Category Archives: Downshifting Life

The Downshifting Dilemma: Buying or Renting Abroad

Buying a property to call your own is tempting, but in some cities, it makes far better financial sense to rent. To help you decide, we list a;

Buying or Renting Abroad, Johannesburg is good for buying
Buying or Renting Abroad, Johannesburg is good for buying

Rental Yield Comparison when Buying or Renting Abroad.

According to Global Property Guide “The gross annual rental income, expressed as a percentage of property purchase price. This is what a landlord can expect as return on his investment before taxes, maintenance fees and other costs.”

The Gross Rental Yield may seem insignificant if you are buying a property to live in. But, it is a useful statistic to know for two reasons. Firstly, if rental yields are low, then it makes more sense to rather rent than buy. Secondly, high rental yields are often a good indication of good capital growth potential.

Buy in South Africa, Rent in India is an excellent resource for rental yields and they have just released new Cost of Living information for January 2017. I’m a bit obsessed with browsing the stats; Seeing how cheap rent and food is in Bangalore never fails to amaze me. And on the flip side, I wonder why New Yorkers continue to slave away to maintain their high cost of living, when they could have a better work-life balance in Cape Town or Lisbon. lists this guide when deciding on Buying or Renting Abroad;

  • 3% = do not buy
  • 6% = borderline
  • 9% = ok to buy

I’ve been fortunate to buy some investment properties in Johannesburg and Cape Town that have allowed me to escape my stressful corporate job. And my experience is that the “Outside of City Centre Gross Rental Yields” of 12.11% for Johannesburg and 10.56% for Cape Town are both achievable. It makes good financial sense to buy in South Africa and Mexico. But Delhi is at the bottom of the list and you’d be far better off renting there.

Numbeo City Stats Rental Yield City Centre Yield Out of Centre
Johannesburg, S. Africa 11.34% 12.11%
Cape Town, S. Africa 7.84% 10.56%
Mexico City, Mexico 6.70% 7.29%
Lima, Peru 6.29% 5.95%
Hanoi, Vietnam 3.69% 7.33%
Budapest, Hungary 5.21% 5.80%
SaintPetersburg, Russia 5.24% 5.69%
Santiago, Chile 4.70% 5.82%
Istanbul, Turkey 4.71% 5.61%
Warsaw, Poland 4.44% 5.12%
Bogota, Colombia 4.70% 4.73%
Chiang Mai, Thailand 4.81% 4.54%
Lisbon, Portugal 4.19% 4.97%
Athens, Greece 4.33% 4.00%
Bangkok, Thailand 4.18% 3.95%
Bangalore, India 3.45% 4.62%
Prague, Czech Republic 3.50% 4.11%
BuenosAires, Argentina 3.60% 3.89%
Delhi, India 2.46% 3.15%

@NomadicYou Would you prefer buying or renting abroad in your new downshifting city? What scares you most about foreign property ownership?

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about buying in Cape Town or Johannesburg. Property investing is my favourite topic!

Continue reading The Downshifting Dilemma: Buying or Renting Abroad

Considering Downshifting Freelancing Life?

Are you tired of the corporate grind and wish you can work on your terms? Rudolph shares his experience;

Downshifting Freelancing Life. Rudolph at the Cradle of Humankind
Downshifting Freelancing Life. Rudolph at the Cradle of Humankind

Living the Downshifting Freelancing Life.

In 2016, I was working as a Risk Specialist for a large corporate here in South Africa. Our new CEO was keen on implementing cost-cutting measures and the risk department was targeted for downsizing.

The uncertainty of potential job cuts was playing havoc with my health. My anxiety levels escalated and I was constantly exhausted. I had body aches and all I wanted to do was sleep; I had all the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Friends and family encouraged me to re-apply for my job and hope for the best. But besides my worsening health, I was uninspired by the monotony of the 9 to 5 grind. I faced a tough decision: Stay and prove my worth with what little energy I had left, or leave corporate life.

I decided to make a clean break and didn’t re-apply for my position. A decision that, now a couple of months later, I am so glad I made.

Working remotely is easier than ever before

My main concern (and certainly my folks’ foremost fear too) was that life outside corporate is not financially viable. Luckily, I had some rental income and savings to cushion my leap.  I could supplement that by starting something entrepreneurial, but there were no guarantees that this would succeed.

Instead, I did some research on online businesses. These have the lowest start-up costs and the best potential for a global audience. The more research I did, the clearer it became that the “Gig” economy is fast becoming the new normal. If I had a marketable skill, there were thousands of opportunities for making money online.

Cheap Destinations are a Freelancer’s Best Friend

I’ve been devoting most of my time to writing “Escaping Corporate” and learning new freelancing skills. With the “All-In-One Dummies” guides and online courses from the I have been able to fast-track my learning.

Continue reading Considering Downshifting Freelancing Life?

Need Space? The Best Cities to Rent an Apartment

Want to downsize your budget rather than your home size? Then consider these budget destinations;

Asia or Athens? Best Cities to Rent an Apartment. Photo by Elisa Atene
Asia or Athens? Best Cities to Rent an Apartment. Photo by Elisa Atene

Top 25 Best Cities to Rent on Foreign Shores

Extra space doesn’t cost too much in Asia. Must have something to do with developers accommodating larger families? Expatistant stats find that renting an 85m2 apartment in Bangalore, Delhi and Johor Bahru is not much more than renting a studio.

Asia is a great option then if you need space for a study or for your mother-in-law to visit. For the singletons out there, you can save some money by getting a flat mate, rather than having a studio of your own.

Studio for one or sharing?

The same principle applies in Antalya and Athens. For example, getting your own studio apartment in Athens may set you back around $408. But, sharing a larger apartment means you could split the $595 rent in half at $298 each.

Here is the list of best foreign shores to get a larger rental apartment;

Furnished 85m2 Apartment Rental      
1 Antalya $300 € 285 £246
2 Bangalore $337 € 320 £276
3 Bali $414 € 393 £339
4 Colombo $434 € 412 £355
5 Johor Bahru $445 € 423 £365
6 Delhi $450 € 427 £369
7 Chiang Mai $500 € 475 £410
8 Hanoi $539 € 512 £442
9 PlayaDelCarmen $568 € 539 £465
10 Athens $595 € 565 £487
11 Budapest $677 € 643 £555
12 Johannesburg $728 € 691 £597
13 Istanbul $770 € 731 £631
14 Prague $782 € 743 £641
15 Mexico City $803 € 763 £658
16 Lima $806 € 765 £661
17 Bogota $811 € 770 £665
18 Lisbon $825 € 783 £676
19 SaintPetersburg $851 € 808 £698
20 Buenos Aires $868 € 825 £712
21 Phuket $869 € 826 £713
22 Warsaw $887 € 842 £727
23 Santiago $928 € 881 £761
24 Cape Town $956 € 908 £784
25 Bangkok $1102 € 1047 £904

 @NomadicYou Space for a study or yoga room in your larger apartment? Where will it be out of these Best Cities to Rent an Apartment?

Best Rental Destinations for Downshifters

Where can remote workers find the cheapest cities to rent a studio apartment? Nomadic You lists these;

Antalya Beach from your $225 Best Rental Destination. Photo Pixabay
Antalya Beach from your $225 Best Rental Destination. Photo Pixabay

Top 25 Best Rental Destinations in the World.

Expatistan claims to be a Wikipedia for prices. It is a collaborative effort by users to add prices for a variety of items. Since rental cost makes up the largest chunk of most budgets, Nomadic You looked at Expatistan rental prices for our 25 budget destinations.

Expatistan statistics are for rental prices for 85m2 and 45m2 studio apartments in both expensive and ‘normal’ areas. For this comparison, we focused on the smaller studio apartments. Rental costs are an average of the expensive and normal suburb costs.

Furnished Studio Price Per Month      
1 Antalya $225 213 € £184
2 Bangalore $229 217 € £187
3 Bali $259 246 € £212
4 Chiang Mai $266 252 € £218
5 PlayaDelCarmen $295 280 € £242
6 Colombo $316 300 € £259
7 Johor Baru $320 304 € £262
8 Hanoi $355 337 € £291
9 Delhi $361 343 € £296
10 Athens $408 387 € £334
11 Budapest $425 404 € £349
12 SaintPetersburg $472 448 € £387
13 Phuket $517 491 € £424
14 Bogota $531 504 € £435
15 Warsaw $540 513 € £442
16 Prague $541 513 € £443
17 Johannesburg $541 513 € £443
18 Buenos Aires $553 525 € £453
19 Lima $563 535 € £462
20 Istanbul $565 536 € £463
21 Mexico City $576 547 € £472
22 Bangkok $601 571 € £493
23 Lisbon $607 576 € £497
24 Santiago $660 627 € £541
25 Cape Town $684 650 € £561

 @NomadicYou Will it be the beaches of Bali and Antalya, or cultural Chiang Mai and Bangalore that top your best rental destinations?

It is interesting to see how Johannesburg and Cape Town are relatively cheap to buy property in, but not that cheap to rent. The Antalya beaches seem appealing at around $225 for a furnished studio apartment per month. And since this is an average, it is possible to find rental apartments even cheaper than that!

Downshifting your life? Here are some options

Polygamous cult or tiny home?

Downshifting your life? Polygomy may not be the best option. Photo Piers Canadas

From urban to off-grid.  Six options for you, when downshifting your life.

I wonder how many ladies join a polygamous cult to escape the corporate drudgery? This may be a very niche downshifting option; too many wives in the kitchen and all that. Besides, compounds for a family of thirty might not be consistent with your urban living ideals. There are fewer options for men; polygamous cults don’t recruit many men it seems, but here is a roundup of downshifting choices for boys and girls:


Although the downshifting vision may be more synonymous with an off-grid cottage in the boondocks, urban living should not be discounted as an option. If you have already taken the 100-things-challenge and reduced your worldly possessions to the bare minimum, then a smaller place in the city will easily accommodate your needs.

Cleaning must be a breeze with so few things to dust. Just you and your smartphone and enough socks. Awh, the smartphone, that wonderfully multi-tasking gadget, how soon till there is an espresso making app? Must have been tough to get under the 100 item mark pre-smartphone days with a separate torch, calculator, video camera and radio. Granted the selfie stick means one less pair of undies for the 100-item-minimalists. But, rather don’t annoy the hardcore minimalist with questions on how many pairs of underwear they have. Instead, ask them what fun they have with the dusting time they save? Or whether the money saved on trinkets is going into a holiday fund for Phuket.


Your cabin in the woods may be inconveniently far from Heathrow for that trip to Phuket. Nonetheless, there is the joy of space for a vegetable garden and chickens to roam. My favourite thing about my parents’ farm was the night sounds. No traffic noise or raucous parties next door; instead listening to an owl hooting from the Blue gum tree or the sound of a jackal by the dam. Not, Carlos mind you, South Africa is quite far from the Mexican border.

Would Carlos staying in a tunnel qualify as downshifting, though? I guess not, unless he is spending significantly less time in the cartel. He may qualify if he swopped hours in the business for a simpler life of experiences rather than things. His wife is pretty hot after all, who needs stuff when you have a wife like that. Uh-huh?


On the topic of flexibility; Wikipedia defines Yogi or Yogini (female) as those dedicated to yoga or meditation amongst other things. I’m not sure if being a Yogi has been talked of as a downshifting option before. But, in my opinion, all the elements are there.

Firstly, your Yoga dorm room in Mysore comes with a very low cost of living. Secondly, if your yoga school has a curriculum that runs for many months, then you qualify for a long-term visa, making this a lifestyle option rather than just a travel option. Lastly, yoga school comes with inner peace in spades that anxious city dwellers long for in downshifting. Plus, you get to say on your Facebook profile that you are a Yogini, schweet!


All that meditation may cut inconveniently into your TV-series binge watching time. Besides, the thought of homesteading muck and mud ruining that perfect designer sofa may make you cringe. In which case you’ll find your designer kin amongst the tiny house movement. Your kin know stylish surrounding are more achievable on a small scale and downshifting needn’t mean a home full of thrift shop finds. (Like to pop some tags and only have 20 dollars in your pocket? Designer tiny home living may not be for you.) Be the cabin porn envy of Instagram but remember to still aim to be downshifting debt-free.

Less good for the budget is that monster truck you need to tow your tiny home around. Not great for your carbon footprint either. Urban minimalists with their public transit commute certainly have the tiny house folk beat on carbon footprint. Their apartments in the sky don’t have the peaceful surrounds of a home on wheels, though. And they can’t hook up their home to the truck when Tommy gets his electric guitar for Xmas next door.


If you think neighbours are good and a stranger is but a friend etc, then intentional communities may be for you. I should have mentioned before, establishing a cult and getting your followers to set themselves free of their worldly belongings and cash into your PayPal account is a very viable passive income option. Sadly, few of us have the magnetic charm it takes to be the leader of a cult. Instead, joining an established co-op or community could be a downshifting choice for you.

As an economics graduate my preference is for intentional communities that are not after my cash. Guess I will have to forego the free love to be had in a cult and opt for co-housing instead. The cohousing movement originated with the happy Danes. Then cohousing communities were also to be found in countries like The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Co-housing is great if you are an English speaker who is not inclined to start speaking in the Spanish or Turkish of a cheaper country.


What is it like to stay in co-housing? These intentional communities value sharing and caring. Neighbourhoods are typically based on environmental principles that value open space and gardens. Neighbours collaborate to organize child and elderly care. All this sharing is good for emotional wellbeing and your pocket too.

Seems then there is a downshifting option for everyone. If you aren’t happy with the corporate grind, there is a grind of a different kind happening at a cult near you. If all that exertion is just too much, try peaceful meditation and yoga in Mysore. If the yoga school dorm room hasn’t seen updating since 1980’s, choose a home that’s tiny but stylish. Would you rather have the kids at more of a distance than the tiny home loft? Then leave them in the capable hands of your cohousing child care. Spare a thought for Carlos though; you can downshift at will, but he has tunnel work to wait for, before shifting at all.

@nomadicyou Would you choose co-housing or a tiny home when downshifting your life? Is downshifting at home or abroad best?

The cheapest cities to rent for downshifters

Want to downshift to foreign shores for a better lifestyle? Numbeo has some awesome stats on the cheapest cities to rent. Antalya, Bangalore, Athens and 22 more cities to live in.

Cheapest cities to rent bangalore-amol-gaitonde
Bangalore apartment building,photo by amol.gaitonde

If you are not as big a stats geek as me, you may not have heard of Numbeo has all the info you need on the cost and quality of living across the globe. Thousands of users submit data on their cities and all this info gets compiled for your reading enjoyment.

Pity then, they don’t have an index on house prices yet. But until they do, I’ve taken the liberty of listing the cheapest global cities to rent in. Oh, I prefer urban living and cheap travel. These 25 cities below meet both requirements.

Cheap Asia Apartments

No surprise to find Bangalore as the cheapest city for monthly rental on a 1 bedroom apartment. After all, it has been featured before on Nomadic You as the budget destination with the lowest cost of living. But, Antalya in Turkey is a bit of a surprise at number two with city center rentals averaging $198.82. Sunny beaches and an airport hub serviced by many low-cost carriers only add to Antalya’s appeal.

If you fancy living in one of Europe’s cultural city centers, then Athens is a good choice too. A 1 bedroom city center apartment will only set you back around $283.75 per month. Keep an eye out for Nomadic You’s tips on exploring Athens by transit coming soon.

25 Best cities for Renters

City Rank Rent 1 Bedroom City Center Rent 1 Bedroom Outside Center
1 Bangalore $205.07 $124.22
2 Antalya $198.92 $138.90
3 Bali $221.18 $143.76
4 Delhi $243.43 $142.98
5 Colombo $285.69 $154.05
6 Chiang Mai $307.00 $177.59
7 Johor Bahru $347.02 $193.10
8 Athens $283.75 $296.26
9 PlayaDelCarmen $400.25 $184.17
10 Phuket $381.84 $256.90
11 Bogota $384.52 $307.37
12 Budapest $413.06 $283.76
13 Mexico City $418.89 $286.82
14 Hanoi $428.28 $300.92
15 Istanbul $477.90 $255.14
16 Buenos Aires $439.03 $344.49
17 Bangkok $559.84 $238.81
18 Johannesburg $455.98 $346.33
19 Santiago $437.36 $390.41
20 SaintPetersburg $497.25 $335.81
21 Warsaw $516.54 $397.72
22 Lima $599.02 $356.89
23 Prague $570.34 $407.06
24 Cape Town $607.88 $395.35
25 Lisbon $624.11 $413.23

@NomadicYou Renting abroad can be cheaper than your home country. What will you spend the savings on?

Try some simple living and downshifting life

Remote work and the sharing economy make downshifting life easier than ever. Where are the best places to live for simple living?

Time for the cobra pose with downshifting life
Time for the cobra pose with downshifting life

“The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.” –Mad Magazine

True, the average size of US homes has been increasing and an elephant would feel right at home. Plus, the Jones’ would have trouble keeping up with you; bragging rights for days. But at what price the double volume foyer and quirky bragging rights? For downshifters, there is more sense to be found in staying somewhere smaller, easier and economical to maintain. Downsizing is not just about the size of your home. Rather it is about leaving consumerism behind; having fewer bills to pay and spending less time in the office.


I love reading inspiring books. One of my all-time favourites being Alex Steffen’s book, Worldchanging: A User’s guide for the 21st Century, based on sustainability topics from his discontinued Webby nominated blog. If you were to press me on my what my life mantra is, I would paraphrase Steffen; “Wealth through experiences, not stuff”.

To illustrate how much sense the sharing economy makes; Steffen asks you to consider that portable drilling machine in your closet that you use once a year at most. Far better, he argues, for the planet and your budget, if neighbours were to make their drill available to share. For the planet; fewer manufactured items means less pressure on our natural resources.

ZipCar, the North American and European car-sharing company, already has over a million users. They claim that each car in their fleet takes 15 personally-owned cars off the road. That is a big deal for the planet: It should lead to more pedestrian friendly cities, with fewer ugly parking lots and it is good for users’ pockets too. Plus, there is more: this car-free million is likely to walk more, be healthier and happier than car owners.


Quitting that high-pressure job and sleep-depriving commute for a simpler life, will likely be better for your health, provided you don’t replace work stress with financial stress from your life-changing move. The same multiple income stream principles as covered in “How to make it as Digital Nomad and earning enough money on the road”, also apply to downshifters, of course. But, unlike digital nomads, the emphasis for downshifters is more on working less and creating free time to enjoy life, rather than finding remote working sources of income to replace your current corporate salary.

An extreme version of downshifting-wellness can be found in the yoga schools of Mysore. This city near Bangalore, is known to be the yoga capital of India. You could get a long-term “Yoga Visa” for the duration of your schooling and spend some blissful years meditating and stretching.


For those over 55, your best stretching days may be behind you (Not you. You nimble chandelier-swinging cougar you). A more practical option will be to get a retirement visa. Relocating to a more affordable country could mean no compromise on your quality of live at all. Maintaining a similar home compared to your native city, dining at foodie-worthy restaurants and the odd spa treatment or two.

If you are younger than 55 and your bank balance is as high as your anxiety levels, then why not consider a retired person permit backed up with proof of your financial independence? This South African knows one thing for sure: A downshifting life in Cape Town with perfect beaches and picturesque wine farms is crazy to turn down if your bank balance allows. If you meet the income threshold, currently ZAR37,000 or $2650 per month, a retirement visa can be yours without any age restrictions.


Emerging market currency collapses can make luxury expat living a painless downshifting option. But, in the absence of a collapse in the Rand or if you merely prefer staying in a quieter corner of your home country, then simple living could be the option for you.

Digital nomads benefit from the convenience of big city living; fast internet, an efficient metro, a well-served airport and co-working spaces. But, for downshifters, being a bit further off the beaten track works well. Functionality over touristy. A cottage by the sea. A cabin in the woods. A dorm room in yoga city.

You could still write that steamy romance from your cottage (Don’t forget the shirtless stud on the cover. More important than the plot). Being an author means no fast internet required and flexible working hours to enjoy the beach when the wind subsides.

The perk of having that cheaper downshifting budget is more free time, especially if you have some steady residual income flowing in.  Time to read the classics. Time to binge-watch Suits. Siesta time. Chandelier swinging time… The media has conditioned society to value the new, the trendy, the exclusive and expensive. Instead, downshifters value time.


Not the most fun you can have with your clothes on, but putting aside some time for budgeting will help make that downshifting lifestyle a sustainable one. It’s up to you whether you go off-grid and radically shrink those expenses, or only cut some luxuries here and there.

Before taking the downshifting leap; going debt-free is worth a shot. Those bond-free cabin homeowners know all about being debt-free and seem happy enough despite their crash-courses in minimalism. If you have a hoarding husband, then minimalism may be a battle too far. Start out simple. Cut the cards, sell some things in the attic and consider turning that hobby into an income earner.

It’s all about trade-offs in the end. More time to play can be achieved by downsizing your household budget. Remote work may mean less hours at your desk if you move somewhere cheap in the world. Your budget and health can improve by going car-free. But ultimately, you don’t need the elephant-enveloping home: Alex Steffen is right, it’s all about experiences rather than stuff.

@nomadicyou Is downshifting the best path to work-life balance? Where are the best places to move for simple living? #downsizing