel: 60 euros
- Night out: 150 euros
In total, he manages to make it work, balancing work and expenditures, while also savoring the pleasures of living independently in Belgium.
Living in Belgium comes with its share of responsibilities and expenses, and for our vlogger, these also include yearly insurance payments. He understands the importance of safeguarding various aspects of his life, and these insurances offer him a safety net in times of need.
Yearly insurance costs are a part of his financial planning, ensuring that he’s prepared for the unexpected. Here’s a breakdown of his yearly insurance payments:
- Life Insurance: This essential coverage, costing 350 euros annually, offers him peace of mind, knowing that his loved ones will be taken care of in case of unforeseen events.
- Home Insurance: With yearly payments of 300 euros, his home insurance ensures that his cherished living space is protected from various risks and potential damages.
- Car Insurance: Given that he owns a car, this yearly expense of 600 euros ensures that he is covered against any accidents or damages, providing a layer of financial security.
- Freelance Nurse Insurance: As a freelance nurse, having the right insurance is crucial. He allocates 120 euros annually to secure this coverage, which safeguards his career.
While these yearly insurance payments add to his financial responsibilities, they serve as essential safeguards in his life, allowing him to enjoy the independence and peace of mind that comes with proper coverage.
Savings and Emergency Funds
The Importance of Savings:
- Financial Security: Saving a portion of your monthly income is a crucial practice that provides financial security and flexibility. This practice ensures you’re better equipped to handle unexpected expenses or emergencies, such as medical bills, home repairs, or urgent family travel.
- Long-Term Goals: Setting aside a portion of your income each month helps you work toward long-term financial goals, such as property acquisition, investments, or securing your retirement.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing you have savings as a safety net can provide peace of mind and reduce anxiety about financial instability, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life.
- Set a Target: Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund. This cushion can cover essential costs during unforeseen financial crises.
- Dedicated Account: Maintain a separate account exclusively for your emergency fund to avoid mingling it with your regular savings.
- Regular Contributions: Allocate a fixed portion of your monthly income to your emergency fund to ensure steady growth over time.
- Use It Only for Emergencies: Reserve your emergency fund for genuine emergencies, such as urgent medical bills, critical repairs, or unforeseen travel.
- Replenish It: If you need to use your emergency fund, make it a priority to replenish it as soon as possible to remain prepared for future unexpected events.
Budgeting for Savings:
- Create a Budget: Develop a comprehensive budget that outlines your monthly income and expenses, including savings contributions. This budget will help you determine how much you can realistically save each month.
- Automate Savings: Consider setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings and emergency fund accounts each month.
- Regularly Reevaluate: Periodically review your budget and make adjustments as needed to ensure it aligns with your financial goals.
- Utilize Financial Tools: Take advantage of financial apps and tools that help you manage and track your savings and expenses.
Prioritizing savings and establishing an emergency fund empowers OFWs in Belgium to secure their financial future. This practice ensures they are prepared for both expected and unexpected expenses, providing peace of mind and enabling them to work toward their long-term financial goals.
Living alone in a foreign country comes with its fair share of challenges and expenses. The vlogger acknowledges the difficulties that come with this lifestyle but maintains a positive and grateful outlook. Having a place to call his own in Belgium is a source of pride, offering him a sense of independence and comfort. To manage the expenses and save for the future, the vlogger takes an optimistic approach. On his free days, he seizes opportunities to pick up extra nursing shifts, whether it’s at the hospital or other healthcare institutions. These additional work hours not only supplement his income but also serve as a valuable source of funds for travel and unexpected financial needs. This proactive work ethic exemplifies his dedication to financial stability and enjoying life to the fullest.