The Cost of Settling Back Into Domestic Life in Florida

We knew that settling back into life in the States was going to cost us more money. However, we hadn’t really calculated how much. And then when we spontaneously bought a house, those costs went up even more. Sometimes when we look at our bank accounts and realize how much money is going out, we want to turn around and head straight back to Thailand where we could live quite comfortably for $1,000/month. However, everything is a trade off. We were ready to be back home and close to our families for a bit and so its a sacrifice we have to accept. For now at least!

This post is not meant to be an outlet for us to complain about spending money, but merely to show you (or remind you) of the costs involved when you give up expat life.

Health Insurance: $540/month

The first thing we did, even before leaving Thailand in February, was sign up for health insurance. We haven’t had to carry health insurance in over two years. For one, we wouldn’t be penalized for not having it since we were living in Thailand. And secondly, because we didn’t need it. We could get our prescriptions over the counter in Thailand at a fraction of the cost. We could see a doctor if we were sick for less than a copay in the States. Even an MRI in Thailand was more affordable than in the States WITH insurance. But being back in the States meant signing up for health insurance. Just one trip to the hospital without it could completely clean out our savings account. We applied for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Unfortunately, we did not meet requirements to receive ObamaCare so we had to purchase insurance ourselves at full price. For health and dental insurance, we are paying $270 each per month.

Car Insurance: $250/month 

When we first left for Thailand in 2013, we sold both of our vehicles. However, you may recall when we were home in December we broke down and bought a car. It was just so much easier than trying to borrow other peoples’ cars to get around town and work our entire days around someone else’s schedule. Then when we bought a house, we realized we really needed a truck. With all of the work we were doing on the property, hauling equipment and rubbish in a car just wasn’t working. So we added another vehicle. The cheapest insurance we found by far was with State Farm at $250/month for both vehicles.

Home Owners Insurance: $900/year

Home Owners Insurance isn’t mandatory, however, its not worth the risk in our opinion. This was the least expensive option we could find.

Property taxes: $1400/year

Another unavoidable fee for owning a house.

Federal Income Taxes

This one really kills us. We just finished paying taxes for 2015 in which we qualified as expats. Because we were out of the country for 330 days of the year, we were exempt from federal taxes (read more about that here). However, that does not include self employment taxes or capital gains taxes, both of which we were hit with. The amount of money we had to send to Uncle Sam this year really scares us for next year, when we will NOT be exempt from federal taxes. This will forever keep us struggling on whether we stay or leave the US. To have to hand over nearly 50% of your income because you choose to start your own business will never settle well with us.

Miscellaneous

Since we sold everything we owned when we moved to Thailand, we are practically starting all over which means we are collecting “stuff” again. This is something we never thought we’d do, but its kind of hard to avoid falling back into that when you buy a house. One plus to this is that the house we bought was fully furnished. We were able to move right in, however, a lot of the furniture really needs replaced. We are doing this slowly and waiting for sales and checking Craigslist like crazy. I’ve also found a love for chalk paint and repurposing old furniture.

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We are trying to avoid going overboard. Even still, we find ourselves spending at least $100 at the grocery store several times a week, and too many $300 trips to Home Depot.

All of this being said, we are still very fortunate. Our online business is thriving and we can still work from anywhere. We have hired people to maintain our property and pond for just over $200/month which allows us to go when we please. We realize that we still need to take advantage of it while we can. Because who knows what the future holds for us…

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  1. This is something that has been on my mind since we’ve been back. Thankfully I still have my insurance from my job, but once that runs out, I’m scared to see what the cost will be per month. AND I’ve just accepted a job that I’ll have to pay self employment tax on. Not looking forward to next years tax season.

    • Charlie and Brittany May 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm · · Reply

      I feel ya! It sure costs a lot of money to come home. We may be making another exit for 2017! Good luck with your new job! Is it in LA?

      • Thank you! I’m actually in Dallas right now. The job is online so I can go anywhere. Figure I should use this time to visit family. Congrats on your house!!!

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