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June 17, 2006 5:05 PM   Subscribe

If you had $1600 USD/mo in after-tax income, absolutely no debt, $15K (US) in savings, and a job that allowed you to work from anywhere in the world with a net connection, where would you live?

I'm thinking about moving. I have a job (based in Boston) that I can do from anywhere in the world, as long as I can get an internet connection (wireless or otherwise) for at least 20 hours a week. I have a US passport+citizenship and Canadian citizenship (working on the passport). What cities meet the following criteria?
  • I can live comfortably (reasonably) on $1600/mo (food and rent+utils+net; nice if I could get an evening out every so often. I'm pretty frugal.)
  • Easy internet availability
  • I can get by speaking only English (I could probably pick up enough French to manage in a relatively short time, if I had to.)
  • I can access a first-world level health care system quickly and easily (this is absolutely a must-I don't plan to need it but it HAS to be there; my family has quirky biology.)
  • I can get around without a car (either walking or public-transit)
  • I am reasonably unlikely to be raped, kidnapped, or murdered (skinny white chick here)
  • Good weather. I left Boston because of the winter, so noplace with worse winters than that. Especially nice would be if there is regular sunshine, not too hot, and you can do stuff outside.
Thus far I've lived in Louisiana and Boston. I've visited NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Ottawa, and Los Angeles. My favorite thus far has probably been Ottawa (except for the weather thing) and Boston (except for the cost-of-living thing and the weather thing). I'm okay with doing a three-months-here, three-months-there transient existence for a while. I looked at this thread and there were some interesting suggestions, but I'd like to see if the hive mind can provide some ideas more applicable to my immediate situation.

Vancouver? Paris? Auckland? Toronto? Bangkok? Dublin? Syndey? London? New Orleans? Give me an itinerary, people!
posted by fuzzbean to Travel & Transportation (54 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Or.....Little Diomede (not sure if it has broadband tho.)
posted by fire&wings at 5:17 PM on June 17, 2006


I would think caribbean. Perhaps Barbados? Toronto is too $$$, and weather to wild. Safe - avoid South Africa. Australia? How about some of the channel islands? Isle of Man, or Jersey?
I suppose some of the earlier east bock coutries could also be great - Bulgeria and Hungary.

All the best!

posted by bright77blue at 5:24 PM on June 17, 2006

Dublin is very expensive . . . . are you looking for a permanent move or something temporary? Because I'm fairly sure you can't land up in Bangkok or London and live there without a visa.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:29 PM on June 17, 2006

Wow, what an enviable opportunity! Working remotely is great, but a couple things to keep in mind:

Will you need to regularly attend meetings with the team? This can be a pain if you need to do concalls frequently at 10 p.m.

Cost of living: considering you're leaving Boston because of the cost (it ranks #79 worldwide), you may want to look at this survey:
- Vancouver (#87);
- Paris (#12);
- Auckland (#69);
- Toronto (#82);
- Bangkok (#125);
- Dublin (#13);
- Sydney (#20);
- London (#3);
- New Orleans (not on list of 144 total).

This particular list (just grabbed one of the 1st ones on Google) knocks out a lot besides Canada (have heard great things about Vancouver) and Thailand (ditto).

I think it'd be cool to do a 3 months here, 3 months there, but that might end up being rather pricey with security deposits, flying around/moving stuff, figuring out the cheapest stores, etc. Maybe think about staying in a place at least 6 months?

If I had my druthers, I'd do Paris again: I lived there for a year and loved it. But I've wanted to go to the other places on your list, so... Please update us on your decision!
posted by sfkiddo at 5:33 PM on June 17, 2006

I'm loving Paris after having just been moved here by my company, but I can tell you that getting settled abroad is NOT easy. Unless you plan to live as an illegal alien or, as you've mentioned, a transient, you'll need a visa (which usually requires a company to sponsor you). Finding a longterm apartment on your own is no small feat either. The list of headaches goes on and on.

If you can afford to globetrot for a while I say go for it. You only live once, right?
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 5:35 PM on June 17, 2006

Dallas, Texas
posted by cellphone at 5:45 PM on June 17, 2006

I'm gonna say BC or Ontario. You REALLY need to learn to snowboard, and then you totally look forward to the winters.

Outside North America, Spain (Andalucia!) would be my next choice. Barcelona has an unbelievably high quality of life and in my experience the Spanish really know what's important in life.

Liking ham is a prerequisite for living in Spain.

Montreal is also a terrific choice.

After that I'd be thinking about New Zealand I think.
posted by unSane at 5:47 PM on June 17, 2006

I got some good suggestions in a similar thread. You might try this out by moving somewhere int he sunbelt of the U.S. There are tons of relatively cheap and delightfully quirky little cities--Eureka Spring, Arkansas, or Jefferson, Texas or maybe Madrid, New Mexico. You would not have public transportation though.
posted by LarryC at 5:48 PM on June 17, 2006

PS I made pretty much exactly the same kind of decision about 8 years ago. I was living in London and thinking of moving to LA but really as a writer I can live anywhere. We ended up in Toronto, and now we are moving about 2 hours out of Toronto into a rural area. So far it's been a rockin' success. Canada is a truly great place to live.
posted by unSane at 5:50 PM on June 17, 2006

Will your company get you a visa for other countries?
posted by k8t at 5:54 PM on June 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the pointers so far. This is great!

As far as the visa situation: No, my company is not helping with visas or any of that type thing. The visa issue (and tax issues, too) is why a set of three-month(ish) stints is relatively attractive.

I forgot to add Costa Rica to the list of possibilities. Any thoughts?

Or Canada, where, as a citizen, my impression is that I can show up and stay with no issues. (Have never lived there, citizen by a fluke of lucky birth timing.)
posted by fuzzbean at 6:05 PM on June 17, 2006

If the OP likes Boston a lot other than the weather I can't imagine Madrid, NM being okay. Not to mention that connectivity and phone service is an issue.

Sounds a lot like my position. I work for a Boston based company and live in Albuquerque. I've thought about moving elsewhere, but the only places I've decided I would do would be Austin or Chicago. I'd love to do Portland, OR, but the cross country flights are killer. I'd do overseas if I didn't have to be in the Boston office for a week each month.
posted by FlamingBore at 6:07 PM on June 17, 2006

There's now way you could live comfortably in Ireland of the UK on $1600/mo USD unless you don't mind living like a student.
posted by fshgrl at 6:14 PM on June 17, 2006

New Zealand. Wellington or Christchurch if you are interested in living in a "Kiwi" city; Auckland if you are looking for a more international vibe. A Canadian (part of the common wealth) passport will be more valuable than your US one for New Zealand/Australia
posted by ilikecookies at 6:18 PM on June 17, 2006

Keep in mind, in case things go south with your company, you'd want options. You might factor that in to your decision, and not move somewhere where you wouldn't have a backup plan and potential employers.

That being said, have fun. I was thinking Vancouver as I read your post.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:20 PM on June 17, 2006

I was in roughly the same situation. I moved out of Vancouver to a small town on Vancouver Island. Since I bring my employment with me, it's a great place for lifestyle reasons. Especially since we have two small children.
posted by fcain at 6:29 PM on June 17, 2006

Tofino, a town on a western peninsula of Vancouver Island, has a nice mix of culture, nice restaurants, gorgeous scenery, great weather, and very very nice people. Look into it.
posted by visual mechanic at 6:34 PM on June 17, 2006

Jenkins, Texas.
posted by bradth27 at 6:40 PM on June 17, 2006

You don't give enough information to answer this question.

Do you intend to save money, or do you intend to burn through your savings over the course of a year, or six months, or what? Are you trying to find something sustainable, or are you looking for a short-term globe-hopping cultural experience that you'll look back on when you're old?

Essentially, what are your goals and priorities? There's no way to answer this question without knowing. I mean, in your situation, I might move to a small town in Arizona for a year and do a lot of bike training, but how am I supposed to know if that appeals to you?
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:51 PM on June 17, 2006

Don't go to New Zealand if you value your internet access. Rates are very high, service is poor, and they cap your bandwidth. It costs $40 NZD for 1 GB per month.
posted by bloggboy at 6:55 PM on June 17, 2006

If you do have regular scheduled phone meetings or something of the sort, you might want to take time zone into account. Nothing like a 3 AM Monday morning conference call to start the week.
posted by winston at 7:03 PM on June 17, 2006

Thailand is nice if you find the right place. Bangkok is a bit too big and polluted for me (as well as too full of sleze, but there are lots of cool places outside. It's incredibly cheap, and there's excellent healthcare if you're willing to pay (it'll still be cheaper than the US/EU).

Switzerland is great as well, but a it expensive. Or Paris.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:18 PM on June 17, 2006

I agree with the Time Zone comment. Being within a few hours of your main conf. call time zone is incredibly helpful. In particular, being AHEAD of the time zone by a few hours means that you don't get bothered first thing in the morning and are often much better prepared for early morning calls.
posted by unSane at 7:22 PM on June 17, 2006

Morelia, MX Has a lovely, dry, climate, characteristic of the central plateau of Mexico, but still has distinct seasonality. Lovely and historic central city district, that is safe to walk at nearly any hour. Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, founded in 1511 is one of the oldest educational institutions in the hemisphere, and attracts many foriegn students for language studies. There are excellent hospitals, first rate museums and art galleries, and a large American retiree community. English is widely spoken by most business people, and there are several flights a day to international destinations, including Houston and Dallas.
posted by paulsc at 7:31 PM on June 17, 2006

Grand Forks, North Dakota. Although you might consider the winters to be on par with what you get in Boston, they're really not that bad.

The city has everything else you've listed. It's just South of Winnipeg. Beautiful area, too.

Otherwise, get a T-Mobile hotspot account, a tent, and hit up every Starbucks in the country. :)
posted by drstein at 7:44 PM on June 17, 2006

i can't believe that it costs more to live in houston than boston.
posted by brandz at 7:48 PM on June 17, 2006

bloggboy is being a touch mean about the NZ internet access situation. Things aren't ideal, you can get a $40 per month 1 GB plan if you're a fuckwit, but you can also get a 5GB plan for $10 more, and a 30 GB plan for about $70 (3.5Mbps ADSL). (All $NZ, mind, so less than it looks.)

If walking around is important to you, central Auckland miiight be okay, our public transport isn't great, and to be honest I think Wellington is better for the carless (it's a very nice but very little city) and Christchurch has quite a nice inner city as well (but the suburbs are suck).
posted by The Monkey at 7:50 PM on June 17, 2006

New Orleans. first world comforts, third world charm. still easy to live/eat/drink well and cheaply here, still has great culture, music, people, weather, and now with the added bonus now of being a place where every single person has an opportunity to really make a difference and help people put their lives back together, if you're of a mind to.
posted by ab3 at 8:05 PM on June 17, 2006

I would say Costa Rica for sure. Cheap, people are awesome, lots of internet connectivity and English spoken. I am jealous...
posted by sweetkid at 8:16 PM on June 17, 2006

Definitely Vancouver. It's a beautiful city, has good public transit, and should be easily within your means.
posted by benign at 8:35 PM on June 17, 2006

I have a strong feeling you will be moving to Vancouver. $15K is not enough to organize a move and have some left over for safety (rent, hotels, insurance etc). Also if this is your own business, remember that incomes go up and down on the internet - don't forget that next month might be a very different story to the last few months. Go somewhere you can escape home easily if you get homesick or in trouble. And somewhere they all speak a language you speak well.

Vancouver is ranked as one of the world's most livable cities (top three). I've never lived there but all indications are it is the place to go.
posted by zaebiz at 8:45 PM on June 17, 2006

Oh by the way, two years ago, I did exactly what you are thinking about doing although I had a bit more saved up and in income than you did. Can't tell you where I moved to though or you'll all come over and disturb my blissful tranquility. ;)
posted by zaebiz at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2006

Seattle or Vancouver depending on whether you want the US or Canada. As someone stuck in Boston, I envy you.

Also check the Boston/Seattle thread from a bit back.
posted by Ryvar at 8:58 PM on June 17, 2006

I've gone through this question over the past several years, being pretty much mobile and with some disposable income. It seems that for me, the formula for U.S. living has always come down to something like this:

* universities and colleges in the local area: +20 points
* manufacturing/mining economy: -10 points
* bible belt: -10 points
* big cities: -5 points (again, that's my personal taste)

For awhile we were shopping homes in the Burlington-Middlebury, Vermont area. We scoped it out in December to see it during its roughest season, and ended up really liking it. Montreal is close by. Didn't move there, though, as we started to have serious concerns about heating costs (this was when natural gas was starting to soar).
posted by rolypolyman at 9:05 PM on June 17, 2006

Montreal is a real cosmopolitan-type city, and it's super cheap to live in by NA standards. If you're considering Canada, certainly take a look.
posted by cmyr at 10:38 PM on June 17, 2006

I would say either Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. I've lived in the last two and often visited the first. Vancouver's the best as long as you can deal with rain. I'd flip a coin between Montreal and Toronto if that's out...
posted by anthill at 11:01 PM on June 17, 2006

Seattle is too expensive to live on that kind of money comfortably and I can tell you from personal experience that it kind of sucks without a car. Vancouver might be better but it's really expensive too.
posted by fshgrl at 11:05 PM on June 17, 2006

Dallas, Texas


What kind of atmosphere do you want? It think if I was in that position I'd like to just travel all over the place and see diffrent parts of the world rather then settling down.

What about Tokyo?
posted by delmoi at 11:17 PM on June 17, 2006

Wow, the cost of living in Hanoi, Vietnam is the same as San Francisco, California. According to this list. That's crazy.

And what about Amsterdam?
posted by delmoi at 11:21 PM on June 17, 2006

Melbourne, Australia is pretty good (though I am biased). Great night life, teriffic mix of people, good transport system, safe, clean.
posted by tomble at 11:48 PM on June 17, 2006

San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Foreign enough to be fun and exciting, familiar enough to be worry-free. Learn Spanish, while you're at it. It will be useful someday.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:06 AM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm in your same situation (with a bit less cash) and I can advise against going to Russia, which is what I did.
posted by fake at 12:13 AM on June 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks again for the great answers!

Ikkyu2: The goal is to live, for at least a while, on the $1600 in income. Yes, I know it's not a lot, but I have no other debts or expenses beyond keeping a roof over my head and food in my tummy. I mention the savings so that it's out there, but it's there as a last-ditch fallback "oh shit I have no cash" type thing. It's definitely not my intent to burn through it, but it'll get me a plane ticket from wherever to wherever and give me some time to get things organized in the new location if the job falls through. The current search is for a cool place for a couple of months, not necessarily permanent, though I could see staying someplace if I fell in love with it.

I have no problems living like a student. Hostels, Eurail passes, etc. Basically, all my possessions fit into two bags right now. I don't drink at all, so that's a big expense out of the way. And I have a yoga mat I can sleep on. Month-to-month leases or hostel type things are fine.

The job is one I've held for two years on-site, now a half-time off-site situation. It's pretty stable, but yes, I'm aware that at any moment I could lose it. (That's what the savings is for...)

Thanks again! These are awesome!
posted by fuzzbean at 12:19 AM on June 18, 2006

in a van with a satelite connection. Id like live a nomad, untill i finally got tired of driving around north and south america... then id move to new zealand.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 1:08 AM on June 18, 2006

My friend gets by ok on about 20% less than you make in Stockholm, Sweden. Food costs are a bitch, but housing and the like are surprisingly affordable, especially if you live in a subway-reachable suburb like Kista. As an additional bonus, no matter which way you swing, the guys and girls in Sweden are absolutely gorgeous.
posted by jedrek at 1:53 AM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

I moved to Portland, OR from Austin, TX four years ago and unwittingly (couldn't find a local job) became a telecommuter. It's turned out really well. I could afford to buy a house in a nice neighborhood with less savings than you currently have. There is good public transportation (I live right on the light rail line). Awesome parks within walking distance.

It does rain a fair amount, but the gorgeous greenery makes up for it.

My neighborhood is nice and I've located other telecommuter nearby. We are the ones walking our dogs in the middle of the day.

Skiing on Mt Hood is 90 minutes away and extended well into May this year.

I would suggest a visit. You could start here and roadtrip (or traintrip) north through Seattle and on up to Vancouver, BC.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 2:10 AM on June 18, 2006

I'd think about coming to Edinburgh, Scotland -- the weather is amazing during the summer and crap and dark during the winter, but that's it's only downside. It's a fantastic city, you can walk everywhere, there's tons of culture, a huge month-long arts festival every year, the people are hilarious and friendly, and the archicecture and history is beautiful. The health care is the British NHS, which as an American i love dearly, and it's one of the safest places I've ever been --even the bums are nice. Your $1600 US will be about £860 here, a 1-br flat is roughly £350-£450, council tax is another £100, and net is £15 or so. I lived on the same amount quite happily for years as a student.

Can you tell i'm an Edinburgh convert? It's a whole lot better than Tennessee, so i was sold immediately...
posted by ukdanae at 5:06 AM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Toulouse, France
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:39 AM on June 18, 2006

Victoria, clearly.

Close enough to Vancouver & Seattle when you want that sort of thing, and otherwise very very beautiful and very quiet. There was a thread recently on living there somewhere else on the green.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:25 AM on June 18, 2006

I'd so live on Maui. No Visa required!
posted by empyrean at 8:23 AM on June 18, 2006

I've never been there, but it seems like I keep hearing good things about Perth (usually something along the lines of "it's remote, but . . .").
Ditto Mérida, Mexico. And Caye Caulker, Belize.
I understand Hilo is relatively inexpensive by Hawaiian standards. You could take up surfing and/or vulcanology.
U.S. territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Marianas Islands could help you skirt visa problems, plus they have universities at which English is spoken (at least the ones in the Pacific do). Not sure about medical facilities off the top of my head, but it shouldn't be terribly difficult to find out.
You could probably buy a couple of houses in Buffalo these days with that kind of income.
posted by willpie at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2006

My biased choices are Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as well - I've lived in the first two. Each city has terrific, unique flavours to offer; all are very livable within your means.

Montreal has a great flavour, just a great mix of French with a dab of English (you'd get by fine) and a tight, fun urban atmosphere.

Toronto, while bigger (where I live now), is a big city full of small villages, each flavoured with an ethnicity (Polish, Ukrainian, Jamaican, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, Indian, sophisticated, simple, you name it, it's there, somewhere), or socio-political uniqueness and often a blend. Plus getting away isn't that hard to some great cottage country up north.

Vancouver, though I've never lived there (I work remotely with lots of colleagues there) offers a lot for the outdoors-y type (swim, snow-ski and hike all in the same day) and some awesome scenery - if you don't mind lots of rain.

All have top services available for all philosophies and lifestyles.
posted by iTristan at 10:04 AM on June 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Third or fourth the comments about time zones. I've lived and worked in both Bangkok and San Jose, Costa Rica, and loved them both -- but it was VERY frustrating at times dealing with being 12 hours apart from the East Coast and 15 from the West. Nothing like making important calls at 1 in the morning.

Costa Rica is beautiful and pretty cheap; I lived rather comfortably one $600 a month there (in 2002-03), internet connections are abundant and cheap, and from San Jose, you're no more than 6 hours from the Pacific or the Caribbean.

Bangkok is deceptively not cheap, by which I mean not as cheap as you would think -- thirty cent meals do exist, but so do ten dollar ones, and its easier to spend $30 a day than one might think. The pollution and heat (and the union of the two) were occasionally unbearable, but the charm is awesome, and its easy enough to get out of Bangkok ( and for that record, you could just as easily work from some of the islands). You can certainly live more cheaply than I did (which was probably in the $800-1000 a month range), but I wasn't particularly extravagant.

If I had your position -- and your position is not very different from my ambitions -- I'd look at Costa Rica, Belize (especially if you dive), and probably some other South American cities, Vancouver (I have never been, but it strikes me as an amazing meetiing place of the world's cultures), smaller cities in Spain, and China.
posted by andifsohow at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2006

Let me suggest something a little different

If you're only going to be there for a few months, Charlevoix or Petosky, MI are great places to spend the summer. They may seem like they are in the middle of nowhere but they are where all the monied people in Michigan go for the summer. This results in a real, actual small town atmosphere with a heavily populated main street where everyone goes for dinner, excellent shopping for food or anything else you might want to buy and plenty of stuff to do.

$1,600 a month would set you up very nicely, perhaps even on lake Michigan. As long as you can get there you would not need a car, though it would make things easier.
posted by 517 at 12:08 PM on August 8, 2006

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