Tripbase received an email from a friend recently: “I’m sorry to say I got laid off this week,” he wrote. Our friend explained that the company he worked for needed to trim 300,000 US dollars from its budget, and his position was one of many that were eliminated. “HR and I signed some paperwork,” he said, “and that was that.”
“I’m not overly upset,” he continued, saying that his wife and he have been wanting to leave Alaska, where they’ve been living for two years, for quite a while. “That’s suddenly a lot simpler,” he said. “It will take about two weeks to wrap up loose ends around here, and then we’re going to visit friends and family for awhile. We want to see loved ones and decide where to live.”
Sure, they won’t be paying for hotels, but it got all of us at Tripbase thinking about travel destinations with low overhead costs… places we could take a time out from the recession and size up our lives from afar.
I thought immediately of another friend of mine, a writer. He spends the school year teaching, but every summer, he sublets his places and heads to India to spend the summer vacation writing. Yes, the plane ticket is pricey, but the overhead is so low in India, he swears he saves money this way (and gains material, as well).
Sitting out the recession, or at least part of it, in India doesn’t seem like an awful idea to me. Why? Let’s do some quick math here. Bear with me…
Rent varies wildly throughout the United States, but just for the sake of argument, let’s assume an average of 1000 US dollars a month of rent, including electricity, water, cable, and internet. Of course there are other living expenses, too, such as gas and food, so let’s knock that average up just a bit to 1400 US dollars. Six months would cost you somewhere in the ballpark of 8400 dollars.
Now let’s compare that to the cost of spending six months in India.
Let’s assume that you’re paying ten dollars a day for your room (and this is estimating high– we’ve paid half of that in hostels in India). That’s roughly 300 dollars a month in overhead costs. What about food? Let’s budget something outrageous for India… let’s say 200 dollars a month. For 500 dollars a month, or 3000 dollars for half a year, you’re living in India! Even figuring in a plane ticket, you’re coming out ahead of what you’d be paying in the States or Europe.
OK, we know this idea isn’t for everyone. We know that some people have mortgages and families and can’t just pick up and run to India. But if you do have the flexibility and you want to take a breath before plunging back into the less-than-stellar job market, why not spend 6 months on the subcontinent, rather than 6 months sitting at home while the economy is stagnant?
Some other interesting travel destinations where we could stretch the dollar or Euro came to mind… one of us lived in Alexandria, Egypt for part of a summer and paid about ten dollars a week for a small room in a shared apartment. What about retreating to Egypt? Morocco? Thailand? Laos? Vietnam? Central America? Certain areas in South America are quite affordable, too…