Cheap Sleeps – Money Stretching Places to Live

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Cheapest Countries

to Live In

We’ve all been there. Sat at work on a spectacularly boring day, gazing out the window and dreaming about moving somewhere less resolutely meh. But it’s one thing dreaming about moving to London, or Paris, or Tokyo, and quite another turning up there, looking at the square feet of space your meager savings will buy and realizing that you haven’t thought this through at all.

 The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. While there are plenty of countries it will likely bankrupt you to move to, there are plenty more where even the most middle-of-the-road foreign income will see you living like a king. Here are 10 countries, gleaned from the annual Cost of Living Indexes published by Numbeo and Expatistan, where it’s cheapest to live in 2017:

10. Mexico

America’s southern neighbor is mainly famous in the north for sombreros, Tex-Mex, and drug violence. But as we revealed in a recent article, there’s so, so much more to the ancient home of the Aztecs than that. Aside from the long history and vibrant culture of Mexico City, there’s some 60-odd indigenous groups speaking a mix of languages, crumbling Aztec ruins, unique traditions from each Mexican state, and coastline galore. Oh, and did we mention it’s very, very cheap?

Numbeo estimates the cost of living in Mexico to be nearly 60% lower than living in the US. Outside the capital, you can rent a 3 bedroom apartment near the center of a city for an average of $480 a month. You can get a meal for two in a decent restaurant for twenty bucks. A transport ticket costs under 40 cents. Someone, get us to Tijuana.

Of course, this is all assuming you’re moving abroad with a US salary or pension. In terms of local purchasing power, Mexico sits somewhere in the middle of the list, meaning a local on the average wage can buy maybe half the stuff a local on the average wage in the US can.

9. Tunisia

It would probably be stretching the limits of acceptable writing to describe Tunisia as the jewel in North Africa’s crown, but we’re gonna do it anyway. The tiny desert nation is home to 10 million, all crammed into a handful of ancient cities that are staggeringly beautiful. This is the place where all the Tatooine scenes were filmed for the first Star Wars, which should give you some idea of how visually-arresting the country is. Then there’s the crazy affordability. The cost of renting a 1 bed apartment in a bustling city center? $160 per month.

On the other hand, Tunisia suffers a downside Mexico doesn’t: it borders Libya. Since the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, Libya has been a haven for ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and about a bazillion other crazy rebel groups, all itching to kill Western tourists. In 2015, an armed gunman trained in Libya attacked a five star hotel in Sousse, killing 38, including 30 Brits; making it the deadliest day for UK citizens since the 7/7 London bombings a decade earlier. As a result, the UK Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia. The US government likewise advises extreme caution when visiting.

8. Moldova

Hands up: who can point to Moldova on a map? Eastern Europe’s least-visited country is a tiny sliver of land sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, and locked in a perpetual war with its pro-Russian population. We don’t mean that metaphorically. Moldova’s eastern flank has been occupied since the early 1990s by an insurgent army who set up their own, autonomous republic known as Transnistria. Although the conflict is “frozen” (no one has been killed in ages), it is still a potential flash point in Europe’s poorest nation.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind Soviet architecture, cold winters, and the possibility of Putin annexing your living room, Moldova has a lot going for it. Aside from being crazy cheap – the cost of living is 62% lower than in the US – it’s one of the biggest wine producing nations on Earth, with over 200 km of tunnels filled with wine buried beneath one monastery. Plus, Chisinau is getting a reputation as one of Europe’s party capitals. Double plus, you get to say you’ve lived in Moldova. How many of your friends can say that? None.

7. Nepal

It’s the country where Everest lives. That’s all you really need to know about Nepal, a fascinating mountain nation that has been wowing travelers ever since they first set eyes on it. Sagarmatha, as the locals call it, is just the biggest of the world class peaks dotting this frozen, high-altitude land, each sheerer and scarier than the last. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also ancient Buddhist temples, mysterious mountain villages, and wild elephants you can ethically ride and oh our God yes, that’s actually a real thing. Shut up and take our money!

Speaking of the $$$, Nepal’s actually kind of an odd one. Numbeo ranks it as a hair more expensive than Mexico, but Expatistan ranks Kathmandu as cheaper than any city in Moldova. So we’re adding it here just to be on the safe side.

However, before you leap on that plane, we should warn you that things aren’t all peachy. In 2015, Kathmandu suffered a horrifying earthquake that killed 10,000 and nearly leveled the city. The damage costs were equivalent to 50% of Nepal’s GDP, and reconstruction is still barely underway. Although locals would doubtless appreciate you adding your tourist dollars to the local economy, it’s perhaps still a bit soon to think about moving permanently.

6. Syria

Yeah. Syria.

We’re not exaggerating when we say Syria was once one of the most beautiful places on Earth. If you don’t believe us, check out these pictures. It was a land of mountains and winding rivers and valleys and ancient castles and cities that have been standing since the dawn of time. As the Syrian Tourist Board is currently at pains to point out, a stretch of coast about 120 miles long that has miraculously avoided the fighting remains wonderful. And it’s about 63% cheaper than living in the US, too.

 Of course, even the relatively safe coastline isn’t somewhere you should be heading anytime soon. Since 2011, Syria has been caught up in the deadliest civil war of the century, with an estimated 250,000 being killed and around 4 million being left homeless. ISIS, AL-Qaeda and other groups are fighting Kurdish paramilitaries, Assad’s regime forces, and about 100 other rebel factions as Russian jets scream overhead, dropping bombs. It ain’t a safe place. But even a war as awful as this can’t last forever. Perhaps in another decade or so outsiders will be able to go back in and witness the beauty of the Middle East’s most tragic country.

5. Azerbaijan

You didn’t expect a wealthy petro-state to be on this list, did you? Situated on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is an oil rich collision of east and west, a place where gigantic glass towers dominate the money-soaked capital, and emerging dictator Ilham Aliyev has made a hobby out of jailing democracy activists. About the size of South Carolina (or Scotland), the ‘Land of Fire’ is both a hyper-expensive Dubai of the Caucasus Region, and a place where you can rent an apartment for less than $150 per month.

So, what’s with this great contrast? Well, you know how New York and California seem to suck in all the money and energy, and London is like Britain’s NYC plus Britain’s Silicon Valley? Baku is like London plus every single other city that isn’t in terminal decline. The rest of the country is basically a rural world of farming sheep and kicking back and eking out an existence on the average wage of $260 a month, an amount that makes $150 for an apartment suddenly look like daylight robbery. Still, at least you get to live in a country that has a place called ‘fire mountain’ that really is a mountain that’s literally on fire.

4. Georgia

If you want all the excitement of living in the Caucasus region, but for some inexplicable reason don’t dig the idea of residing within driving distance of a flaming fire mountain, you could always opt for Georgia. The Christian flipside to Azerbaijan’s Muslim culture, the two neighbors are historic allies, largely due to a mutual dislike of nearby Armenia. The big difference comes with their neighbors to the north. While Azerbaijan and Russia have a cold yet cordial relationship, Georgia got invaded by Putin in 2008.

Since then, the tiny South Ossetia region has been under de-facto Russian control, in a situation kinda like that of Moldova and Transnistria. Only Georgia has the additional headache of another area like that. The unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia declared independence years ago, with Moscow guaranteeing its territorial integrity; meaning Tbilisi actually has control of far less of its 69,000 square kilometer territory than most similarly-sized nations.

On the plus side, Georgia is perfect if you like untouched wilderness, craggy peaks, and little mountain villages lost to time. And if you like your beer to cost 70 cents, which is really the important thing.

3. Pakistan

If you want a (potentially short) life of non-stop excitement, you could do worse than moving to Pakistan. India’s long-term rival, Pakistan is home to Karachi, the world’s most violent megacity, an unrecognized republic controlled by insurgents known as Balochistan, deadly terror groups, armed kidnappers, and the occasional mega-earthquake. It’s also a nuclear state that frequently tries to start wars with another nuclear state (India).

In fact, Pakistan is so fundamentally wild that its government recently issued a decree that all foreigners must stay within a single city unless they hire a security detail and inform the government of their travel plans, in case they wind up with a severe case of death. With advice like that, hearing that an apartment can go for as little as $77 per month likely comes as cold comfort.

Still, if you go happen to go out there, at least you’ll be in one of the prettiest, most historic countries on Earth. Aside from the mountains, there are forts built by the Mughals, old colonial relics from the British days, and some of the grandest Islamic monuments ever built.

2. Ukraine

According to Numbeo, Ukraine is home to the cheapest McDonald’s combo meal in the whole of Europe. You can get a Big Mac, fries and a drink for under $2.50. We’re not gonna say this is a good reason for you to pack your bags and head to Ukraine, but it’s certainly a reason… another being that life in general in Ukraine is 65% cheaper than life in America.

Not that this is much use to the locals. The average salary across the whole nation is under $200 a month. As a result, Ukraine only just misses the bottom 10 countries for local purchasing power, ranking under Zimbabwe, Moldova and El Salvador, and only just higher than Nigeria and Nepal. An average Ukrainian salary will buy you 26% of what an average American salary will buy you. Then there’s the not-quite-frozen conflict in the country’s east, which has killed about 10,000 in nearly three years (once again, as with so many on this list, Russia is involved).

On the other hand, if you can stomach the screaming inequality, unbelievably cold winters and territorial crisis, then Ukraine is almost breathtakingly beautiful. There’s its snatch of haunting mountains in the West, its two great, ancient cities of Lviv and Kiev, and, finally, its ridiculously good-looking citizens. If you need us, we’ll be booking our flights to Kiev.

1. India

This is it, possibly the cheapest country on planet Earth. India has mid-range restaurants where two people can eat world-beating food for under $10. It has taxis that will wait for you for an hour and charge less than a dollar. It has apartments for slightly over $100 per month. In the southern city of Thiruvananthapuram, utilities can cost only twenty bucks a month. With an income of under $1,000 a month, you can live like a freakin’ king.

It’s also, y’know, famously one of the most picturesque nations on Earth. There’s the Taj Mahal, the ancient city of Varanasi, the Himalayas, Raj-era hill towns, creaking old railway lines, the lush, tropical south, and the venerated, epic, eternal Ganges. You’ve got Bollywood, curry, tigers, ancient history, epic gorges, friendly people and a floating temple that is literally made of gold. Plus, Octopussy was set here. Man, we must’ve seen that movie… twice.

 Of course, it ain’t all fun and highly-choreographed dance numbers. There’s shocking inequality, extreme poverty, deadly diseases, sporadic ethnic violence, and the eternal possibility of nuclear war with Pakistan. But is it worth it? You check these pictures and decide for yourself. (The correct answer is ‘yes’.)

Cost of Living Havens

– WIF Economics

The NULL Solution = Episode 113

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The NULL Solution = Episode 113

…Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored closely…

The devil is in the details. While Skaldic seems to think he is closing in on a solution, the Gus-Roy-Fitch team is focusing on finding the back door to the blossoming Red Planet. They are striving to circumvent the vexing brainteaser, in favor of picking the lock.

 

Manned Rover

“What if we land on the other side from Harmonia, drop our hotrod/buggy prototype, the manned-rover people are working on, and get a closer look that way,” Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored by the doves in Washington. “We will sneak up on Harmonia, quiet like.”

Fletcher Fitch is usually the voice of reason, “We have not resolved the payload issue, Gus.”

Rick Stanley

“Don’t we have the drone that hauled Space Colony 1 in mothballs? Outfit it with a crew cabin, big enough for me and Rick Stanley and let’s go!”

Roy Crippen speaks for the ever-postponed AARP generation, “Rick Stanley is retiring this year. I’m not sure he wants to spend an entire year on one last rodeo.”

“Why don’t we leave that decision to him? He’s divorced, one of his kids is an aspiring astronaut and beside that, he is our lone remaining expert on the tow-drone… oh and the sub-light assist vehicle (SLAV) to boot.”

Manned Tow Drone

After giving some thought, Roy begins to change his tune. “The SLAV could get the drone to sub-space and we could re-fit the drone engines for speed.”

“2 months out, a month to explore and 2 months back. 6 months max, including the mission prep.”

“This whole idea is a stretch; it stretches both our manpower and our budget. You realize that, don’t you?”

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Sellers sell, fliers fly.  Gus M. does both. “Just remember, the riddle doesn’t apply to the opposite hemisphere… I don’t think.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 113


page 112

In Love With Bottled Water – WIF Wet Facts

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5 Facts About

Bottled Water

Related image

Angry Little Water Bottle by Pierre Thyss

The selling of bottled water can be dated back to 1622 at the Holy Well in Malvern, United Kingdom, which sold bottles of Malvern spring water. In the last 30 years, consumption of bottled water has increased dramatically and the average American now consumes 30 gallons of bottled water every year. But is bottled water actually better, safer, and worth the extra cost?

5. It’s Stupidly Expensive

As we’ll see in this list, bottled water is a big waste. One of the biggest things it wastes is people’s hard earned money.

According to a 2012 study from the University of Michigan, on average, bottled water costs $1.22 per gallon, which is 300 times more expensive than tap water. However, they point out that 2/3 of all bottles of water that are sold come in 16.9 ounce bottles, meaning that the water is actually $7.50 per gallon; that’s twice as much as gasoline.

In 2015, companies that distribute bottled water made $15 billion. That’s a whole lot of money spent on something that is so readily and easily available. If that wasn’t crazy enough, bottled water sales have gone up since then, and in 2016, for the first time ever, more gallons of bottled water were sold than soft drinks.

4. Nearly Half of Bottled Water is Tap Water

Have you ever thought about where the water in the bottle comes from? The origin of the water isn’t often listed in the ingredients, but sometimes the labels will say it’s “spring water,” “glacier water,” or “mountain water.” The problem is that the use of these words aren’t regulated so the water in the bottle doesn’t necessarily come from those sources.

In the book Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Waterauthor Peter Gleick says that several studies show that about 45 percent of all bottled water comes from municipal sources. This includes PepsiCo’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani.

Sometimes, taking water for bottled water from municipal sources can be a problem. For example, just outside of Guelph, Ontario, Nestle has a bottling plant and during a drought, they continued to draw water, putting the 130,000 citizens at risk of not having enough water.

3. Tastes as Good or Better… Maybe?

According to some people, they like bottled water because it tastes better than tap water. While it may be possible that some people can taste the difference, a majority of people can’t. Studies from the United States, Switzerland, Ireland, and France have found that only about one-third of people can tell the difference between tap water and bottled water. And this does makes some sense. There are differences between tap water and bottled water because different brands of bottled water contain varying levels of minerals like calcium and sodium, and water from different sources have different tastes.

While some people can tell the difference between bottled water and tap water, when it comes to taste, a majority of people think tap water tastes better than bottled water. In a few different studies, the number of people who preferred plain old tap water to bottled water can range from about 45 to 75%.

2. It’s No Safer Than Tap Water

One reason people choose bottled water over tap water is because they think it’s safer. In fact, the water crisis in Flint is one of the reasons why sales of bottled water have increased. The problem is that several studies have shown that bottled water isn’t any safer than tap water.

Usually when it comes to water in homes, there are two problems. First, the water comes from a well and the well can become contaminated. The second problem is usually caused by lead pipes in the home. Otherwise, all public water should be safe because of strict regulations and stringent testing by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Drug Administration.

However, obviously it’s not a perfect system and Flint is an example of how the system failed. But bottling water doesn’t exactly solve the problem of water safety because bottling adds several unnecessary steps. Water that’s already clean goes into a factory, some ingredients are added, it goes through some filters, and machines put it into bottles. The problem is that whenever you add steps, it increases the chances that something could go wrong, like the water could be contaminated with E. coli. Amazingly,the FDA only started screening bottled water for E. coli. in 2013.

While another Flint-like water crisis is quite possible in the future, if investment in infrastructure is made, then tap water will continue to be a safe and relatively cheap resource.

1. It’s Killing the Environment

We started off this list talking about how wasteful bottled water is, and its wastefulness is no more apparent than when it comes to the environmental effects. In order to bottle water, companies use 17 million barrels of oil every year. That is just to manufacture the bottles and bottle the water, not the transportation to get it to retailers. Not only that, but the process also uses 1.39 liters to bottle 1 liter of water, which is just mind-numbingly wasteful.

Finally, in 2016, 12.8 billion gallons of water were put into bottles that aren’t biodegradable and unfortunately, only 12 percent of the bottles are recycled. So these bottles are going to sit around for the next 450 years or so until they fully decompose. That pretty much leaves us with two choices: limit the amount of water bottles we drink, or start building those big space crafts like the ones in WALL-E because we’re going to need them.


In Love With Bottled Water

– WIF Wet Facts

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 215

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 215

…In fact, Thomas Jefferson and others would actually run national lotteries to pay for non-budgeted expenditures…

As part of his second Inaugural Address, Roy Crippen may well have quoted scenes from the beloved (by buffs) Science Fiction series in his globally televised speech. His accentuation of the SOL Project would blend in nicely with the film, amplifying the need for spanning spatial distances quickly. Selling his country on the expensive proposition is not going to be easy, even in light of the President’s overwhelming popularity.

B-U-D-G-E-T; 6 unassuming letters {5 if you’re a rotten speller BUGIT or bad with numbers} that spell fear in the heart of recent Presidents, ever since the USA’s spending has exceeded its income, sometime after George Washington took office. Although the fiscal dynamics of a fledgling nation is absolutely unvarnished by contrast, the “Father of Our Country” still needed to deal with the relation between exports & imports and expenditures vs. revenue.

In his first term, “Prez Roy”, the nation’s affectionate label for him, is the 48th such aspiring budget balancer. Previously Washington, George only knew the meaning of the word debt, in the days before unbridled credit. His administration and several succeeding others, spent only as much as it took in. In fact,Thomas Jefferson and others would actually run national lotteries to pay for non-budgeted expenditureslike wars.

“I think we have done very well,” Roy told the nation last month. “In 2034 we had our first balanced budget since 1997 and we have managed to do the same, every year since then. Have we all made sacrifices? Yes. And has not the long arm of the Federal revenue collecting been altered? Yes… mostly, but only because we ran out of things to tax.”

Yet even before the wheels of said responsible government would to grind away on Related imageJanuary 21st 2037, 25 trillion dollars had been borrowed and flushed down the toilet, protecting the world from itself and paying for those who refuse to take responsibility for their own affairs.

He goes on, “Productivity is not just another word. It is the foundation of industry, as well as a reasonable demand for services rendered. We are now all pulling on the same end of the rope.” When President Roy speaks it, it makes perfect sense & people listen. If a segment of society does not buy into his formula, it is isolated and dealt with.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 215


page 255

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

…And they shall turn their Plowshares into Space Colonies…

Space Colony2

Roy Crippen shares his view of the future.

Sometimes it is a curse to have a clear view of the future, knowing precisely where the planet is heading, if it chooses to remain isolated from the rest of the galaxy. “How shortsighted,” he would say. Earth has already squandered most of its non-renewable resources that it started with when modern man took over management some 8000 years ago. 8 x 1000 is a long time, but it is in the last 150 that 99.9% of it has been stripped away.

To impart these gloomy predictions, without looking like a doomsday-ist, he must convince the naysayers that the quest for space and the benefits from its demands is worth it. Everyday things like plastics/polymers, adhesives, and batteries have all had their biggest advancement because of the stress of space.

When his opponent speaks to people who don’t care that space-induced innovations keep their digital devices stay charged for 12 hours or that Gorilla Glue will mend just about anything they break, Vice President Sylvia Freelove will pounce on space expenditures and label them wasteful, when that money could be spent clothing and feeding the poor.

“Reaching for the stars do require a financial commitment,” he goes on to say that early autumn Chicago evening, “but please consider the alternatives:

  • Global overcrowding and hunger—some countries are running out of suitable ground.
  • Dwindling lumber & copper/iron resources—deforestation is at an all-time high & recycling can only provide enough metal.
  • Fossil fuels reserves are hovering on empty—how do we heat our homes or meet the needs of a mobile society.
  • Hopelessness is the dominant worldview—left with a barren planet that has been hollowed out by mining, drilling, and plundering.”

His presentation has such detail that even the graphs have charts and it is evident that unless Jesus Christ returns soon, the situation is bordering on dire.


THE RETURN TRIP

Dire Wolf Forest Spirit Original by Erin C Potter

Episode 176


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