Living abroad, one of the things you have to get used to is the currency. In most cases it will be different than what you’re used to and exchange rates are constantly changing so sending money home and vice versa can be a learning experience.
When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I exchanged every penny in my head. If I spent HKD100 I knew I’d spent around GBP7.90. After a few days one of my colleagues told me I had to stop and get used to the Hong Kong dollar which was actually very good advice. With prices being different, products being more varied than I was used to back home and adding in new expenses like the underground train system, it just made more sense to get used to the new currency. After two years in Hong Kong, I naturally began to look at life in the Hong Kong dollar and even now in Japan, I can’t help but think about expenses in terms of the multi-coloured dollars I spent so long with.
With the inflation of currencies in Asia, the first thing living abroad will teach you is how to handle mountains of small change, HANDFULS of it rivalling the gold horde protected by Smaug (Nerd Alert!) And the twist? Many shops and restaurants refuse to accept anything below the $1 coin in Hong Kong. Naturally, this causes some frustration as you are left with money you can’t spend. I got to a point where every coin I had went into a shoe box or a basket or a tin and over the a six month period I threw the change into a container and out of my memory. Between moving to Japan and attempting to scrounge for every penny,I packed my change and took it to the bank. It proved far more lucrative than I could have imagined, with the bags of change amounting to HKD1104. This is about GBP116 or USD142.
To put that into perspective for expats, that’s a fanfare return flight to Bangkok OR a visa and train ride to Mainland China OR two-three months worth of bills in a studio OR two weeks worth of food shopping at your local Wellcome. That’s a ridiculous amount of change!
Dig through those sofa cushions and get yourself some extra savings!
NOTE: With the UK voting to leave the EU, the currency calculators are changing daily, the exchange rates in this post are likely to change.