Why Still Live in Expensive Cities

The average price for a detached house in Greater Vancouver is well north of $1 million, in a city where the median household income is around $76,000. Vancouver may not necessarily be the most expensive city in the world, but it is the third most unaffordable city in the world. And yet, it’s where John Chow himself chose to live for years, despite making his living online. Why?

Think about this. When you have a more traditional job, regardless of the industry that you are in, you are usually tied to a physical location. If you are a chef, you have to come in to work at your restaurant. If you are an accountant, you have to come in to your office. If you are a teacher, you have to go teach at the school. These are all perfectly respectable occupations and some are more lucrative than others, but they are all tied to a physical, geographic location.

Not All Dollars Are Spent Alike

Making money online and working for yourself frees you from such constraints, because you are able to manage and run your online business from anywhere you can access the Internet. If you store all your vital documents and resources in the cloud, you can pack up your laptop and hop on a plane to practically anywhere and continue to earn your living. We’ll put aside the challenges of citizenship, work visas and other documentation for now.

Given all of this, it would make the most sense if you spent the majority of your time where your dollar (or Euro or yen or whatever other currency you earn) can stretch the furthest.

Why would you spend over $1 million on a teardown of a house in Vancouver when you can buy a palatial mansion elsewhere in the world for a mere fraction of that? Why would you spend $200 on a steak dinner in Manhattan when you can have an even more impressive meal elsewhere for the equivalent of $20? The dollar you earn is the same, but how much it buys can vary considerably.

Why do it? It’s about connections, community and lifestyle. Let me explain.

Success Breeds Success

While I certainly cannot claim to be pulling in the same kind of paycheck as John, I am able to eke out my comfortable middle class living here in Vancouver as a freelance writer and blogger.

A big part of that is because of the connections I was able to forge by the very nature of living in Vancouver. If I didn’t live here, I would have never met John in real life, I likely would not have starting writing here, and I likely would not have forged many of the other business relationships that have followed since.

If I lived halfway across the world in some rural village, I would not have had the opportunity to meet the people that I have. Attending conferences and trade shows are useful, but the day-to-day community can speak volumes. Vancouver has that. Seattle has that and that’s partly why John lived in Bellevue for a time. Orange County in California has that and that’s partly why John lives there now.

These are all very expensive places to live, but they’re worth it for the great upside they can provide.

When you make your money on the Internet and you have the privilege of location freedom, why wouldn’t you choose the most desirable places to call your home? Why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals, living and working from these hubs of inspiration, ambition and vision?

The Laws of Attraction

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that some of the biggest vloggers on YouTube live either in New York or in Los Angeles. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that some of the biggest tech startups are based either in Seattle or San Francisco. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that despite being a country consisting of a single city, Singapore is home to some of the most ambitious and successful Internet marketers and bloggers in all of Asia.

These are all expensive cities, because they are cities that have the potential to breed success. And they all offer a certain lifestyle that’s awfully appealing too.

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