The early reviews I’ve gotten so far on A Better Life for Half the Price echo something I heard a lot when I put out Travel Writing 2.0. In essence, “Don’t expect a lot of sugar-coating.”
I like sugar. I probably eat too much of it. But I try not to spoon any onto the information I’m giving out, especially when someone could be making big life decisions based on what I’m telling them.
Life is like a box of chocolates as Forest would say, but part of the appeal of escaping your boring predictable life and moving somewhere completely new is, you get a much bigger box. You get a huge variety of surprises on a regular basis instead of one or two a month at home. (Ooooh, a new TV series with my favorite actor! Look at that, a new Chipotle at our strip mall!)
Thailand is not Nicaragua and Bulgaria is not Mexico, but here are a few commonalities expatriates or location independent nomads run into when they move from the familiar to the new.
Upsides to Moving to a Developing Country
You spend far less on living expenses and have more disposable income.
The costs of restaurants, clubs, and entertainment shows are lower so you can enjoy them all more often.
Domestic help is drastically cheaper, so you can afford a maid, tutor, gardener, frequent taxi rides, or a weekly masseuse.
The weather will probably be better—unless you already live somewhere warm and sunny.
You’ll probably be healthier, due to less stress, cheaper healthy food, and lower medical bills. Most non-U.S./Canadian cities are also more pedestrian friendly, so you’ll probably walk more.
You’re not deluged with the constant negative and bickering non-news that the 24-hour cable channels dish out every day.
Your life will get much more interesting. Every day you’re hit with new and different stimulation of all five senses, and you’re regularly meeting new people who aren’t like you.
Downsides to Leaving Your Rich Country Home
You won’t be able to buy 24 types of mustard and 48 kinds of beer in a local supermarket.
You will not have the breadth of clothing or cosmetics shopping variety you have in a typical first world city.
You will pay more for electronics than you do in the USA unless you move to China.
You may not have the lightning fast internet service you’ve gotten used to.
You may have to communicate in a different language.
You may have to put up with more garbage, more graffiti, more paperwork, lazier bureaucrats, corrupt policemen, and sewage systems where you can’t flush the toilet paper.
You may not be able to drink the water from the tap.
You will probably miss some things about home that feel like a part of you, such as:
– The greenness, the mountains, the changing seasons, or the colors of changing leaves.
– A lush garden full of plants you know and recognize.
– Your local friends and community.
– Your favorite grocery store, the local bar, your regular restaurant.
– 248 channels of TV in English plus a DVR with a terrabyte of storage.
Are You a Good Hurdler?
In the end, no matter how many things you have in one column and how many things you have in the other, a lot of it comes down to attitude. Are you someone who wants an interesting life and thrives on adventure? Or are you someone who prefers routines and predictability? Can you deal well with uncertainty and a need for patience? Or do you get flustered when things move too slowly for your tastes and when everything is not prim and neat?
Most things worth doing in life require some work, and the overcoming of obstacles. Staying put and doing nothing is the easy choice, of course. Making a big move requires some commitment and a willingness to meet new challenges.
That attitude can be influenced, of course, by finances. If you spend most of your time figuring out how to reduce your tax bill and where you’re going to dock a larger yacht, you are probably just fine staying where you are. If you have trouble finding enough cash to pay the bills each month though and never seem to get ahead, cutting your expenses in half could have a life-changing impact on your future.
If you’re in the latter camp, follow this link.