One of the most compelling reasons to move out of the Western world is to save massive amounts of cash by living in a new country where the quality of life is comparable to your home country, but where the cost of living is radically lower.
We Westerners often forget, or don’t realize, that the US, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia are some of the most expensive places on Earth to live. By the way, this is true even if you don’t count the high tax rates in those countries. When I say “cost of living,” I mean strictly that, your average monthly costs for things like housing, food, entertainment, transportation, healthcare and lifestyle, irrelevant of taxes. Taxes is an entirely different conversation (though the West is the highest taxed area to live in too, and yet another reason to get the hell out).
One of my favorite websites is Expatistan.com, where you can find all kinds of very cool cost of living calculators. You can input your home city, input any other city on Earth, and get a detailed comparison on just about every typical expense you can think of.
If you’re curious, here are the 10 most expensive cities in the world based on its datasets:
Nine out of ten are in the West. Yup. (And why the hell is Switzerland so expensive? Jesus you guys!)
It also has a good cost of living world map displayed at the top of this article, but you can use the interactive version here. As you can see, the cheapest places to live are, well, everywhere other than the West, including South America, Central America, Mexico, Russia, Africa, India, and some parts of SE Asia.
Eastern Europe is also very cheap, though as I’ve explained before, that’s still part of the West and thus headed for a socialist suicide. If you’re a younger guy (as in under the age of 35) and want to live in Eastern Europe for a few years to bang some hot babes, then go for it. But if you want to permanently move there to plant your final flag, you’re either delusional or need to do some more research.
I live in Washington State, but the closest major city to my home is Portland, Oregon. Using that for my basis, I compared the overall cost of living to the five cities on my short list of places to move to in 2025. Here are the figures:
Overall Cost of Living Change As Compared to Portland, Oregon
Hong Kong: +27%
Buenos Aires: -45%
Asunción, Paraguay looks to be the cheapest, but there was a warning on the site saying that this was based on sparse data (unlike the other cities which had a complete dataset). Asunción would be the most third world option in my top five cities, and I’m not sure I’d be happy living there 8-9 months a year. (On the other hand, if I traveled a lot, which I would, perhaps I’d like the peaceful break when I was home. Not sure. It’s a difficult decision.)
As expected, my beloved Hong Kong is ridiculously expensive, being one of the most expensive cities on Earth. I don’t live extravagantly but I’m still sure to take some kind of hit if I lived there permanently. Montevideo, Uruguay is also surprisingly expensive compared to the other southern South American cities I’m looking at, and it also has the highest crime rate (including murder rate) of these cities, by far. The more information I uncover, the less attractive Montevideo looks to me.
That leaves Santiago and Buenos Aires. Both very attractive, though I keep leaning more towards Buenos Aires. I haven’t made any decisions yet, since over the next few years I’m going to spend a lot of time in both cities.
One important note about your cost of living. Outside of debt, your average, projected monthly cost of living is going to rely mostly on one thing: your family and relationship situation.
If you’re married with two kids (or plan on getting married and having kids later in life), your cost of living, obviously, is going to be way higher than if you’re a single guy. But even you non-dads need to be careful. If you have no kids but have a wife, or even a serious or live-in girlfriend, again, your cost of living is going to be higher, at least a little bit. And no, it doesn’t matter if she has a job or her own income. Unless you’re dating a rich sugar momma who’s 20 years older than you, a female companion (wife, girlfriend, OLTR, whatever) costs money. Just trust me on this. (And the more money you make, the more likely this will be true.)
So if you plan on moving out of the country several years down the road like I do, you’ll need to guess if you’ll be in a pair-bonded relationship and/or if you’ll have kids at that time (or shortly after), and adjust the numbers accordingly. The odds are very high that I will have some kind of girlfriend/OLTR in 2025, so I’m budgeting accordingly. (You’ll also have to plan out international logistics like a 2nd passport for her.)
Take a good look at Expatistan.com and play around with it. It will offer hours of nerdy fun, as will other cost of living calculators.