Liam loves a spreadsheet and a bit of research. He’s at his most content when fiddling with his formulas and colour coding his columns. I set him a challenge. I wanted to know the price differential for living our kind of life in Blighty, Spain and Turkey. Having worked out our major expenses – food, booze, travel to Blighty, rent, bills, healthcare etc, Liam set about the task with gusto and usual thoroughness. The analysis is remarkably detailed and the results are not at all what we expected.
Based on our spend in Turkey
We would spend a third more living in the UK than in Turkey (in the southeast of England, outside London). This is mostly due to higher rent levels.
Our average weekly grocery shop would be cheaper in the UK than in Turkey
Our average grocery shop would be cheaper still in Spain
Overall, we would spend a fifth less if we lived in Spain
These are headlines only and many factors are variable. Nevertheless, it makes an interesting read. What makes the most difference to our fiscal health is our income. As we don’t work we depend on our investments. British and Eurozone interest rates are negligible so we would have to supplement our income somehow, leading to an obvious and unpalatable conclusion. However, rates won’t remain low forever.
Of course, we don’t live in Turkey on cost grounds alone and we don’t intend to move on any time soon. We’ll keep an eye on it though. We don’t know where our doddering dotage will take us.
Just like the Queen, I no longer carry money. Liam has assumed the role of central banker and keeper of the petty cash. Consequently, I know the value of everything but the cost of nothing. Three months into our Anatolian adventure Liam felt a fiscal review was due. He prepared the figures with his usual due diligence supported by a complex multi-coloured, multi-linked spreadsheet. After all, he had been the Excel Queen in his previous life. It was all there, spend, income, projections – our financial world laid bare. Liam plugged the laptop into the TV and I knew it was going to be a long night. I uncorked a bottle.
Interest rates continue to slide which is potentially calamitous for us as we rely on investments to keep us afloat. Fortuitously, Liam has moved some of our stash into mutual funds and this gone some way to ameliorate our plight, but we are still eating into our capital. As Liam eloquently demonstrated, our budget deficit is “equivalent to 10% of GDP with only moderate prospects for growth during the next fiscal period.” A career in world economics surely beckons.
Liam did his best to reassure me that the money we don’t have is enough to pay for the lifestyle we can’t afford – just like Greece. And we can’t guilt-trip the Germans. Ah well, we’ll just spend the cash and wait for the pensions to kick in, assuming we still have pensions to kick in given the parlous state of the British structural deficit. We are considering taking in washing as we’re far too old to sell our bodies.
In the end, though, it is the quality of our lives that really counts and the quality is good, very good. It is a minor miracle that after spending three months together all day every day we are still speaking let alone loving, laughing and living. That’s something money can’t buy.
I was casually surfing the net and stumbled across a web page published in 2008 that promoted Turkey as the low cost destination of choice for those wishing to live out their dotage in the sun. In between the usual flannel and hype I found a couple of blasé declarations that leapt from the page and beat me viciously about the face. The first stated that electricity costs “should be no more than £10 per month” and the second is that “Turkey will remain a low cost alternative for years to come”. Even if this was true at the time it certainly isn’t true now. Our last electricity bill was over 80 quid and the cost of our daily essentials seem to rise month on month. I don’t know how the locals manage and, with plummeting interest rates, I’m not surprised some of my fellow compatriots are struggling to make ends meet. I hear talk that, like the stateless nomadic tribes of yesteryear, emigreys are migrating en-masse to greener, cheaper pastures in the land of the Bulgars. We won’t be joining the camel train any time soon but if it carries on like this Liam and I will have to give up the sauce. Never!
Talking of web surfing, I was amused by the “gay hairy Turkish men” search that led someone to click on Perking the Pansies. I hope he (and assume it was a he) didn’t get too hot under the collar by the absence of hard core images of swarthy, hirsute men laying bare their assets and doing what Ottoman men have done for centuries. Now I’m getting hot under the collar.
The final clutch of exiles I’ve observed are the semigreys, people too young to retire in the conventional sense, who are living the vida loca on the proceeds of property sales. Plunging interest rates present quite a fiscal test to those trying to maintain a hedonistic lifestyle on dwindling assets while waiting for the pensions to kick in, assuming there will be a pension to kick in given the parlous position of the British public purse. That’ll be us then.