“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.”
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