So, I already know that my commute is worth a house in Bali, rather than be bitter that I’m jostling for elbow room on train and not lazing around a beach, I’ve decided to turn to something more realistic – finding awesome places where I could live on my current budget, using The Earth Awaits’ calculator.
Applying the 50/20/30 budgeting rule, I can afford to spend roughly $1,600 on essentials, and and an extra $950 on “wants”. That means I’m working on a budget of roughly $2,500 each month.
As for the other filtering options, I’m going for a one bedroom in the city centre, because when I start my new life, I want to be where the action is. I’m also putting “low” for crime rate, because my cutting wit is no help in a fist fight, and for pollution, because I like to breathe.
And, of course, I’m a budgeter but I’m also realistic, so I’ve left lifestyle at “modest.”
So, without further ado, if I was inclined to leave my life behind and start over in a new city somewhere, here’s where I could do it…
…On the cheap
Population: 399,565 Crime: 18/100 Pollution: 15/100
Monthly budget: $505.32
Housing: $299.82 Food: $125.69 Other: $79.82
The most budget-friendly option is sunny Mangalore, where temperatures range between 21 and 34 degrees and a bottle of wine comes in at a little over $4. The only downside is that the neighbours may not be so happy to see me move in – it scores as “discriminatory” as far as having a foreign neighbour goes.
If I had a rainy day fund of $10,000 to bring with me to my new home, I could live in Mangalore as a jobless tourist for approximately 1 year and 7 months.
The neighbours may not like that either.
Population: 154,715 Crime: 16/100 Pollution: 10/100
Monthly budget: $2,456.29
Housing: $1,699.01 Food: $301.85 Other: $455.43
Top spot within my budget (just) for quality of life is Heidelberg. It scores high on freedom and a bottle of local beer is just $1.18.
The fact that my German vocabulary is limited to “Schadenfreude”, “Lager” and “Wiener Schnitzel” might be a trifle challenging – although now that I think about it, that might just about cover everything I need to say.
…Free as a bird
Population: 195,045 Crime: 14/100 Pollution: 31/100
Monthly budget: $2,174.58
Housing: $1,241,46 Food: $393.49 Other: $539.63
If I want to embrace my inner anarchist in my new life abroad, Oulu is the place to do it. It’s scores a perfect 100% on the freedom index, and in fact, five of the top 6 freest cities are in Finland. The downside is that it’s a frozen winter wasteland – I mean, wonderland – so I’ll likely never leave the house.
(P.S., the US – land of the free and home of the brave – doesn’t even get a mention until about two-thirds of the way down the page.)
…As a freelancer
Population: 122,219 Crime: 15/100 Pollution: 20/100
Monthly budget: $2,249.54
Housing: $1,336.90 Food: $365.28 Other: $547.36
Being a personal finance blogger, quick internet upload speed is a must for me – and Aalborg delivers. With an average broadband upload speed of 20.3 Mb/s and a download speed of 38.1 Mb/s (a couple of cities beat it on download speed) Aalborg is perfect for online freelance work. Or, you know, posting videos of your cat misbehaving.
It scores high on freedom as well, but the downside is that the weather is a little chilly for my tastes. Good thing I’ll be sitting in front of my computer all day anyway.
…If I only rarely felt the desire to see another human being
Population: 23,276 Crime: 39/100 Pollution: 6/100
Monthly budget: $ 2,458.98
Housing: $1,516.15 Food: $505.49 Other: $437.34
Assuming I’ve started this new life in order to escape society and its trappings, I’d be looking for the most sparsely populated city – somewhere I could rent a log cabin, grow my own food and never, ever, have to awkwardly wave at my neighbour ever again. Enter Whitehorse.
With very low pollution and a near perfect freedom score it’s a pretty nice place to go into self-imposed exile – or at least it would be, if a 20 degree day wasn’t considered the height of summer.
It’s also a welcoming place for foreign neighbours – probably because with such a small population, you’d have to travel for two days just to see your neighbour, so who cares where they’re from?
Check out the calculator for yourself and let me know what city would be your pick and why.