My Wife Thinks I’m Crazy…
All politics are local, the old saying goes. I might add, so too are everyday expenses.
My wife recently tagged along as I visited the dentist for a toothache. There was drilling involved. A needle. Some grinding. Some back-filing and polishing. And a seven-day prescription of antibiotics handed to me by the dentist as I was leaving.
Total cost: 1,200 Czech crowns, or just over $50.
“That was kind of expensive. In Russia, it’s so much less,” my Russian wife offered as we left the building.
“Maybe I should take you to the dentist in L.A. [where I last lived] and let you pay for the same procedure in cash, without insurance,” I replied.
She looked at me funny. She didn’t get it.
If you know, you know.
In the U.S., that same simple procedure would easily cost several hundred dollars. Maybe more. Even with insurance, co-pays and deductibles alone mean you’re likely looking at more than $500 for the procedure and the antibiotics.
I’ve lived in Prague now for more than three years and, frankly, some of the financial benefits of life abroad sail right over my head. I’m so accustomed to local costs that I don’t really think in comparative terms like I did when I first moved here.
But now that my wife has finally joined me after obtaining her visa, I’m forced to think about costs again. She and I regularly shop together and she is always stopping and pondering. I notice the look on her face and I instantly know she’s doing math in her head.
Invariably she puts the item back, looks up at me, then moves on, shaking her head. I look at the price, and I think, “hmmm. That’s actually kinda cheap.” I laugh some more. She looks at me and smiles a smile that says, “You don’t know what it was like in Russia in the ’90s!”
And we move on…
It does have me thinking though about just how affordable my life has become because of this relocation to Central Europe. At the time it happened, I was eager for a lower cost of living. As I’ve mentioned in previous dispatches, I got divorced several years ago—a very expensive purchase, by the way. Then I went back to school at UCLA to learn screenwriting, a near-lifelong passion.
I don’t need to tell you that L.A. is an expensive place to live, but I will tell you that L.A. is an expensive place to live!
Combined, those two events set off a dirty bomb inside my personal finances.
I saw moving to Prague not only as a fantastic change of life and lifestyle, I saw it as a huge opportunity to begin rebuilding my savings and to starting contributing again to my suddenly half-sized retirement account.
And you know what…good decision, Jeff!
My savings and my retirement accounts have both grown massively. I’ve been able to siphon money away to stick into crypto investments without causing sleepless nights, worried about a financial emergency.
Those crypto investments in turn have been, well…I won’t even hype it. If you regularly read these dispatches, you’ll know how well I’ve done from investing in crypto.
In all, trading my American life for a life overseas has been a win-win-win-win-win.
Not only is the healthcare cheaper, so are the groceries, and the meals away from home (Yulia and I this week had schnitzel with garlic-bacon green beans from a pub near the apartment and the combined price was the equivalent of $9.04).
We take the subway and the tram everywhere we want to go in Prague. Cost: about $160 for a year-long pass for each of us. I mean, the average car payment in America is nearly $570 for a new car and about $400 for a used car.
I’m spending $320 for an entire year’s worth of transportation for two people. And that’s not even counting car insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. that my American friends are paying.
I could go on, but why foment jealousy?
My point is simple: The sooner you start to process the idea of relocating your life overseas, the sooner you can begin not only simplifying your life, but reducing your cost of living sharply, allowing you to save more for later in life, and live more comfortably in the here and now.
If only I can convince Yuliya that the equivalent of $1.28 for half a pound of butter really isn’t that pricey.
She just looks at me and shakes her head at how crazy-expensive it all is.
I’m laughing as type that…