Reader Rant: Cost to Live Here vs. There

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Gale writes: I’ve lived in Nicaragua (south Pacific coast) and have a 1998 Honda Civic; for about nine years, the only cost per year is for insurance, on a declining scale, which is now around $40 per year. There is no license or inspection fee.  Our electricity bill is also extremely low, even though the cost per kilowatt-hour is around 8.5. This works out to  appx. $45 per month. In remote Texas, the kWh rate is way lower – but our bill still goes from $150 to $250 per month! With no a/c!

My reply: You’re right. The main reason it costs so much to live in the Unite States isn’t the cost of utilities; it’s the cost of Uncle. My monthly power bill is about the same as yours; maybe about $20 more in the winter (gotta keep the koi from freezing). But very manageable.

My biggest expenses are: Property tax on my place (about $160/month) and the insurance-or-else I am forced to buy to “cover” my car, truck and the bikes (works out to about the same as the property tax on the house). So about $350/month in cost-to-live I shouldn’t have.

And my costs are a fraction of most people’s costs.

Even so, I am compelled to generate about twice the amount of money I’d otherwise need to live … in order to be allowed to live. It’s sickening – makes a mockery of the idea that Americans are “free.”

If you never have to stop worrying about money – no matter how modestly you live  – no matter that you’ve long ago “paid off” your home and have no debts – you cannot ever truly be free.

So, I get expating – and have given it much thought. The main reason I haven’t expated is because I’m not 25 anymore and all my friends are here. As loathsome as things have become in this country, the prospect of being a middle-aged stranger in a strange land, without friends or family, depresses the Hell out of me.

And so, I stay.

I know I will probably regret it.

. . .

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  1. Eric,

    Be glad you don’t live in the Tampa-bay area. I pay about $230 a month in insurance for an 08 Ranger and 03 Escape, and I am well north of 50 years old. My house is barely 1000sqft, and costs about $600 a year in property taxes and about $800 a year for insurance (Not bad at all). I laugh at the people I know who have to live in a McMansion and pay $3000+ in taxes plus another $3,000+ in insurance a year. I hope they enjoy paying Uncle for their status symbols.

    • Hi Rush,

      Yup. It’s damned if you do… State A has no or low income taxes, but high property tax. State B has high income (or sales) taxes but no vehicle tax. They get your money – just in different ways.

      I have found one method of avoidance. I stopped renewing the registration for one of my bikes and it seems to have dropped off their radar. Of course, I risk being Hut! Hut! Hutted! by an AGW if caught, but the odds are pretty low because the bike is ridden less than 1,000 miles each year, if that.


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