Monday, November 19, 2012
Location and lifestyle
For years expatriates from the United States have searched out places where a tiny US income goes a long ways. For some people it’s a simple as going next door to Mexico. Others seek out remote corners of the globe. Often it’s retirees stretching a buck and having an adventure. Younger people may be living on small investment returns or rental income.
Living expenses vary dramatically within the US. My in-laws retired early and sold their home in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. They then built a nicer place in rural Texas, and another one on Table Rock Lake in Missouri. Had they stayed in NY, their income would not have even payed the taxes on the old place. As it is, they live very comfortably on a surprisingly modest income.
My income provides a comfortable life out here in the woods, but city life would be a struggle. Here I’ve access to resources that don’t show up on a tax form. There’s clean water, firewood, wild foods, and some garden space. I can store materials and build things that improve my life. None of that would be possible in city or even a suburban development with rules and agreements.
I’ve family and friends here that make my life better. Favors are traded back and forth. There are people who’ll help you out in pinch. It makes life easier all around without having to spend a lot of money. A High School friend of mine moved back to his hometown when his daughter was born. He and his wife figured it was worth it just for the free babysitting. Quality childcare is not cheap.
It never hurts to occasionally examine one’s living arrangements to see if things could be better somewhere else. Sometimes it’s a matter of moving down the street to a more affordable house, or maybe it’s moving to the other side of the world. Family obligations make keep you in a region. Then again, maybe some distance would be just the thing to improve family relations.
Sometimes you don’t change, but the place you live changes around you, and not for the better. You can buy a place out in the country, only to have the city grow up around you. My father-in-law grew up working on farms. He fished and hunted. As the years went by, farms turned to housing developments. There were fewer and fewer places he could do anything he enjoyed. After his early retirement, he set himself up where he could live like he did as a kid.
You want to make sure you live in a place you love. Saving money in a place you hate is a false economy. It’s all about living well, not how much actual money you have.