By Ankita Ghosh:
Picture this. Year 1872, an audacious and rather foresighted Jules Verne chronicles the intrepid and edge-of-the-seat journey of a solitary Englishman, Phileas Fogg, in his acclaimed title ‘Around the World in 80 Days’. Considering that he was writing in a pre-modern 19th century Europe, when man had yet to claim command over the airspace, his was a thoroughly immodest attempt, and quite laudable at that. Today, an 8 hour flight from Washington DC to London, a quick 40 minute lounge-nap, another connecting flight to Tokyo and a concluding Tokyo-DC round-trip, each taking about 12 hours, in approximation, will leave you at Washington Dulles International Airport severely jetlagged and right in time for the evening news.
Early bookings and calculated flight time will cut down on the 80-day threshold by obscene measures, and on some well-deserved adventure. Flitting around the world has its obvious perks but the cost of living can leave the budget traveller with acute PTSD. Here we try to make gross assumptions of what it’s like to live in the world’s greatest cosmopolitan cities, according to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index, and how far do you run the risk of having to destroy your Fixed Deposits and your ambitions.
High Cost Cities (Take me down to the paradise city)
London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Tokyo, in that order, figure among the list of top cities where rent and services tend to cost slightly more than entertainment. These centres of high-octane life-support, and truly admirable heterogeneous culture, will let you live with absolutely unadulterated freedom and ceremony, while making sure that you do not escape customs with so much as a pence in your pocket when flying back. However NY has budget options like shared lofts outside the Manhattan area, and Europe lets you put up in Hostels and accommodates visiting strangers at home-stays.
Medium Cost Cities (Country roads take me home)
Abu Dhabi, Toronto, Munich, Milan, Beijing might sound to you like a bizarre combination of urban centres with widely varying history, social fabric and cultural identity but statistical data goes in favour, of their wider acceptability to sporadic travellers and cross-country hitchhikers. Thriving intelligentsia, good elementary schools, cheap diners and lower toll-tax, make each of these cities a quick hit with long-term settlers and station-hoppers alike.
US mid-West, Southern states like Texas and continental Europe, give travellers a delectable selection in cuisine, sight-seeing, backpacking or simply soaking, in the temperate sun.
Low Cost Cities (I’m coming home to the place where I belong)
Belgrade, Durban, Cairo, Mumbai, Delhi make up a delectable blend of fast growing metropolitan cities, mostly outside of the geographical West. Dynamic social history, rich shared heritage, emerging and urbane in temperament, these cities are rapidly becoming a favourite with the more unorthodox traveller. Their growing popularity is attributed to the seasoned, albeit relatively unsophisticated, experience they ensure, to wholly satisfy the wanderlust of the well-travelled. Travelling in East Europe, Asia and Africa can be daunting and humbling at the same time as it lets you taste the unique local flavour as well as return home rich.
Travelling around the world in the twenty-first century takes you a click on an online travel portal and somebody else, to plan an itinerary and compare hotel rates. The alcohol on warm, cosy flights come for double the bar-prices, and hailing cabs with lilting luggage at your heels has become unnecessary. Taxi-services send in vehicles even before you can scream, “Cabbie..!” Putting up temporarily for work/recreation, or looking to settle down and make a life in your dream city needs no more than pre-booking at every step and it certainly doesn’t involve losing a bet.