Can I priceline a hotel room for an entire year?
February 11, 2010 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Let's say I wanted to disappear for a year to work on a personal project. Where would I go to make it as cheap as possible?

I have a few prototype projects that I'd like to work on. Just humoring myself, how much would it cost to me to disappear for a year to work on them? I currently live in a place that's too expensive.

I would need good, reliable internet access. I'd also need decent access to groceries (or cheap food), a small studio place with the basic utilities, and decent security and access to heath care.

Where would I go? How much would it cost for the year? And, if outside of the US, how would I manage such a thing like visas, etc?
posted by TheOtherSide to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
How about moving back with family for a year?
posted by rus at 3:28 PM on February 11, 2010

The thought occurs to me that, in some ways, your question overlaps with questions about where to retire--i.e., you're talking about living on a fixed income, good health care, etc. You might give this list a gander, for a start. Would you have a car? How do you feel about seasons?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:28 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh boy I love these questions.

Let's start with rust-belt America. A small studio with basic utilities in an OK neighborhood will run ~$400/month. Food, if you know how to cook for yourself cheaply, will run $150/month. Internet access will be $50/month. You will have good access to the ER but anything else will be pretty much completely out of reach.

That's $600/month or $7,200/year and gives you a pretty good baseline to compare more exotic locals. If you allocate $1,000 for r/t airfare your expatriate life will need to cost less than $6,200/year or $516/month to be cost competitive.
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:34 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Costa Rica would be a great place for this. You'll get to live among friendly people, have access to cheap food, get reliable internet access and stretch your dollar much further. You wouldn't need a visa -- Just take a weekend trip out of the country (to Nicaragua for example) every three months.

Bonus: plenty of outdoor activities.
posted by special-k at 3:37 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lots and lots and lots of places give US passport holders 90 days visa-free entry (though the Schengen zone counts as a single area and only allows 90 days in every 180).

You could pair a couple of places like this that were nearby, like Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. Canada and Mexico also offer 180 days a piece.
posted by mdonley at 4:06 PM on February 11, 2010

If it's a creative project, apply for a residency. Frequently free, frequently international.
posted by xo at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2010

South Dakota is the quintessential flyover state and would be a good place to go to hide for a while. I'm familiar with the eastern side of the state, particularly Sioux Falls. The cost of living here is cheap, internet access is easy to get and usually blazing fast and we have health care here that would be the envy of many other cities. Some facts and numbers.

(Full disclosure: I work for the company that operates that website I didn't design it and I am updating it with new numbers tomorrow, which made me think of it when answering this question)
posted by bristolcat at 4:28 PM on February 11, 2010

You could go to Thailand - even without some kind of fancy (student, working, retirement) visa you can stay for almost a year with only 'visa runs' every 3 months.

I've been granted multiple entry 60 day tourist visas: 3 entries is the most I've ever applied for; I imagine the limit is 4 entries but I don't know.

Fly into Thailand and stay for 60 days, then go to the Immigration Dept and ask for a 30 day extension & pay another B1,900.

After those 30 days are up you must leave the country. I fly to Kuala Lumpur, eat lunch and fly back in the afternoon. When I get back to Thailand the second 60 days of the visa is invoked... and start the process again.

The cost of living in Bangkok isn't high and will depend most on which area you liked and wanted to stay in. The cheapest apartments in Bangkok won't be ideal for foreigners. Living outside Bangkok as a lone foreigner might be a bit difficult, I don't know I've never really even seriously considered it.

The cheapest studio I've seen in Bangkok that's set up for foreigners was B8-9,000 ($250-$300) per month - that's still in the centre of town ie. you could walk to the largest shopping mall (MBK) in Bangkok. Memail me and I'll give you the contact details for this apartment block if you choose to look into it. I've rented a one bedroom for 18months in the same block though and been very happy.

Food you could get by eating from street stalls/food courts for about B150 ($5) per day. That would be eating only Thai food and drinking mainly water with your meals - spending a bit more per day would mean you could expand the variety.

Buying the ingredients and cooking yourself I don't believe is cheaper in Thailand and in most Thai studio apartments I think they won't want you cooking anyway - maybe a microwave will be OK, but not a hob.

I've found the internet connections OK, maybe B700 ($22) per month for 2 meg. The internet is becoming much more popular there so things will improve. But 2 meg was the fastest I was offered when I last moved.

So I suppose basic monthly expenses of something like this: B9,000 rent, B700 internet, B800 electric, B200 water, B5,000 food. Which is B15,700 / 32 = $490 + entertainment + shopping + having some days at the beach every couple of weeks.

Health care may be a problem, I found it very difficult to get health insurance when I last enquired. Not impossible, but the amounts I was quoted were huge: from memory I think it was something like $750 for 6 months: I gave up and trusted to luck after that.
posted by selton at 4:43 PM on February 11, 2010 [6 favorites]

Philippines! Bonus is that most people in that country speak English. You can hire staff--everyone from laundry women and housecleaners to biochemists and engineers--for LOTS less than in the US. Weather is great (if you like hot), many areas have good internet, rentals are cheap, outlying rentals are even cheaper, food is cheap, and when you need some down time, there are awesome beaches everywhere. Same as above with the visa situation, you may need to leave the country occassionally--Hong Kong is close--to get your passport stamped.
posted by MsKim at 4:50 PM on February 11, 2010

Siem Reap is cheap. A guesthouse room- showers, internet etc.- can be had for between $7 and $20 a night, depending. The $20 rooms are really friggin' nice. Meals are about $3. The area is kind of quiet and beautiful and cozy. Would have do a Visa run every 90 days, but. Beaches aren't far, either.
posted by GilloD at 5:24 PM on February 11, 2010

Of course, you could travel by commercial shipping vessels and that could be part of the escape. People would have a mighty hard time finding you while you're on a ship.

Travel by commercial shipping vessel can be expensive, there is nothing to do while your stuck on the boat and I'm sure that I'd get seasick. Better to fly.
posted by dantodd at 7:07 PM on February 11, 2010

bristolcat is right about SD, but there's more to see & do West River!
posted by SamanthaK at 7:49 PM on February 11, 2010

Consider Houghton, MI. It's a college town on Lake Superior in the UP. Beautiful in the summer, snowy in the winter so you can concentrate on work. It's farm country, so food is very cheap. And because it's a very depressed area, you could easily rent a spacious, good quality house for $300 a month.
posted by miyabo at 7:20 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe cheapest would be getting paid to house sit?
posted by xammerboy at 1:59 PM on February 12, 2010

I live in Pittsburgh. It's cheap here, as it's a rust-belt city that supports much less than it's peak population. If you live in the poorest neighborhoods, houses under $20k aren't unheard of. That said, $400-500 month for rent is pretty typical.

The city also has a relatively large host of creative types, so you can find easy support for whatever your project may be.

The medical system here is amazing.

$10k would be pretty easy to make a year here. ($5k rent, $2500 utilities for the year, $2500 food.)
posted by talldean at 12:49 PM on February 15, 2010

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