Long distance relationships are, for most people, a bit of a rollercoaster. They say that attraction + an obstacle = passion, which is why the ups and downs are so high. It’s not just the many nights spent alone and away from someone, relying on technology to communicate, though it’s also very expensive.
Long distance relationships are usually in a weird state between temporary and permanent. For example, having to go away on work for 3 months isn’t permanent enough to be considered a long-distance relationship, as it’s only going to happen once. Instead, it’s usually when one party lives permanently, or at least for most of the year, far away from the other. But again, it’s not completely permanent for most, because usually you hope to live together one day.
This makes things difficult financially, because you’re looking at a complete monetary lifestyle change. Let’s take a look at some of its qualities that make it expensive, before looking at how to save money.
It may depend on your definition of long distance, but generally you’re looking at long car journeys, trains, taxis and/or planes to visit each other. There’s something perverse about the relationship between seeing each other and cost; as the more you meet up, the more you have to save and pay. This is totally worth it of course, if they can afford it, but we all know that emotion can get in the way of rationality at times. Whilst it greatly depends, you could be looking at anywhere between $500 and $5,000+ per year on transport.
Not sharing living costs
Having to live in two apartments between the two of you is of course the biggest cost of all. Instead of half the rent, you’re looking at an extra $400 to $1,500 per month on rent, depending on where you’re living. Similar to splitting the cost of an apartment, there’s hundreds of other reasons why pooling money together is cheaper overall. Most notably, utility costs, sharing possessions, grocery shopping and gas.
This one may be negligible for some, but traditionally phoning and communicating abroad is highly expensive. In this day and age we can use WiFi, but if you’re unlucky geographically, you may find yourself needing to pay a premium for a stable enough internet to Facetime with no issues.
Another expense is that if your partner lives abroad, visiting them means exchanging into their currency when visiting, or if you’re helping them out. Typically, this induces a 3% to 5% exchange margin that’s lost in thin air, as well as a fixed cost. If you’re visiting regularly, you may not notice this cost but it will add up fast — maybe even $50 per trip.
How to save money in a long distance relationship
So, let’s take a break from the depressing financial outlook on long distance relationships and instead look at how to save money. Before doing so though, it’s also worth noting the money you will save too by not spending as much time together, though this a very minor silver living.
First and foremost, a quick and guaranteed way to save money with currency exchanges is to use a Money Transfer Company. For example, money transfer USA – Australia is instantly 3% to 5% cheaper when using a MTC, meaning you’ll get closer to the real exchange rate. This is a great one because it takes next to no effort, unlike the next…
This may not be for everyone, but if you can’t live with your partner, it may be worth living with friends, co-workers or even strangers (soon to be friends, hopefully). This is the biggest money saver of them all of course, but it does come at an evident non-financial cost of having to live with people you may not be close to.
This could quickly turn into pooling resources for utility bills, food shopping and transport. Again, you might find this to be the cause of arguments, but it doesn’t mean it can’t work.
It might not be the most romantic gesture to plan your meetups around cheaper transport times, but who’s to say frugality isn’t attractive. Of course, we all know that flying at Christmas and during school holidays are the most expensive times of the year, and may not fit in with our schedule, but we can still apply the same logic on a smaller scale. It’s said that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days of the week to fly on, and you should try and avoid Friday and Saturday if possible. Likewise, trains should be at off-peak hours where possible, and online carpooling apps can save a bunch compared to expensive trains.
Long distance relationships may be difficult in a number of ways, but they also pose some opportunities too. You really appreciate the time spent together, and it doesn’t have to be as expensive as first thought.