“You can live cheaper in New York City than any place in the world”

November 8, 2014 by Joshua
in Nature, Perception

“You can live cheaper in New York City than any place in the world”

A friend once said that in college in response to someone saying New York City cost a lot to live in. He may have overstated things, but I’ve found the mental model useful. It’s on my mind because I’m visiting Brazil for the first time for a friend’s wedding and we’re getting nailed at every turn for fees, taxes, and such.

I’ve been to tourists traps and I’ve been swindled and cheated as a tourist so I’m not surprised. Nor am I complaining. The money isn’t the issue. It’s the perspective. We’re on an island, Fernando de Naronha, with what some people have called the best beach in the world. When we arrived we paid a preservation tax. Then once on the island we’re paying more fees to go to certain areas, in particular the places worth seeing. Preservation of natural beauty sounds like something worth paying for. But so far on this island I’ve seen thousands of vehicles pass and a total of three of them were bicycles. Otherwise cars everywhere on an island a few miles across with beautiful weather most of the year. People who live here don’t seem to walk or bike. Visitors rent dune buggies that are loud and smelly. I guess it will take years for this place to convert to solar power despite being near the equator.

I’d prefer they called the fee a supply-and-demand fee instead of a preservation fee. I know what sets prices.

While writing this post, I picked up two pieces of plastic that fell off the table of people next to me at this cafe. Fruit and vegetables are hard to find, as I expected before coming to Brazil. The markets only have sugary cereals, breads, beverages besides water, and such. The internet is so slow and spotty that an email can take an hour to send.

I’m already here, so my strategy is not to complain, but to figure out how to have the best time I can, and I don’t doubt I’ll have yet another time of my life before I leave. I can’t help but reinforce how I keep finding travel overrated and learning more about the place you’re in underrated. People talk about how expensive New York City is, but I can spend less living there than many other places. People talk about the beauty of beaches, grand canyons, and such, but I doubt many of them could tell you much about the trees in their own neighborhoods. Or they talk about the cultures of the world without knowing the backgrounds of people who live near them or the wisdoms they’ve learned.

I’ll see how things change after I’ve gotten to see some of the sites. Maybe I’ll get to swim with dolphins and see fluorescent colored fish.

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