Coming from Puerto Rico, a place that many view as paradise, I always wondered why Americans were so infatuated with the idea of sitting at the beach sipping margaritas as a vacation. Furthermore a lot of americans view this as a privilege only for the rich or those on retirement, when in actuality there are millions of people in the Dominican republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaice and the rest of the islands who are able to shift into and out of this reality whenever they want..
When a lot of people think Caribbean they think Virgin islands or sometimes even Bahamas (not caribbean!!!) and yes, If you look at these places properties can be expensive and so can food and drink. I once had a 34 dollar burger in Antigua. But in reality, its not that expensive to live down here as long as you stay away from these super famous, super ritzy places. Take for example Puerto Rico. If you really want to step away from the world you can live in Cheap parts like the South west of the island, where there are beautiful beaches, tons of good food and drink, all for probably 1/3 to 1/4 of the price it costs to live in any Major city in the US. If you are form Europe you could probably find a way to live in parts of southern Cuba that are even cheaper!
While I don't really plan on going back to Puerto Rico for any extended period of time, mostly cause of I've been there a long time, know most of it, job opportunities are slim, and there are other places I want to see, It is hard to deny how awesome it was to just call up a friend, stop by a supermarket and be at a great Tropical beach with beer within 30 minutes. After living in the U.S. for a while I realize how ridiculous the whole thing was. Great beaches where only 15 minutes away from my house and AMAZING beaches such as this one only 30 minutes from where I lived. And unlike a place like say, Hawaii, this was all very affordable.
You could probably do all this for even cheaper in Dominican republic, or for the same price and live in more luxury.
But this post isn't just about tropical living not being that expensive, its about just about everything not being that expensive. in the Four hour work week Tim Ferris writes about geo-arbritage and dreamlining, the process of really outlining the costs and steps associated with any given goal. In the process he uncovers how if one really makes it clear how much something costs and what has to be done, it is much easier to see the true cost. In Geo-arbritage He underscores who if one has the freedom of time and place, they can easily pick the best deals.
For example, A lot of people like to travel Europe in the summer, but that is the most expensive season to go. If you want to go in Fall it is substantially cheaper. I'm talking half off or more sometimes in flight and accommodation costs, and sometimes maybe even transport. I've seen insane deals like LAX to Copenhagen for 500$ round trip! (Using the Kayak Alerts system trick). one time I spent new years in Barcelona with a friend and stayed a four star hotel for 80 euros a night, divided by two that's 40 euros per person for a four star! On top of that People were much more relaxed as their were less tourists and it wasnt ridiculously hot, Barcelona usually stays at a solid 45-60 degrees in winter.
Ultimately what I want to convey is that a lot of things aren't that expensive if you really look them up, use a couple of tricks or too, and think outside the box. Staying a month or two in Puerto Rico or DR is substantially cheaper than staying going to some virgin islands, or god forbid Hawaii (ridiculously beautiful, but insanely expensive). Travelling in off seasons can save you over 50% to popular places like europe or Asia, and if you absolutely want to go to a specific event (Running of the bulls, oktoberfest, or Cherry blossoms) Buying a ticket for the week before if you can might be better, Or just buying a ticket a year in advance if you really want to go to a specific event. Other cool things I've learned that aren't that expensive if you re flexible.
* Rent: if you are bit flexible with whom you live you can easily find subleasing deals instead of starting a lease on your own. I've found that I can save 30%+ on rent by finding people desperate to sublease because they have to leave for whatever reason. Usually with subleasing you get the added benefit of less time with the lease as well, so you can be flexible faster. Nothing is worse than being tied down to a lease all year.
* Cars: Another case where you can save a lot if you are willing to wait and be patient. I've seen multiple same year or one year old cars go for sale with less than 10k miles. When people need to liquidate pronto. In some cases if you only need a car for a couple of weeks and don't care what you get you can buy and older car and use it then resell it. I've had tons of friends do this and they just divide the difference between the people they roadtripped with and sell it really cheap to liquidate it. It ends up being way cheaper than renting.
Computer Parts: I do almost all my computer parts shopping on black Monday, when you can literally get insane deals online. If you have a PC its very easy to overclock cheaper CPUs to what extremely expensive ones run at if you just buy a good heatsink and fan, which usually costs round 40-60 bucks. Similar things can be said for Graphics card with good heatsinks. Also signing up for deals on Newegg and amazon can sometimes alert you to amazing stuff. I've had great success with getting monitors 30%+ off through these deals.
Books: I haven't tested this one myself, and I don't really use it cause i like having constant access, but one my friends noticed that you can buy a book and return it within one week on kindle. so if you are a fast reader and want to exploit this I guess its possible.
Adventure sports/experiences. Bar-non I've found Groupon to give you the absolute best deals on this. I've had friends go skydiving for 70 dollars or less with groupon deals. Anything that involves a short adventure like white water rafting, paragliding, etc. etc. can become very cheap through groupon deals.
Restuarants: Very hard to hack for the most part. Sometimes restaurant might participate in some sort of cheap tasting menu, but I've found these to be subpar and not a good representation of what the restaurants food is supposed to be like. Sometimes there are good groupon deals, but they can be incredibly stringent with how much and what you can eat. Ultimately the best I've seen is go to restaurants right after lunch. 2:30- 6:00 area I've seen a lot of places offer great deals. (Mo-chica in LA gives 20% off 2:30-5:00) A lot of very expensive places will give good discounts during this time. Also if their is a particular restaurant you like or want to go to, sign up for their newsletter, occasionally they have specials or incredible deals. For the most part though, Restuarants at the mid-top to top end are incredibly hard if not impossible to hack because they are constantly full and have rows of people willing to straight up pay. Lunch and the Post Lunch lull,if the restaurant remains open, continues to remain the best bet.