Your Cost Of Living Can Be Almost As Low As You Want It To Be
Today is the final day of our celebration of Live and Invest Overseas’ 10th anniversary.
I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve been able to accomplish.
What started out as a two-person crew working out of a cramped living room in my tiny apartment in Panama…
Is today… 10 years later… Live and Invest Overseas… with more than three dozen employees across multiple countries and continents.
How did we get from there to here?
That has had a whole lot to do with you, dear reader…
Thank you, sincerely, for reading.
We value and appreciate your time, your attention, your loyalty, and your custom.
And we look forward to a long, productive relationship.
Today’s essay is 10 years old as well. It addresses the most popular reason people decide to live overseas. It also offers an important perspective…
You could reduce your cost of living to a fraction of what it is right now by moving overseas.
In fact, this cost of living question is more complicated than you might imagine.
But what if you’re living now in Boise?
And what if, rather than Cuenca or Leon, you’re looking to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Panama City, Panama?
Before you could determine if, in fact, your cost of living in BA would be more or less than in Boise, you’d have to figure first how you want to live.
Are you going to invest in a home of your own… or rent?
Are you going to own a car? Engage a driver?
Before we left France, Lief tried to budget our new life in Panama. When he did, he realized that it’s going to cost us more to live here in Panama City than it cost us to live in Paris (yes, I had him double-check his numbers).
While we owned our apartment in Paris, here in Panama, we’re renting… and rents have spiked in this city in recent months.
While we got by nicely without a car in Paris, here in Panama, we’ll have to have one. And we’ll have to have a driver, too, because I don’t plan to get behind the wheel of a vehicle in Panama City anytime soon.
In addition, you’ve got to remember that cost of living is a moving target. Currencies rise and fall, are devalued and revalued. Inflation spikes. Markets correct.
And, most important, remember that cost of living is relative…
If your current home base is Newport Beach, the entire rest of the world looks a bargain.
Friend and perpetual traveler Paul Terhorst, with 25 years of living abroad experience under his belt, was living in Argentina until last year. He left Argentina when costs in that country began rising and moved to Thailand, where the living remains super cheap.
Paul writes, “Argentina fails the Big Mac test this year. The cost of living in Argentina is slightly higher than in the States, according to The Economist’s report. Friends on the ground in BA concur. Inflation in this country is estimated at about 30% a year right now, and, since May, the government has been revaluing its peso. Bottom line, Argentina costs about the same as the United States at this point.
“Argentina and other developing countries still offer many low-cost alternatives that have disappeared in the States.
“For example, in BA and Mendoza, you can find small, family-run hotels in the heart of town for less than US$50 a night. Those hotels have long since been driven out of U.S. cities.
“Similarly, in BA, you still can find a steak with a glass of wine for US$10 in some restaurants. You still can get a car and a driver for about the cost of the car alone in more developed places. You still can employ a maid for US$4 an hour.”
Inflation is a global issue, but the effects are still relative.
A gardener may cost twice as much today as he did three years ago in Uruguay… but he’s still a bargain at less than US$100 a month.
In all the countries we’re reporting to you about and from in these dispatches, certain things remain bargains, certainly relatively, sometimes absolutely.
Rents are crazy high here in Panama City, as I’ve been reporting to you, but we’ve hired a full-time maid for US$250 a month. And my son Jack had his hair cut the other day for US$2.
Roving Latin America Editor Lee Harrison writes that “You could live in one of the best neighborhoods of Buenos Aires right now on a budget of as little as US$1,290 per month.”
In other words, costs in BA may be rising, but less than US$1,300 a month remains amazingly cheap…
Especially when you consider the quality of life you could enjoy in Buenos Aires.
Maybe you could live for less in Boise.
But you’d be in Boise.