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How To Live Like A King On A Pauper's Income

I had the opportunity this past Saturday night to see Doc Severinsen in concert. Do you remember Doc? The trumpet player and sidekick to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show? Since I started playing the trumpet at the age of 10, Doc Severinsen has been one of my heroes. He is someone I have always wanted to meet and I had my chance to do so last Saturday night. I was in the Tonight Show audience back in 1986 and saw Doc perform. I also saw him again about three years ago in Naples Florida. I was never able to actually meet and chat with him until this past weekend.

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(Doc is the flashy dresser on the left).

You're probably wondering why I am writing about Doc Severinsen in this week's blog article. It was interesting to learn that Doc has recently moved to a small town in Mexico called San Miguel.  Americans by the thousands are relocating to foreign countries. In the town that Doc lives, it is primarily made up of retired Americans and Canadians. There are many places in the world that you can live like a king on a pauper's budget. For example, in researching this article I discovered that a person could rent a four bedroom home for a week’s vacation in San Miguel for only $1500. This includes your own private cook and maid for the week! It looks like such an interesting destination, I'm considering taking a week and going there for a vacation soon.  I decided to take a look at the cost of actually buying a home in San Miguel. Among the real estate listings I discovered was a five bedroom home for $119,000 (U.S). Doc is probably living like the King of Saudi Arabia.  He probably realized that life in Southern California was way too expensive and not worth the headaches and the traffic. He packed up his suitcase of money and likely ended up with 5 to 10 times the increase in lifestyle by moving to San Miguel.

I have recently become very excited about the idea of taking advantage of some bargain living in a foreign destination. The situation I am in is somewhat unique. I can work from just about anywhere. All I need is access to the Internet and a phone line. I really don't even need a phone line since I can make and receive phone calls over my Internet connection using Skype. This is one of the reasons I am so excited about teaching people how to start their own online businesses. I can pack up my laptop computer and do my work from anywhere in the world.  My wife and I plan to travel and live in many different international locations after our children leave home. Our youngest is 14, so before too long I will be packing my bags. Interested in joining me? 

Maybe you don’t want to start your own business; would you like to find out what salary you can earn in your current profession overseas? Check out this International Salary Calculator.

According to the Global Retirement Index, the 10 cheapest places to retire in the world are as follows:

New Zealand

A new term I just learned this week is Geo-Arbitrage.  Arbitrage is a financial strategy that involves buying in one market and simultaneously selling in another. In the old days prior to computers, stock traders would make millions of dollars buying a stock on one exchange and turning around and selling it for a few pennies more per share on another. Arbitrageurs (as they are called) take advantage of the disparity in price between markets. The idea of Geo-Arbitrage, is to make money from a high paying area and then spend it in a low-cost location. If you can find a way to make money working from home, then home can be anywhere. Many people now have jobs that involve telecommuting and working strictly online. Whether it is an employment type of an arrangement or your own business (which I prefer), you can cash in by making money in the United States while living like a king in an international location.

An interesting twist on this idea, is the concept of hiring foreign freelancers to work for your small business. One individual I know hires people from the Philippines to work for him (strictly over the Internet) doing computer programming, writing, secretarial, and other projects. He is able to hire what he calls a “virtual assistant" for pennies on the dollar. A full time 40 hour per week freelancer from the Phillipines can be hired for his little as $400 per month! So, if you actually want to stay here in the United States you can still leverage yourself by hiring workers from overseas locations. I have heard examples of people having a virtual assistant write an entire e-book for $50. Other stories of complex computer programming being done for hundreds of dollars compared to what would cost thousands in the United States. I do not have a virtual assistant yet, but plan to hire at least one to three in the next several months. Before you jump to the conclusion that this is somehow exploitation, $400-$500 in United States currency is a very good income for someone in the Philippines or India.

Not Ready To Move Out Of The United States?
I fully appreciate the reality that living overseas may not be a perfect scenario. I still have a number of questions that I need answers to. Such as medical care, personal safety, property rights, political risks (governments collapsing etc.), and immigration laws. One of the ideas I have mentioned in dozens of my counseling sessions over the years is the thought of relocating to a lower-cost area of the United States. The reason I live in Florida is not solely because I love the ocean and the beautiful weather. The cost of living in some parts of Florida is amazingly low. In the community where I live, you can rent a five bedroom home just minutes from the ocean for less than $1000 a month. There is no state income tax and there are lots of low-cost places to eat and free things to do. I wonder why so many people struggle to make it financially in places like New York City and Washington DC? I guess everything is relative, if you have a very high paying job that keeps you in an expensive city that make sense to me on one level. In the current economy, I recommend to people that they put everything on the table. Why not at least consider the option of relocating to a lesser expensive area of the United States? Just like Doc Severinsen took his Southern California money and multiplied it five to ten fold by moving to Mexico, you could also do this by moving to a less expensive locale. My wife's family lives in Southern California and cannot believe how inexpensive it is to live in Florida compared to the overhead that they face each month. I continue to remind them that there is no gate blocking entrance to the Florida and they are welcome to move here whenever they like. For some reason, many people are just not willing to consider relocation no matter what.

For your consideration, here is a list of the cheapest states to live in the United States:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Texas
  3. Tennessee
  4. Arkansas
  5. Nebraska
  6. South Dakota
  7. Missouri
  8. Kansas
  9. Georgia
  10. Mississippi
  11. Michigan

Ten Most Affordable Cities With A Population Over 500,000

1. Indianapolis-Carmel, IN
2. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI
3. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
4. Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI
5. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
6. Syracuse, NY
7. Dayton, OH
8. Akron, OH
9. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH
10. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA

Ten Most Affordable Cities with a Population Under 500,000

1. Lansing-East Lansing, MI
2. Sandusky, OH
3. Lima, OH
4. Springfield, OH
5. Bay City, MI
6. Battle Creek, MI
7. Canton-Massillon, OH
8. Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, MI
9. Utica-Rome, NY
10. Binghamton, NY

Cheapest housing in USA

Market Median home price
Minot, N.D. $132,300
Killen, Texas $140,310
Arlington, Texas $140,975
Grayling, Mich. $144,250
Topeka, Kan. $148,050
Canton, Ohio $148,333
Tulsa, Okla. $148,575
Billings, Mont. $150,141
Fort Worth, Texas $151,250
Cadillac, Mich. $151,530

So, You Don’t Want To Move From Your Current Metro Area?

Many people do not consider that prices will vary greatly even within a 30 to 45 mile radius of a major metro area. Real estate prices go in cycles. There are times in some metro areas where downtown is the hot area in buying in the city will cost you top dollar. There are other periods where the more costly real estate is in outlying areas. If you have a job in a major city, get out a map and draw a circle around what you consider to be a reasonable radius for you to commute from. Make a list of the counties within your “zone” of possibility and start doing your homework. You can go online and begin researching real estate prices, you can even contact the board of realtors for each of these areas to get information on the cost of real estate. I certainly understand that there are lots of other considerations, such as the quality of schools, crime, commute time, etc. All that being said, I still think it is good stewardship and very smart living to reevaluate your location every two to three years. Whether it is a local move, hundreds of miles, or even internationally, start with an open mind and who knows what lifestyle you may be able to uncover. I have heard stories of people moving 20 or 30 miles outside of a major metro area and being able to enjoy a much nicer home, more privacy, more land, and an overall better quality of life for their family. The idea here is not necessarily about leveraging yourself to get the biggest house possible, but about establishing a lifestyle that make sense for your family. I know for me, I would much rather spend two or three hours extra each day with my wife and kids than to be sitting in traffic during a big city rush-hour.


it's all about being a good steward, right? Making the most of the money that God has blessed us with. The idea of relocating may be your best financial move yet. Don't rule out, just keep an open mind. Who knows where the road will lead you to? Doc Severinsen is not just an amazing trumpet player, but seems to be a very shrewd manager of his money as well. Maybe we can all learn from the man that is now known to the locals in San Miguel as EL Carlos (his actual first name is Carl, that is the Spanish translation).

Check Out These Other Great Websites

10 Cheapest Places To Live

8 Cheapest Places To Live

MSN’s Best Real Estate Bargains

Helping you make the most of God’s money!

James L. Paris
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