a) As an individual doing remote work, or

b) As an organisation deciding where to maintain offices

(Emphasis on EA-relevant work and orgs, but non-EA input is also okay.)

I get there's a lot of intangible factors that go into such a decision, but I'm keen to know which factors impacted your decision specifically. So that I can obtain a picture of which of those factors matters the most.

 

P.S. Question came to my mind cause I'm a 20-year-old living in urban India interested in EA research work. So if I have to shift to the US for that, it's like 4x cost of living for what I'm guessing isn't really a 4x improvement in quality of life or satisfaction (versus a hypothetical where all EA employees, offices, researh hubs etc were based in a lower income country). Even if the salary makes up for it, that's still funds earmarked to the EA cause that need to be spent - it's a zero-sum tradeoff between financial anxiety of EA employees and EA funds being spent. Shifting countries could be positive sum, if people are willing to shift.

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My personal experience is that I wish I'd moved to London sooner, and I wish I'd moved to SF sooner. The CoL is dwarfed by access to capital and access to the Schelling points of the global community. 

This has a strange side effect: you have to be crazy to want to live in London or SF. Consequently, only crazy people live in London or SF! And those are in fact the people I'm most keen to spend my time with.

I worked as a quant trader and a ML researcher though, so my perspective is particularly skewed.

The CoL is dwarfed by access to capital and access to the Schelling points of the global community. 

Yup I currently feel this is true, but this can change if the community as a whole wants it to, and establishes Schelling points elsewhere.

Could you please elaborate on what you mean by "crazy"? :p

'crazy' as in 'willing to pay a ridiculous CoL premium that everyone outside of these very specific regions will look askance at you for'.

By 'the community' I don't mean just EA but the larger pool of driven young university grads who EA draws from. It's no accident that EA's Schelling points for talent largely match those of the wider world.

As a recent worked example in shifting these Schelling points, take MIRI's proposal to move away from the Bay Area. It didn't work out, and they had a better chance of making this work than most.

That said, I still do I think the best opportunities for establishing new Schelling points are around insular work-areas like MIRI. I think the animal rights nexus forming in Berlin is another good example.

1acylhalide5mo
Oh okay. Main reason I gathered from that post is that newly hired EAs may or may not want to shift to lower CoL areas, but they will be willing to shift to higher CoL countries if salary is good enough. Which makes sense, so it's a tradeoff between more hires and EA money spent, if I understand you correct. Makes sense.

My brief research several months ago led me to believe that if I ever were to move to South America, it would probably be Uruguay. It's the most Swiss-like country there by far (I've lived in Switzerland all my life and think that I wouldn't be happy for long in a country that is too different from Switzerland). From wikipedia:

Uruguay is a developed country with a high-income economy, and is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, low perception of corruption,[11] and e-government.[12][13] It is first in South America when it comes to press freedom, size of the middle class, and prosperity.[11] On a per-capita basis, Uruguay contributes more troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions than any other country.[11] It is the lowest ranking South American nation in the Global Terrorism Index, and ranks second in the continent on economic freedom, income equality, per-capita income, and inflows of FDI.[11] Uruguay is the third-best country on the continent in terms of Human Development Index, GDP growth,[14] innovation, and infrastructure.[11] Uruguay is regarded as one of the most socially progressive countries in Latin America.[15] It ranks high on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues,[16] including its acceptance of the LGBT community.[17] The country has legalized cannabis, same-sex marriage and abortion. Uruguay is a founding member of the United Nations, OAS and Mercosur.

I know Uruguay well (my father used to own a house near Colonia del Sacramento) and I would agree with your assessment. Montevideo is about two hours away from Buenos Aires by ferry, so an additional advantage is relative proximity to a major metropolis. 

Interesting, should be useful info for those visiting this thread.

It's in my plans for the next few years. Only thing that would stop me would be a truly fantastic group house community in the states. Cash increasing the margin that goes to donation is one reason, basic cosmopolitan values implying an urge to actually form inside views about other cultures is another. 

My shortlist is singapore, taipei, or several south american cities. Open to having my mind changed about neglect for african cities, and south asian cities. 

Thank you for replying, this helps.

I've thought about moving to Spain to do EA-related work in the future. Right now, I work in tech, and tech jobs pay very well in the United States. But I can see myself leaving the tech industry to start a nonprofit or do independent research, in which case I would consider making the move.

My impression is that Spain, perhaps the Canary Islands, have a very good combination of quality of life, amenities, and safety, and relatively low cost of living. But perhaps taxes are higher than elsewhere? I'm not sure.

I'm curious what other places people would consider. Having a good hub of interesting people around could make a big difference.

Hey there!, A Spanish EA here. Taxes should be a bit lower than northern Europe, although some people argue that fiscal effort if you take into account lower wages. But in any case, it is not very different from other European countries in that respect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_rates_in_Europe). In any case, you're welcome to drop by :)

With respect to switching countries to save money, my impression is that being surrounded by the right people is more important than saving money, at least at a community level.

6Guy Raveh5mo
I don't think seeking lower tax countries is positive. Some Bermuda based EAs would probably disagree, but in my opinion they make the point stronger, since they caused an association in public opinion between EA and tax evasion.

Thanks for letting me know.

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This an absolutely shameless plug for my own city but I really think Cape Town (South Africa) would be an ideal location. 

  • It's probably the safest and most accessible city on the African continent
  • great infrastructure (the local government is reasonably competent compared to the national level)
  • quite big tech and creative industries
  • cost of living seems to be about a third of that in San Francisco
  • lifestyle wise, I honestly don't know of any city with more natural beauty
  • I'm also hoping to build up an EA community here (group housing etc. might happen some time in the future)

It must be gorgeous, and definitely appealing, but isn't it in the top ten for murder rate per captita?

Unfortunately that is true. I would say that statistic might be misleading though as it largely depends on the area you're living in. Lower income areas account for most of the total murder in Cape Town the metropolitan area. Higher income areas (in which any expat would inevitably be living) are relatively safe. Overall though, you'd be correct in assuming that safety is more of a concern than in many European or US cities. But as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I have't been murdered yet.

Thanks for this!

The FTX fellowship is kind of an example of this. I'm not sure exactly how many people have received a fellowship, but my impression is that there a decent number of people going to the Bahamas.

Are you sure? Preliminary searches say Bahamas has even higher cost-of-living than the US. FTX moved there due to favourable cryptocurrency regulations primarily.

Yeah, my impression is that the Bahamas is more expensive than many parts of the US (and more expensive than the vast majority of the US if you aren't including housing), particularly if you're planning to live in an "expat-y" lifestyle. 

Note that this impression is contested, see discussion here

Many years ago, when personal finance considerations weighed more heavily on EA decisions, there was an attempt to establish a "new EA hub" in a country with low cost of living and some other characteristics. Maybe the associated Facebook group still exists. I recall there were also spreadsheets, Trello boards, etc. with detailed comparisons of the different options. Posting this here in case others have links to some of that material.