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Live for Less Elsewhere
Old 11-29-2015, 04:22 PM   #1
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Live for Less Elsewhere

Hi All-

New member here. I recently returned from 2 months in Pune, India. I stayed in a guest flat for $320/month. $300/month covered EVERYTHING else! At 65 rupees per USD, I'd take 1000 rupees from ATM and it'd last almost entire week.

This has inspired me to plan to spend at least 4 months in 2016 in India where I figure I'll save $1000/month including airfare. I've been checking ex-pat sites and it's certainly feasible to cut expenses 50% abroad.

I'd love to hear from others thinking along these lines.

Laurence
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Old 12-01-2015, 07:38 PM   #2
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While what you say about COL is true, it's not for me.

I have a good friend originally from India, who spent 40+ years in Canada. At retirement he realized he didn't have enough saved to live the way he wanted to here. Since he had family there, spoke a couple of the languages, he went back. He tells me his total spending is under C$20K/yr and 1/2 of that is his 2 months/yr in Canada.

I went for a visit a couple of years ago. Things were incredibly cheap. My friend lived in a ~2,000 sq ft house in a gated community. Rent C$650. Household help (cook/bottle washer and gardener/driver neither of whom lived in) was less than $100. Food was pocket change. So, yes, it is inexpensive.

The month I was there, we toured India. Three trips involved airplanes and one a long train ride. Three of us shared a hotel room when away. We always hired a car and driver. Friend said he'd pay everything with his Indian CC and we split it later. Later came to $1500 for about 20 nights away from home base including transportation. Dirt cheap.

Now the bad stuff. I don't want to live where I can't speak the language. Maybe 30% of the people I met could speak a few words of English (it is one of the official languages). My friend's family all had good English but they weren't all the people I wanted to talk to. India is an incredibly poor country and the poverty I saw around me hit me hard. India is also an incredibly dirty country. Junk and garbage everywhere. When flying into a city, you could see the changing color of the air. It wasn't pretty.

More good stuff. Indians are incredibly honest. On a road trip we stopped for gas. I went to the john. You don't want to go there (pun intended). 1/2 hour later I realized I'd dropped my wallet somewhere. Friend says "we have to go back". I said "why bother, won't be found". We go back. Friend says "check the john while I talk to these guys sitting over here". Get called back before going 50 feet. They had it (and also our car's plate number). I give them my cash (about $50 each). Friend asks how much I gave them. When I tell him he says "that's more than they earn in 3 months".

I may go back for another visit, but stay 4 months without an interpreter, or local friend, not me. Also the odds on DW joining us are less than zero.

Of course, YMMV
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:55 AM   #3
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Cost is just one aspect. And by your calculations, you're saving $4000/yr. How does that compare with your annual budget? For us, it would be meaningful, but now life changing.

I assume you have a plan for interesting things to do there for 4 months. Can tourists stay in India for 4 months at a time?
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:37 AM   #4
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I lived in very urban India for a year. Hoping to go back; quite frankly, hoping to retire there. But the residency issue for a non-Indian complicates matters.

Sri Lanka, often thought of as a calmer, gentler version of India, offers permanent residency to expats.


I am in love with India… where I find the heat and smells and oils and spices, and puffs of temple incense, and sweat and darkness, and dirt and cruelty, and above all, things wonderful and fascinating innumerable. Rudyard Kipling, 1893
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:26 AM   #5
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I'm very supportive of the idea of living in other countries and among other cultures, so my comments here are in no way meant as criticism - please don't take them as such. I am merely playing devil's advocate - something I often do, with others, as well as in conversations with myself.

As a counterpoint, it is possible to live cheaply in developed countries too. One aspect of doing so that may make it harder is that we humans tend to consider our surroundings when judging our own levels of comfort, happiness etc. If the guy next to you has a 3,000 sq foot house with a Porsche and a Tesla parked in the front, you may find it harder to feel that you're living the life of Riley in your 800 sq foot house and used Toyota Yaris. However, both of you are, in fact, doing incredibly well. You both have a warm and dry shelter, reliable automotive transport, and modern telecommunications (cell phones, internet etc).
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:29 AM   #6
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It may well be cheaper to live elsewhere, but you do give up many protections that many take for granted here in the USA. Building codes, labor laws, consumer protection laws, etc. are all mostly non-existent in other countries.

When a bank employee steals your money in a foreign bank, good luck getting it back.
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:39 AM   #7
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There are lots of folks on this board who retired elsewhere for less...lots of pros and cons. I just retired early last week and hubby this week and leaving for Australia and the Philippines for 5 months....choice destinations but low cost (Australia will be for is due to housesitting gigs). Checkout gocurrycracker.com for inspiration as well.

International living for a few months at a time in Asia or other low cost areas of the world will help us transition from full employment to a traveling lifestyle (while we keep our home on the US) to eventually, probably living overseas full time (right now, most likely the Philippines...I have dual citizenship so no visa issues!)


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Old 12-02-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
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As a counterpoint, it is possible to live cheaply in developed countries too.
In LCOL area perhaps. As I've only lived in SoCal, no idea how cheaply you can live in other states.

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One aspect of doing so that may make it harder is that we humans tend to consider our surroundings when judging our own levels of comfort, happiness etc. If the guy next to you has a 3,000 sq foot house with a Porsche and a Tesla parked in the front, you may find it harder to feel that you're living the life of Riley in your 800 sq foot house and used Toyota Yaris. However, both of you are, in fact, doing incredibly well. You both have a warm and dry shelter, reliable automotive transport, and modern telecommunications (cell phones, internet etc).
That 800 sq ft house/condo costs $400+K where I live. In the Philippines, a similar condo in an expensive area would cost ~$100K. Real estate property taxes are pretty cheap, too. I think we paid less than $100 per year or something for our old house (built by great, great granddad). Wouldn't want to drive in the Philippines. Drivers and traffic are much worse there than in SoCal during rush hour.

That said, you're on your own when it comes to medical and that can get quite expensive. On the other hand, long-term care is much less expensive than in the US.
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Old 12-02-2015, 03:42 PM   #9
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SoCal has some of the highest COL areas in the US hnzw_rui, as I'm sure you're aware, so it probably wouldn't be a first choice for someone wanting to live cheaply - unless they bought their property a long time ago. In that case, Prop 13 is now helping them to keep their housing costs low. Also, for anyone who has been in a rent-controlled apartment for a long time, they are most likely also doing well. I know people in the Los Angeles area who fall into both categories and are living on modest incomes.

I forget who, but we have a member here who lives in a small town in CO (Canon City, I think) in a manufactured home. They use it as a home base for their travels, IIRC, and the cost of living for this home base is low. I'm sure there are many other examples around the US. If you want to live in a larger area with more of the city-type amenities and activities, I believe it can be done, if you are creative and adaptable. W2R loves living in NO - and there's quite a lot going on there.

Health insurance is a whole different conversation. My out of pocket healthcare costs are zero as I am on Medicaid, but not many people here would either have a low enough income to qualify, or would be satisfied with that type of coverage. I've read interesting stories from some travelers in this forum about high quality and affordable healthcare in some countries. I believe Thailand was one of them.

Anyway, I don't want to sidetrack this thread too much. Back to the subject of living in other countries.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:21 PM   #10
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I lived in very urban India for a year. Hoping to go back; quite frankly, hoping to retire there. But the residency issue for a non-Indian complicates matters.

....
My friend lost his Indian citizenship when he became a Canadian 40 years ago. He is in India on a retirement visa of some kind. I asked him about the household help he employees (there were a few years where being household help were job options for him). His response was "on my visa we are expected to employ locals". Look beyond what you can see, grasshopper. Not all rules are written.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:33 PM   #11
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I met an old guy years ago who said: "the number one thing I look for when I travel is how close it is to a good hospital".

I thought he was just a crazy old coot.

I had spent 20 years running around in third world countries and never gave it any thought. I was always really healthy and never had a problem.

Now, as I've aged it is the first thing I consider.

Over the past 5 years I've had 2 very close calls where if I wasn't near a first-class hospital I wouldn't be posting here today.

We still travel to Europe, Mexico and developed Asia a lot but every time I get an interest in a real third world country I remind myself that for me anyway, perhaps those days are over.

Yes, I realize that there's lots of good HC in many odd places, but at this point in my life, I don't want to find out the hard way.
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Old 12-04-2015, 07:29 AM   #12
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I do live in Asia at the moment - I have spent most of my working life in SE Asia/Africa and Central Asia. Yes, you can live a cheap life, go native/live like a local, but to have a good life anywhere it is going to cost money, at its not cheap. A safe house, car, quality house-staff, flights, medical, education is all very expensive no matter what some people say. If you go to the local hospital its cheap, to go to a good quality expat hospital it is quite expensive - you get what you pay for. Local food is cheap (Noodles and lots of Sate' and drinks, tonight was about 6 bucks) but good quality healthy food is expensive. I retired 5 years ago and have been picking up contracts (on my 3rd 2 year contract) to stay here. Just turned 60, and I am now considered old and I doubt I can pick up another contract, but I will try. I will probably head back to the states, even though I can afford to live here or anywhere, my house in Houston is very nice and comfortable. If you want to live cheap, you can do so in the US, Europe, Asia or Africa - but if you want to live a great life, you need lots of money.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:05 AM   #13
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I'm slowly testing the waters for snowbirding of some kind. Leaving on a New Zealand trip in two days (live in northern europe) for three months. Last year I went to Sri Lanka for a month also to bridge the winter period.

If it works out and agrees with my other plans I might indeed start doing something like this on a more structural basis. Not so much for cost benefits, just because that life agrees with me more.

One thing I won't be giving up ever though is my citizenship as it garantuees access to low-cost healthcare.

If I would go low cost only, in most high income countries you can go as low as many several middle/low income countries by relocating outside cities and in more rural areas. Housing is such a big factor.

A nice little house in the French Ardennes for example can cost you 70k USD. 4 hours of driving towards the cities and you go up by orders of magnitude. I'm sure in the USA you have similar examples.

One factor you might want to consider in low income countries is that many of them are growing faster than the richer countries. Better make sure you won't get priced out of the area 10 years down the road.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:39 AM   #14
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It may well be cheaper to live elsewhere, but you do give up many protections that many take for granted here in the USA. Building codes, labor laws, consumer protection laws, etc. are all mostly non-existent in other countries.

When a bank employee steals your money in a foreign bank, good luck getting it back.
a country with fewer laws actually sounds refreshing
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:33 AM   #15
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DH & I visited India two years ago. The people are wonderful but when considering a long term stay know that electricity is unreliable and the power providers must shed load almost daily (you want your own generator), your stomach must learn to cope with unfamiliar bacteria (on our trip the former expats to India in years past were the ones who got sick as they tried to eat like a local), the only water fit to drink is bottled. Of all of the issues sanitation is the biggest issue. That said, the Indian state of Kerala was the cleanest.
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Old 12-04-2015, 11:58 AM   #16
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If you're looking to live elsewhere, other than the states, check out how much your asset is worth in a foreign country. This is just for a little levity on Friday guys--not to take it too seriously.

Countries where you're a Millionaire
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:01 PM   #17
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Health insurance is a whole different conversation. My out of pocket healthcare costs are zero as I am on Medicaid, but not many people here would either have a low enough income to qualify, or would be satisfied with that type of coverage.
Interesting. I thought Medicaid looked at both income and assets?

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I've read interesting stories from some travelers in this forum about high quality and affordable healthcare in some countries. I believe Thailand was one of them.
Yes, healthcare is more affordable in other countries (at least on a cash basis) even if you go to good quality expat level hospitals. I can also attest to the quality of care in the Philippines (dad was hospitalized there for 2 months and now that he's back in the US, all his US doctors have been pretty impressed). That said, his bill came to around PhP3.6M or around US$80,000. In fairness, the treatment would have probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US without insurance.
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:01 PM   #18
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a country with fewer laws actually sounds refreshing
- until you're in the position of needing the law to be on your side.
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:23 PM   #19
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- until you're in the position of needing the law to be on your side.

+1 In just about anywhere in developing countries private property is at risk. In many places, widows lose protection as soon as their husbands die and in many cases, the husband's family members strong arms the widow and takes her property. And don't expect the law to protect you from assaults or robbery or anything really since the nearest police could be hundreds of miles away and if there's one locally, they may be aligned to the offending party. Most people in those places cannot assert their rights unless they are aligned with the right people.


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Old 12-04-2015, 01:30 PM   #20
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.......... And don't expect the law to protect you from assaults or robbery or anything really since the nearest police could be hundreds of miles away and if there's one locally, they may be aligned to the offending party. Most people in those places cannot assert their rights unless they are aligned with the right people. ..............
As we learned when a member of our party was robbed at knife point in St. Croix. I was stunned to hear the police officer say, "did you give them your money or did they take your money?"
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