Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Back to the drawing board

Well we have just come back from the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

It is NOT the oasis of cheap living I dreamed it would be.

Eating and drinking out is mostly about the same price as here in England. I say mostly, some things are cheaper, but overall things cost the same. Take a trip to the supermarket, there you will find that most items are up to THREE times more expensive than over here. Yes THREE. I went to a few supermarkets just to check that there wasn't one supermarket for tourists and one for the locals, but nope the locals were shopping with the tourists and the expats in the same place.

After a little bit of online digging around I found that the official inflation rate in recent times has been about 12%. There has clearly been a time of hyperinflation in the area.

I just cant fathom how the locals live with this cost of living.

We enjoyed our time and the people are lovely warm people. The outdoors are spectacular, both DH and I enjoyed hiking through the mountains.

With that cost of living I don't think we could live there, every time we went to buy something I worried about how much it was going to costs. Housing costs would be a lot cheaper, but if we are spending up to three times as much on food as we are here and worrying about the cost of going out to eat then, its simply not worth the hassle.

I think a lot of expats are using the high interest rates that Turkish banks will pay on savings deposits. Most of them are paying around 10%. I believe that this is how expats are partly funding their retirement. But I consider this to be a risky move given the instability of the economy and the rampant inflation.

Sigh, back to the drawing board.


Alice said...

sorry to hear it wasn't all you hoped for... maybe you just have to pick a place and go for it though? or travel around a few areas to see what stands out. Costs are going up everywhere, but we found that once we went on the road our spending habits completely changed. You naturally become a lot more resourceful... I think you need to get yourselves a camper and just drive :-)

Anna said...

Very interesting to know this: thanks for posting. I just don't know whether to leave and go travelling around for a few months (which entails us waiting for OH to stop work) or have a series of trips to likely places to live (which always works out so very expensive). What do you think you'll do?

Alice - interesting perspective.

Dreamer said...

Hi Alice, Im really in a quandry with it all now, i thought of cyprus because of the year round climate, we still might give south cyprus a go for a few months, I cant think of anywhere else in europe with the mild climate in the winter, the plan is to escape in autumn. We've thought of a camper,and i really fancy it but where do you go in a camper in the winter? What did you do in the winter, did you stay in spain? The thing is I really want to put a stick in the ground somewhere and stay somewhere for a while, im tired from the rat race and I wonder whether I have the energy to keep moving to keep searching.

Anna - we were thinking the same thing. When we leave the urban jungle in the autumn i thought of renting somwhere nice in the countryside in devon by the sea for a little while, to just rest and breathe and then go on trips frmo there, but as you say I think this an expensive option. Maybe buying a camper is far more practical but I dont know how we would manage in the winter in europe.

Anna said...

Dreamer - yes, we thought the same! Leaving the NW and going somewhere like Brighton for a breathing space before deciding what to do. At least OH can still commute up North to work. But I don't want to spend so uch money on five day exploratory trips to European places that seem to cost almost 1,000k :-(
(We prefer to travel on the trains which are more expensive than plane fare; and accomodation is outrageously expensive.) I am wondering whether to just pick a city/ town abroad and rent a place there for 3 months or so, then use that as a base to go and see other places...

Dreamer said...

Anna it sounds like we are trying to escape from the same area :)

DH and I seem to move from one idea to another with nothing concrete! At the moment the plan is there is no plan lol! I think im just scared of wandering around aimlessley spending lots of money. If it were spring or summer we could go camping long term in spain and portugal as we plan to do next april. But not feasable in winter I think? Feel free to e mail me and we can chat more.

Do you have a blog?

Alice said...

dreamer - I have the perfect answer for you!!! off to find your email address now :-)

Anonymous said...

@Alice: why not post it here so we can all see? :)

@Dreamer: There are very few places left in Europe that could be considered "cheap" - and it depends how you define that. Islands which are popular with tourists (and even Northern Cyprus has a fair few) are unlikely to be "cheap". There are plenty of places with a great year round climate though - for example - Madeira is pretty good all year round, but it's not "cheap". There is always a cost to import food into such islands, whereas locally grown produce tends to be cheaper. UK is an island, but it's a bit different here, we have a huge population (by comparison), and economies of scale, and factory farming methods, and cheap immigrant labour, highly competitive supermarkets etc. etc.

There are still places in Asia that are comparatively cheap. e.g. Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia. But even there things are getting more expensive, as the GBP has been trashed by quantitative easing, and policies designed to encourage consumers to borrow and spend e.g. low bank base rate. Also, the Asian economies are growing fast, leading to inflation, higher prices, but also higher standards of living as consumers aspire to western products and designer labels. Still, I reckon a couple could probably have a good life in Asia for around £1,000 GBP a month. That would give a higher quality of life than in the UK.

There are also places in South America such as Equador that are relatively cheap. But you'd need to explore and research to find what you are looking for.

If you confine your search to Europe I think your best bet would be somewhere like rural Portugal, perhaps the Alentejo region. But rural anywhere has its downsides - are you really looking for that?

Agree with previous comments. I've looked into moving down to South West of England and to be honest it's actually more expensive that where I'm living now in Hampshire. Prices have gone through the roof down there, and rent is expensive too. The cheapest locations I found in UK were places any sane person would not want to leave. North Wales and parts of Scotland were interesting though - but the atrocious weather is not something I could have coped with long term.

All I can say is I wish you the best of luck with your search - it's not easy but it will be worth it in the end.

Alice said...

LOL Tony ... I emailed 9-5 about mindmyhouse.com and also workaway.info ... both great ways to experience other places and get a feel before committing and also a cheap way ie: you work in return for board :-) :-)

Dreamer said...

Hi Alice - I've read your e mail and responded :)

Hi Tony, these are wise words, you are so right. Having had some time to think, if I was just concerned with finances it would probably be cheaper for me to live in the UK as opposed to a lot of places in europe which I had in mind.

We are still thinking about having a base in Devon, i've had a look on rightmove at the sort of rental prices and it does seem that we could get something for £500 - £600 per month, so cheaper but not by a great deal than what we pay now, but, at least there we would have easy access to the countryside and the sea.

But do I even need a house? We could do with somewhere to sit out the winter without it costing us loads of money.

But Alice came up with a really great idea, housesitting and/or working for accomodation and food. We are really interested in housesitting, the only slight reservation I have is that in some circumstances it appears that you have to come up with a security deposit and pay utilities which, I just feel with the larger properties you may be risking a bit of money. I suppose this would be subject to negotiation though.

Anonymous said...

Alice: oh they look cool, thanks for that - I just didn't want to miss out on cool tips for helping with this thorny issue! :)

Dreamer: Interesting point and I've grappled with that myself. I even went as far as looking into mobile homes. Was promising. But most seem to cater either for holidaymakers, or people who are really in dire straits. My brother lives near a farmer who would allow me to put a second-hand caravan on his land at next to no rent, but I haven't quite got to that point yet! Nice to know the option is there.

I think some enterprising person could make a killing here - there just isn't a great supply of reasonable cheap, short-term accommodation. In SEA there is almost an infinite supply of it - everything from beach huts, right up to luxury serviced apartments. We seem to have few options like that here in the UK. That sucks! :)

I'm impressed you seem to have found something at reasonable rent down in the West country. It's beautiful down there - but I'm still a bit twitchy about it as last time I went to Cornwall it rained the entire week, and that was in August. If you get the weather you can't beat it though.

Dreamer said...

Tony, I can relate. If I lived in the US I would just buy an RV and live in that and base in calif/arizona etc warm climate end of story. Very difficult to do that here and europe year round. We thought of doing that anyway but then you have imigration issues in the US, ie 3 month time limit for stay etc. Canada you can stay 6 months as a tourist but then you dont get the climate - arghh.

Short term accomodation - I know there isnt anything is there? Who wants to sign a six month lease on a house all the time?

Anna said...

The rental sector in the UK is dire. We stupidly signed a 12-month lease on this house (to get a lower rent) and a few months in - we hate it! And that 'lower rent' is £975 per month. Our mortgage wasn't that much! We really want 3 months not 6 or 12... And the council tax and bills can be huge. Renting here has worked out badly for us.

I thought of house sitting but I am not sure we want to go that route. I read on one site that you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get registered and then stay at the home a lot of the time (I suppose that's logical) and we don't like taking care of pets. I house sat for someone casually some years ago and it was a really stressful experience (cats and a hurricane...) Maybe I'll take another look though.

Dreamer - I don't have a blog but will email you when I get back from California (!) in three weeks.

Anna said...

@Tony -- we rented a cottage in Cornwall one August (hundreds of pounds, of course) and it was so damp, rainy and foggy that we packed up early and left. I'd been extolling the virtues of the gorgeous Cornish scenery and my husband (who'd never been there before) couldn't even see the sea from the cliff!

Rick and Pat said...

try Portugal, central Portugal, not Arganil Gois areas they are too near the mountains for mild weather but near to us is much better, Figueiro Dos Vinhos, Serta, etc
I'd even do you a work placement...

Dreamer said...

ooh Rick and Pat, very interesting, we plan to be in Portugal/Spain next spring, we should keep in touch. Thanks :)