Book Review:
A Better Life for Half the Price
Author: Tim Leffel

Reviewed by:  Roy Stevenson, www.PitchTravelWrite.com

Well-published travel writer and author, Tim Leffel, has just released an eBook of significant value to anyone looking for a way to live a good life for less money.

His eBook, ‘A Better Life for Half the Price’ hit the virtual bookshelves in mid-August 2014.  It explains why many Americans, as they approach retirement with inadequate financial reserves, can no longer afford to live in their own country. 

But the book isn’t just aimed Americans or retirees - it’s meant for anyone looking for a place to live well for less money.

According to Leffel, with costs rising faster than wages in first-world nations, if we want to maintain our standard of living, one viable alternative is to move to a country where prices are significantly less.

But the big question is, where can one go to live a better life, as the book suggests, for half the price?

Leffel’s 278-page book delves deeply into a number of countries he has visited with this question in mind. A Better Life for Half the Price presents Leffel’s take on eighteen countries as potential residences.

These countries are sprinkled around the globe.  They include places already well populated with expats like Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, and Thailand.  Others like Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Nepal are more remote or closer to an expat’s equivalent of the Wild West, but are emerging as livable countries as they develop.

Argentina, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Bulgaria, Portugal and Malaysia round off the list of countries where the cost of living remains low (often ridiculously so) in comparison to the average American cost of living.

Leffel details the many reasons that it’s getting tougher and tougher to keep up your standard of living, and why it’s cheaper to live in any of these countries.  Everything from food and utilities to medical costs can be drastically reduced in these places.  And he details the multitude of other reasons you might want to live in another country, beyond lower costs.

He covers topics like “Are You Cut Out for the Expat Life?” and the importance of trying it out before you commit.  He points out in very clear terms some of the downsides to living abroad as well as giving some pointers on how to adapt in a new environment and culture.

And he details the pros and cons with living in each place, along with housing costs, health care costs, food, and transportation.  He shares stories from expats living in each place and gives some basic information about visas. 

All in all, it’s enough to get you started and excited about making a move.

A book review wouldn't be complete on this site without saying why this eBook is of interest to travel writers and freelance writers.

I can think of two good reasons if you’re adventurous and love to travel:

1.  Most writers I know fund their life from other sources rather than writing.  Most writers start out writing in their spare time, while working a day job.  Or they have a spouse with a day job that pays the bills.

So, if you’ve dreamed of ditching your full-time job, living in a less expensive place may help you achieve that dream.  Living in these countries will reduce your living expense significantly so you can work full-time as a freelancer while getting your writing career established.

Leffel tells me that there are loads of writers who have ditched the high-priced living in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and settled down in places with more reasonable living costs.  He says he runs into them in almost every place in Mexico that he visits, for example.

And he lists a number of other virtual jobs, besides writing, that are portable, leaving you free to live anywhere you want to live.

2.  Even if you have no intention of leaving your home country, the book provides a great source of information about countries that travel writers can visit and tour cheaply.  For enterprising travel writers this equates to spending a longer time in these countries and selling more travel stories.

You can eat, sleep, and tour your way around developing or third world nations for a fraction of what it costs for the same services in first-world countries.

For example, my wife and I spent several weeks in Ecuador a few years ago, and paid $9/day for a large, furnished, perfectly comfortable room in a beautiful house with other Spanish language immersion students.  We ate mostly like the locals, so our meals were a smidgeon of what we would have paid in Seattle.  And we traveled like the locals, taking a bus to several different parts of the country (costing $1 per hour of travel) and having a blast!

This sort of cheap living and traveling warms the heart of travel writers around the globe.  You can live well and find your wallet still packs a punch at the end of the day!  (Leffel also has another eBook “World’s Cheapest Destinations” aimed at short-term travelers.)

The information about the cost of longer-term stays, dining out expenses, and general cost of living in these countries provide travel writers with an excellent insight into what to expect when you visit - especially if you don’t want to travel the same way as tourists paying tourist prices. 

A friend of ours recently visited Thailand for a month and came back with a beautiful new haircut.  Her cost?  $6.  When we were in Ecuador we shopped for groceries and walked out of the store with 2 large bags full of food for less than $20.  Who knows, once you get a glimpse into the rewards of the expat life, you might decide to become one.

If you think you might enjoy living overseas but don’t know where to begin, A Better Life for Half the Price is a good place to start.  At the time of this writing it is available in eBook format for $22.  For more details, go to Leffel’s website: www.cheaplivingabroad.com/.


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