Cheapest Place in the World to Live is the US

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“Things have changed so much,” said a colleague yesterday. “We’ve been telling readers that they could live so much more cheaply overseas. But now, about the cheapest place in the world to live is the US…”

We spent Sunday with the publisher of International Living magazine.

“Prices have fallen so much in Florida that you really get more for your money there than practically anywhere else,” she continued.

“I think Florida may be cheaper than Buenos Aires,” added son Will, who’s been living in Argentina for the last three years.

Housing is cheap in the United States. In Texas and Arkansas, housing is probably the best bargain on the planet. Food prices are going up; still food in the US is much cheaper than it is in Europe. And cars? We have a friend in Paris who goes back to the US to buy his Mercedes. Even with the cost of shipping the car back to France…and the cost of refitting the car to European standards…he still saves about $10,000.

“I was just in Paris,” Will continued. “You pay $10 for a cup of coffee and a croissant. In Florida, I can get the ‘Breakfast Special’ for $5.95…and it has everything. Pancakes. Bacon… Everything.”

“But what is amazing,” continued our International Living colleague, “is that interest in moving overseas is going up. It’s not about money. Apparently, a lot of Americans are just fed up…or afraid. They want to get out. They see taxes going up or they see the society going down the tubes. I don’t know. But many say they just don’t like the way things are going.

“One thing I hear is that they think American society has become meaner…ruder…less civil. You can’t have a polite discussion of politics anymore. People get really upset and nasty. I mean, someone yelled out and called Obama a liar in the middle of a joint session of Congress. And a substantial part of the US population regards the guy – the guy who called him a liar – as a hero. They think Obama is a traitor…

“I think this is really a result of the financial downturn. People feel betrayed. Let down. They think something is very wrong. That the nation is in decline. So they look for someone to blame. And they tend to blame each other. Conservatives blame liberals. Liberals blame conservatives. They blame the bankers. They blame the capitalists. They blame the government.

“I guess that’s what happens when you get a major correction or a big financial crisis.”

We recalled what happened in Germany in the ’20s and ’30s:

“Germany was probably the most civilized country in the world – before WWI. Artists, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, musicians… Germany had the best in the world. The war shook the public’s faith in its leaders. But then, according to people who lived through the period, the financial crises of the ’20s and ’30s were worse. Hyperinflation…depression…strikes…a decade of financial chaos and disruptions led to a breakdown in social order. By the early thirties, groups of communists and fascists were battling in the streets. People seemed to leave the center and move to extreme positions. Soon, the Nazis had the upper hand and Hitler was voted into the government.”

Until tomorrow,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
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Comments

  1. The people of America _know_ something is very wrong, and that they have woken up rather late. Thing is, America is not Germany before WWI (nor can it achieve what Germany did before WWII – in all fairness just look at what they achieved before the war started – the Germans went into it being clearly superior to the Brits).

    America has been going into a decline with regards to scientific research since the 80’s, and more so now because the old scientists are dying out. The current ‘intelligentsia’ of the US is not at all meritocratic, and therefore is not as intelligent is that which exists in Europe, for example. So the future prospects for a spontaneous US resurgence are not looking flash. The decision makers in the US have been so corrupt as to allow (and personally profit from) crucial aspects of US’s intellectual property to be exported to China and other nations, in the form of outsourcing of manufacturing.

    As you say, though, America will undergo a transformation, whereby its creditors will pick the next leadership (as occurred in Germany after WWI). If a totalitarian regime is necessary to get the US back on its feet and profitable, then so be it. The Chinese couldn’t care less for the human rights of US citizens. It was the Nazi party for Germany, but what will it be for America?

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  2. I’m British and I assure you Dan that no Brit will ever agree to your comment ‘the Germans went into it being clearly superior to the Brits’.

    Please explain on what basis you make this statement. Personally I think it is unsubstantiatable hyperbole, but I am prepared to be corrected.

    I believe prior to World War 1, (or Wubble-ya Wubble-ya Eye for Americans and don’t you just love how all inclusive Al-Queda were in conducting the London tube and bus bombing on the 7th July just so the American’s couldn’t get confused about the significant date … 9/11 indeed) that the British were still operating an Empire. Sure it was in decline as it was gradually evolving into the CommonWealth, but, Empire none the less. Did Germany have an Empire?

    The thing about Britain and Germany is that they are so very similar and both nations have achieved and contributed so much to modern living that the rest of the World (combined) pales by comparison. However, to place Germany ahead of Britain at the epoche to the first World war, is in my opinion, wrong.

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  3. I was referring to World War 2, actually.

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  4. I see Godwin’s law is in full effect already.

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  5. So before Wubble-ya Wubble-ya Eye Eye Germany was superior to Britain.
    Then how come Germany did not defeat Britain. How come Germany were frightened about confronting Britain. How come Britain could build its’ arms and military machinery inside 2 years to combat what Hitler and the German people had been building for years?
    On either count Dan, I still need convincing. My Daughter’s boyfiend (her first) is German (God forbid) and I don’t think even he would agree with you. (He is actually a really nice lad, and my experience of finding my family and I in a German hotel during a last minute cheap package holiday to Majorca some years ago was uplifting. Naturally hairs stood on end as our predicament was realised, yet, a more inclusive and sociable people I am yet to meet). I have always thought that Germany and Britain have been very similar and very proud nations. But one bettering the other, I don’t get that (appart from of course 2 World Wars and 1 World Cup as a current score-line).

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  6. You win, brc. And there was I thinking that I would get away with it!

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  7. brc.

    I was unaware of Godwin’s law. Just wiki’d it and am now startlingly informed.

    Have I been dupped ? Is Dan leading me in some higher intellect interweb baiting game ?

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  8. Joe, you don’t need to agree with me, and I don’t need to convince you, but here you go anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_during_World_War_II.

    Back to topic, I stand by my point – the US is not going into the mire with the kind of cultural and intellectual assets that would give a US citizen confidence in the future. The fact people are waking up is a sign of hope (though not Obama’s Hope(TM)), but it will eventually require a radical change to the current situation, the complete opposite of what we are seeing, with a shift back to sound economic and social principles.

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  9. Dan,

    “the Germans went into it being clearly superior to the Brits” is a general statement and your link implies only a military superiority.
    This was obviously likely to be the case considering the re-armament initiatives undertaken at Hitler’s direction.
    There are many ways to measure superiority, and as this is generally an economic journal, I doubt very much that Germany was economically superior to Britain prior to WW2. Germany was heavily endebted because this was the only way it could manage to put its’ nation back to work from the early 30’s hyper-inflation.
    Your argument is like saying that candle light is far superior to torch light because we’ve had candles for centuries, but only torch lights for decades.

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  10. The economic superiority question of WWII is a complicated, involved but interesting area of history. Read about it and draw your own conclusions. Whatever they end up being, it really does bring a new perspective on current events. It matters not that Americans have dollars now, numbering in their squillions. The winners of the next conflict will determine who pays whom. Except, at the moment, there is no conflict.

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  11. england v germany = I would rather drive a german car than a british [and I have had 3 british cars – rovers and landrovers = eccentric designbut not built to last] german workers are some of the most productive in the work even being one of the highest paid – I have worked for 2 british companies and without a shadow of doubt they are the laziest workers of any country I have worked for – that is australian, american, german, japanese, english and chinese.

    and then lets not talk about the soccer – no contest but really bugs me is the english attitude on superiority [most nations have some of it] but they still refer to australia and the colonies

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  12. Rag,

    That last point would be legitimate if Australia didn’t consider itself and act like a colony. More a 53rd State these days than an external English county, but, nonetheless Australia ties itself to mother nation skirt strings.

    Can’t dispute the Engineering excellence of German cars, and will happily agree they are superior to British cars (not that there are many left now). I would not be so stereotypical Dan as to claim all British people are lazy. This is not my experience which if I were asked to explain the divergence in attitudes between Australian and British workers, is that Australian’s own nothing, it is always someone elses problem, where as Brits will own and seek to resolve problems.

    This is true in all aspects of Australian society.

    An example.

    My missus just lost access to two years of Government super co-contributions because between our accountants, her employers H.R/Payroll department, and US, it was (apparently) our responsibility to know which type (pre or post tax) contributions were to be made even though both our accountants and the H.R/Payroll department were instructed as to the reason (the co-contributions) behind her wish to sacrifice into her super.

    No sense of joined up thinking here only of attempting to exhaust the minimum amount of effort for the maximum gain and sod the needs of the customer. A very U.S capitalist attitude and not a recipe for success.
    As you can imagine my Accountants chances of retaining my business are squat.

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  13. Fair enough, Joe. But you made me think a lot about your point about superiority on economic terms. Let’s ask the question about today. Which economy is ‘superior’, the US or the collective economies of the EU, or the UK, or China, or the Asian region? I think the answer is not at all obvious.

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  14. The current ‘intelligentsia’ of the US is not at all meritocratic, and therefore is not as intelligent is that which exists in Europe, for example.

    This has got to be the most misleading statement of a cadre of rubbish. The europeans are still much more class-oriented in both political appointees and business leaders. Granted, world economic opportunities are leveling the playing field, but it is Indian and Chinese scientists, not European ones, applying for more patents.

    Massachusetts, as a state, despite the downturn, churned out more patents in 2008 than did the United Kingdom. Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota churned out as many as Germany.

    Market forces are an amazing thing. Mr Obama will prove once and for all that socialism is not the answer – this time to an entire generation of college-indoctrinated (oops, educated)young Americans.

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  15. “As you can imagine my Accountants chances of retaining my business are squat.” Joe, 25/09/09.
    Sorry to learn of your negative experiences with accountants, Joe. Had we followed our two FAs’ advice we’d be many hundreds of thousands of dollars behind. We had to ‘let both go’ well before the crash. As I’ve said earlier, we only made real progress by creating our own list of questions… and researching for ourselves… testing the ‘answers’ as we progressed. Too many times we entrust advisors to determine what’s ‘best for us’ (as opposed to what’s ‘best for them’.) It’s all about OPM. Sadly, _no-one_ cares as much about your own money as you do… .

    Biker Pete, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    September 29, 2009
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  16. Biker Pete I couldn’t agree with you more. I would go further and say that in many cases the term “Financial Planner/Advisor” is almost misleading and a better term would be “Financial Product Salesperson” or maybe “Financial Sales Agent”?

    Greg Atkinson
    September 29, 2009
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  17. Jake, registering for patents is just one measure of innovation and research.
    Much of the activity is frivolous and it can be more related to financial motivations than the undelying rate of innovations.
    Still the current trends are interesting.

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  18. Richo: “registering for patents is just one measure of innovation and research”

    Good point. Perhaps patents growth actually points more towards the level of ‘speculation’ or available capital in that region?

    And the fact that you can patent a lot of things (many that may not even require innovation?) may say more about the convoluted and litigious US legal system than it does about innovation.

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  19. Probably FSA, Greg. Discovering the extent of trailing commissions on super was enough of a shock, but the huge commissions for ‘recommended’ agroforestry schemes might constitute criminal conduct, particularly where advisors themselves bailed just days before those schemes went under… . Ignorance of clients’ specific financial options indicates lack of care, but wilfully withholding critical information from those clients to feather one’s own nest is unethical and unsustainable. Glad we dispensed with both these F A s. (And the initials do not stand for Financial Advisor, in this instance…. ) ;)

    Biker Pete, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    September 29, 2009
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  20. Joe, go read Bood, Tears, and Folly.

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  21. Is this a turning of the social tide ?? The “dumbing down and the fattening up” of America has been going on too long., (Is this you ?). The sinking Dollar will allow US manufacturing to strengthen; and a new generation to look about it at what has become of that great land and its’ energetic people. The keen eyed will find new opportunities; Be one of them; If you’re smart enough., We are one humanity., Only our skills are different….

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  22. When someone writes an article he/she keeps the thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user can understand
    it. Thus that’s why this article is amazing. Thanks!

    Reply

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