Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Cheapest Place to Live

Now that we have concluded our list of the Best Places to Live as published by International Living in their annual 2010 Quality of Life Index, I thought it would be fun to look at each of these countries and explore the Cheapest Place to Live in each spot.

So, if money and cheap living is top on your list as you are asking, Where Should I Live? Than this new study will be of particular interest to you.

So over the next few weeks, oops maybe it's best not to promise anything too quick - this could take me months! Anyhow, in due time and over time I'm going to research the Cheapest Places to Live in each of the Top 25 Best Places to Live list. But instead of starting at the bottom I think I will start at the top of the list.

So, watch for the Cheapest Place to Live in France in my first post of this series. Actually I will probably name more than one so it's more like The Cheapest Places to Live in France!

Followed by -

The Cheapest Place to Live in Australia
The Cheapest Place to Live in Switzerland

The Cheapest Place to Live in Germany 
The Cheapest Place to Live in New Zealand...

I'm sure you get the idea! So, wtcah for it, read it, comment and let's try to answer that question... "Where Should I live?"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top 25 Countries for Quality of Life

As a recap and epilogue to our count down I just wanted to share this extended list of the Best Places to Live in the World.

The Top 25 Best Places to Live

1. France
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. Germany
5. New Zealand
6. Luxembourg
7. US
8. Belgium
9. Canada
10. Italy
11. Netherlands
12. Norway
13. Austria
14. Liechtenstein
15. Malta
16. Denmark
17. Spain
18. Finland
19. Uruguay
20. Hungary
21. Portugal
22. Lithuania
23. Andorra
24. Czech Republic
25. Great Britain

Next we will shift gears and return to our quest of finding the Cheapest Places to Live while trying to answer that age old question, 'Where should I live?"

The Best Place to Live in the World!

If you have been asking yourself the question, "Where should I live?' the 2010 Quality of Life Index of the Best Places to Live in the World may be a good place to start.

For the past few weeks I've been blogging about the Top 10 Best Places to Live list which is published each year by International Living. (Oh, and hope I didn't offend anyone with that Blond Joke yesterday. It gave me such a laugh so I just had to share it!) Now the Best Place to Live is not necessarily the Cheapest Place to Live however, one of the factors that makes up the Quality of Life index is certainly cost of living.

Forgive me I digress and ramble!

Back to the Best Place to Live and the winner is....France.

France is the Best Place to Live!

Once again France takes top spot as IL's pick for the best place to live. In fact France has held the top spot on the Quality of Life Index for the past five years.

Sure France has a high tax rate and a huge government bureaucracy which can have you running around in frustration for what seems like eternity BUT there are so many other positives that out weigh and create an 'Unsurpassed Quality of Life'.

Let's start with what many consider to be the world's Best Health Care system and finish with a longer lingering dinner with the finest wines in the world. Croissants, Cabernet and Notre Dame are just a few of my favourite things! Don't forget fine French cuisine, poetry and the infamous romance of Paris or the French countryside. The lavender of Provence is so beautiful and fragrant that the enter town smells like a lovely sachet. It is nothing like the best cities to live in in Florida and they are not like France but to each their own right?

So many things to mention you really need to read a book or better still tour France and take it all in.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

and Now for Something Completely Different!

This just arrived in my mail box. It gave me such a chuckle I just had to share!


A  man was in his front yard mowing grass when his attractive blonde  female neighbor came out of the house and went straight to the  mailbox.

She  opened it then slammed it shut and stormed back in the house.

A  little later she came out of her house again went to the mail box  and again,   opened it, slammed it shut again. Angrily, back into  the house she went.

As  the man was getting ready to edge the lawn, here she came out  again, marched to the mail box, opened it and then slammed it  closed harder than ever .

Puzzled  by her actions the man asked her, "Is something wrong?" 

To which she replied, "There certainly is!" 

Are you ready? This is a beauty...

"My  stupid computer keeps saying, YOU'VE GOT MAIL!"

Best Places to Live in the World - #2 Australia

The 'down-under' garners second place in the 2010 Quality of Life Index as published by International Living Magazine and for good reason, it's safe, wealthy, healthy and offers numerous opportunities for work and play.

Australia is truly a world away from the United States. Due to it's proximity to the rapidly growing and consuming populations of the Asian countries the Australian economy has been largely insulated from the economic downturn in America and Europe.

Australia boasts one of the nicest climates in the world plus a varied and interesting ecology that gives it's inhabitants beautiful beaches, for fun and sun; amazing wilderness for challenge and exploration; the great barrier reef for diving and undersea adventure; and of course a rich a diverse cosmopolitan life in Sydney and Melbourne making them some of the Best Cities in the World to live in.

Although the cost of living in Australia major cities is quite low it would certainly not be considered one of the Cheapest Places to Live.

Australia is an English speaking country with excellent health care and  infrastructure. With China and Asia experiencing major growth spurts Australia offers excellent employment opportunities to service those needs in a culture and society where many North Americans will feel right at home. All of this adds up to making Australia the 2nd Best Place to Live in the World.

Not the Cheapest Places to Live

Best is not Cheapest

Just a quick comment and reply to some of the comments I have been receiving regarding my count down list of the Top 10 Best Places to Live in the World. I realize these are not the Cheapest Places to Live, in fact some of them could be considered down right expensive! That said and as I've said many times before, what makes for a Cheap Place to Live is not always in the initial face value of what one first sees. For example, housing may be expensive but taxes and other costs of living may be really low making for a cheap place to live.

What Makes for a Cheap Place to Live?

Don't forget to add up all of your costs of living before you decide what is the Cheapest Place for you. For example, you may be able to buy a house in Sioux Falls South Dakota for $10,000 but how much will you earn there? What if you can't get a job there? Now maybe finding a Cheap Place to Live for you is not work related. Maybe you're retired. Well again what are the other costs of living. The house may be cheap but it gets cold in Souix Falls so you will need to heat it. And what about keeping you warm? Cold weather can add significantly to other costs of living. Think hot drinks, hot food and of course plenty of clothes to keep you warm.

Where Should I Live?

A great question and one we will continue to examine in depth in our search for the ideal Cheap Place to Live! If one had teaching credentials you could examine teaching jobs overseas for Americans and that would open up a whole list of places where one could possibly live but without in-depth review of each, mistakes would be likely so we will persist in our quest.

Best Place to Live

Now, back to our count down because isn't quality of life what we are really all after? In the same view that Money doesn't bring happiness saving money and Living Cheap doesn't bring it either!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The World's Most Liveable City

I recently had the opportunity to fly through Vancouver Interantional Airport - YVR. I was really in awe of the grand, modern and beautiful airport. It's high tech, sparkling clean and that is contrasted by huge displays of native Canadian Art in some cases hanging three stories tall. It got me thinking about the Best Places to Live in the World, which I have been blogging about for the past few weeks. This got me setting a new goal, once I finish my top 10 list of course, and that is to begin exploring the Best Cities in the World. Which then reminded me of something I had read about a few months ago.

I read that The Economist voted the City of Vancouver - in beautiful British Columbia Canada - the most Liveable City on the planet. What a perfect place to start! My home country of Canada was ranked 9th on the Best Places to Live - 2010 Quality of Life Index - so perhaps Vancouver is one of the Best Cities to Live in Canada? Some certainly think so.

Now 'The Economist' is not another one of those travel or touching feeling editorial magazines. It bases it's judgements on solid research, facts with weights and measures of what truly is 'liveable'. They look seriously at the standards of health care, culture, environment and infrastructure to name a few. On my brief stop in the city I could see why Vancouver one top spot 7 times!

The Times says, "Vancouver is the city that has it all!" Some even claim it has the Best Chinese Food in the World!

Of course many will have the opportunity to rate Vancouver for themselves either by visiting or watching closely on TV as the city hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Top 3 Best Places to Live in the World

I took a break for a little while and I believe we left off discussing Germany as the 4th Best Place to Live in the World followed closely by New Zealand, Luxembourg and the United States in the International Living Quality of Living Index for 2010.

Now on to the Top 3 Best Places to Live!

In position three is Switzerland. The Swiss are known for many things including perfect clocks and watches and one of my favorite Swiss things - Swiss Cheese!

Switzerland is an award winnning, super efficient, high tech country that still manages to take time out to play. Think hiking, mountain climbing, Alpine skiing and if nothing else just laying back in awe of the beautiful scenery including what many consider to be some of the most beautiful people in the world.

Switzerland much like Canada, except maybe even more so, is known as a muli-cultural, international  - global village. Rather than having just one spoken language in Switzerland you will find five different ones including English, German, French and Italian. The Swiss chose to be multi-lingual so foreigners can feel at home. That also makes it atractive for foreigners to call Switzerland home!

Also known as a peace loving neutral country that is home to Geneva, the United Nations and the Red Cross why wouldn't one be drawn to live in Switzerland!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Best Places to Live continued!

Hey! I've been on the road and so I will be finishing up the big count down of the Best Places to to Live as soon as I get back. In the mean time please keep leaving those comments. I'll continue to review International Living's 2010 Quality of Life Index outlling the best places to live in thwe world soon.

Thanks for follwing the blog - back soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #4 Germany

We're into the home stretch now of our review of the Best Places to Live in the World as compiled by International Living in their 2010 Quality of Life Index and in position number four...

Germany is listed as the 4th Best Place to Live in the World. Who woulda thunk it!

It's interesting to note that exmilitary Americans are the ones who often return to Germany for retirement. Some consider it one of the Best Places to Retire.

If you're into the classics you will love Germany. Remember Germany gave us Beethoven and some of the finest classical music ever composed. Those headbangers out there will also want mentioned the German heavy metal scene. Germany is also known for outstanding theatre, opera and fine art.

As the index says, in Germany everything works and wrosk well! Think Mercedes and images of the finest craftmanship come to mind.

Parks, health spas and beaches make Germany one of the most nature friendly countries in the world too. So, whether your into hiking, bird watching, skiing or any other spoprt to mention you will find a home in Germnay.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #5 New Zealand

Moving across the globe from Luxembourg as the 6th Best Places to Live in the World we go down under to New Zealand in 5th Place of the Quality of Living Index for the Best Places to Live in the World.

New Zealand is an English speaking country and boasts some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes found in the world. Did you see Lord of the Rings? Well most of those wonderous mountain scenes were shot in New Zealand. This small country is often compared to Canada in its position of having a larger dominate neighbour in Austrailian - much like the U.S. is to Canada.

One of the key measures of Quality of Living in New Zealand is the uber low crime rate - the police still don't even carry guns!

Clean air, family friendly, wide open spaces and an excellent health care system all add up to one heck of a place to live and raise a family.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #6 Luxembourg

OK, I know I have been counting down the Best Places to Live list daily but today I had a little more time so I thought I would throw up #6 - Luxembourg.

Many have heard of this place but know very little about it. Luxembourg is in fact one of the richest countries in the world!

If fine dinning is your idea of Quality of Life you can't beat this place! According to International Living it probably has the highest density of top rated restaurants in the world.

Luxembourg was the founding member of the European Union and it's a very small country - just 51 miles long and 35 miles wide. Just proves you don't have to be big to be one of the best especially when you consider the size of this place to Canada or the United States who are huge but lower on our list. Funny, Luxembourg could fit inside some of Canada's and the United States cities!

The population is a scant 420,000 people of which 1/3 where born elsewhere. Luxembourg is still ruled by a 'Grand Duke' which is quite appropriate given the medival look to the homes and castles with turrets, bridges and flower filled squares.

Luxembourg has one offical language but is really multi lingual as 60% of the work force are foreigners. In position #6 on our list of the Best Places to Live in the World Luxembourg also is known for high finance, asset protection and as a tax haven.

Best Places to Live in the World - #7 United States

Just above Belgium on the 2010 Quality of Life Index for the Best Places to Live in the World is...

The United States! As the International Living Magazine photo caption says, Its hard not to beat the day to day ease one enjoys while living in the U.S.

Talk about diversity - from the oustere beauty of mountainous, and often snow covered, Alaska to the dazzling high rise condominiums lining Floridas Palm treed beaches to 'Big Sky' Montana and Big City Lights New York - the U.S. has it all!

The United States has also become known as the place where you can have it all and get it all - the land of convenience. Sometimes admitedly too convenient! Just look at some of those bellies and butts at Walmart!

The U.S. is safe, comfortable and the cost of living is as diverse as the landscape. You will find the Cheapest Places to Live and also some of the world's most Expensive Places to Live on the planet. You will see obscene displays of wealth and extreme examples of poverty.

Speed, convenience and efficiency are the hallmarks of the American lifestyle chased by thousands of immigrants each year but it seems just as many native Americans are coming to realize the frenetic pace of living has its price and many are opting for a tranquilo lifestyle abroad.

Watch for a more detailed discussion on places to live in U.S.A. as we look further and in particular at the cheapest places in the U.S.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #8 Belgium

Yesterday I talked about my home land, Canada the 9th Best Place to Live in the World as ranked on the International Living Quality of Life Index for 2010.

Today we move to Belgium as the 8th Best Place to Live in the World.

Brussels, Belgium is home to NATO and the European Union (the EU). It has been a merchant city since medival times and is made up of Flemish speaking people in Flanders and French speaking people in Wallonia. Brussels is the capital of Belgium and is probably the best known city.  The homes in Belgium are easily recognized for their gable roof tops.

With the EU and NATO headquartered here Brussels is quite the multi-cultural mecca with thousands of foreign workers. It's also know as the 'Greenest Capital' with beautiful parks full of flower gardens.

The huge expat population has created a diverse multi-cultural landscape robust with english movies, theatre and sports events. The public transportation system is excellent and a great way to get around to famous brew pubs as well as the numerous ethnic restaurants and eateries. London, Paris and Amsterdam are a short ride away on state of the art trains.

Once we try and answer that age old question, 'Where should I live?' we will drill down further into each country to examine the best places. Watch for our future discussion on the 'Top Places to Live in Belgium'. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #9 Canada

Yesterday I gave you the low down on the 10th Best Place to Live in the World - Italy. Today we're moving up one notch on the list to explore my home country, Canada which earns 9th place on International Livings Quality of Life Index for the Top 10 Best Places to Live in the World.

Those of us who have travelled from Coast to Coast in the wonderful land realize not only the immense size of our country - second largest in the world taking a week to drive across - but also the incredible beauty of this land.

The standard of living in Canada including free national health care for all makes Canada one of the most desireable places in the world to live.

A vast base of natural resources from oil to water and a strong, regulated banking sector have allowed Canada to weather the current economic storm very well indeed. Consistently increasing values make Canada one of the Best Places to Invest in Real Estate.

Four seasons of fun keep Canadians moving be it water skiing or hiking in the summer to some of the best downhill alpine skiing destinations in the world. Sports, theatre and a wide variety of cultural events provide entertainment to the rather small population scattered across this vast land.

Canadians are known for their hospitality and law abiding nature making Canada one of the safest places to live. A multi-cultural philosophy vs the US style melting pot helps Canada maintain many of the traditions from it's European ancestry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Best Places to Live in the World - #10 Italy

Beginning at the end - Italy garners position #10 on the International Living Quality of Life Index for the Top 10 Best Places to Live in the World.

Rome, Venice, Florence - mountains surrounded by prestine lakes - beaches of gold and picturesq villages with cobble stone streets. Welcome to Itlay!

Did you know Italy boasts 60% of the world's most treasured art and the World Health Organization ranked Italy's Health Care system #2 in the world? What esle makes Italy so special and worthy of being named the 10th best place on the planet to live? How about some of the world's best vineyards, opera, espresso coffee, pizza and ice cream?

Down sides - Italy can be expensive especially in popular big cities of Northern Italy; unemployment tends to run high and incomes are lower than found in North America. Striking workers are common place while corruption and bueracratic red tape makes waiting in line and simply waiting a common Italian pastime.

The Italian weather is thought by many to be idylic with short, mild winters and hot long summers. And if you venture south or out into the countryside and away from those 'popular' tourist zones housing is affordable and the cost of living reasonable.

All this gives Italy a rank of tenth for Quality of Life and one of the Top Best Places to Live in the World.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cleanest Places in the World

I've been blogging about International Living's Quality of Life Index which highlights the Best Places to Live in the world. This years guide is a terrific read with lots of little interesting tid-bits of informaiton. This week I'm going to share in more detail some specifics about each country which made the Top 10 list of the Best Places to Live. Today I thought I would just share a little of my leisurly Sunday morning read. This headline caught my eye -

The World's Cleanest Countries

Hum, now reading all about the best countries for living it certainly fits to get one thinking about cleanliness. Afterall, I think most of us would agree cleanliness is a pretty important factor when it comes to Quality of Life - at least I would hope so!

Much to my surprise some of the cleanest countries in the world are in Latin America. Yup, Costa Rica ranked 5th cleanest and Columbia go the #7 spot. So, where does the good ole' U.S.A. end up - sorry to say the U.S. is 39th on the list. Pretty sad comment really and I'm sure by now you are thinking, enough already who got spot #1? And the award for the cleanest country in the world goes to...

It's probably no big surprsie that Switzerland is the cleanest country in the world.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best Place to Live in Canada

With International Living's Quality of Life Index out this past week and Canada coming in on the Top 10 Best Places to Live list it got me thinking about where the Best Place in Canada to live might be.

Well, I'm going to throw this out there - I'm currently living in Canada and I think my current home town, Victoria British Columbia is probably the best place to live. Now I'm basing that on a few factors, 1st the climate is amazing. It's January and the temperature is already 10 degree celcius today. We rarely get snow and my little neighbour actually has Palm Trees - not just a couple of ornamental ones but over 3,000 big beautiful Palm trees! The lawns have lovely gree grass all year round and we even have beautiful flowers in bloom year round. What else makes Victoria the best place to live in Canada? The stunning beauty of the mountains framed against the ocean. Great restaurants - the most per capita in all of North America I've heard; the symphony; great theatre; shopping and of coourse the wonderful, friednly people.

Now like any city there are some negatives. Victoria is on Vancouver Island and as an island community we do tend to pay more for many things. Gas, food and homes are all pretty expensive. And the employment sitation is not so great. I would have to admit that financially secure retires are probably best suited to calling Victoria their best place to live in Canada.

Just thought I would throw these thoughts out there on a sunny Saturday morning!

Friday, January 8, 2010

France earns Top Spot as Best Place to Live

Yesterday I blogged about the Top Ten Places to Live in the world and in particular the #6 through #10 places. Today we get the second have of the Top Ten and the winner is...

International Living's Quality of Life Index puts France in the #1 spot now for the 5th year!

This is the 30th year IL Magazine has published its popular index. This year they say once again that the French know how to live life to the fullest while countries like England and America simply don't get it - they're overworked, over weight and out of touch with what 'Quality of Life' really means.

Australia was ranked 2nd place while Britain comes in as a big loser infact Britain was ranked below the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Uruguay!

So what are the key things that make France the Best Place to Live? Well IL says the French have everything from the beautiful French Riviera to fabulous skiing and to top it all off they have the best health care system in the world. Add in long luxurious lunches, top notch restaurants and some, if not THE, best wines in the world.

All while England suffers from poor climate, high crime rates, an obnoxiously high cost of living, traffic congestion and overcrowding.

Here are the top of the top best places to live in the world:
#5 New Zealand
#4 Germany
#3 Switzerland
#2 Australia
and #1 France.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top Ten Places to Live

Shelter Offshore just released its review of International Livings '2010 Quality of Life Index' with the Top Ten Places to Live Abroad. This is the first part of a two part article which explores the bottom five of the top 10 in the index and what its like to be an expat living abroad in Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, Canada and America (meaning the U.S. as Shelter Offshore is a British offering). By the way while I'm talking about the UK it's interesting to note that the UK has fallen to position 25 in the International Living Index of the most desireable (livable) place in the world.

Italy continues to hold the #10 spot from last year as International Living points out, "Italians know how to live well!"

Is Canada the best place in the world to live? Nope the index puts Canada in ninth spot basically due to the snowy, cold winters in most of the country.

Belgium picks up 8th place followed by the United States at positon #7. Of course Detroit wasn't mentioned even though it may well be the Cheapest Place to Invest in Real Estate right now!

Luxemburg tops the bottom half of the top ten list at #6 as a "fascinating, historic, beautiful and very stable country."

It will be interesting to see who tops the list and if there is any mention of the Cheapest Places to Live or the Best Place to Retire as there has been in previous indices. Be sure to follow along if your searching for a good place to live!

Technorati Tags: cheapest places to live, best place to live, Top 10 Places to Live Abroad

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Detroit Cheapest - Hong Kong, not so much!

Well it looks like Detroit may very well earn the 2009  title as the 'Cheapest Place to Live'. What with homes being sold for as little as one dollar - thanks mainly to the near collapse of the North American auto industry. But on the other side of the world it seems the opposite has been happening. Forbes recently reported that Hong Kong broke the world record for the most expensive real estate in the world when a duplex apartment sold for 56 million dollars! What is also interesting is that in Asia rental rates in most cities have continued to rise despite the world wide economic downturn. When you compare renting to income in Asian countries purchasing an apartment is now more expensive than it was before this financial crisis started.

It will be interesting to see if either of these spots garner any attention in the 2010 Top Places to Live Abroad Index published every year by International Living.

For a very interesting and detailed account check out Forbes Hana Alberts article about the Most Expensive Places to live in Asia. Source: Forbes