I have the dubious (dis)advantage of living betwixt the first and the second worlds. My ass is sitting on a second-world chair, but the first world is at my fingertips, literally, through the internet. If you haven’t heard yet, what I define as second world are primarily post-communist countries in eastern Europe, which are, just like me, sitting uneasily between world one and world three, thus logically constituting world two. Makes sense, right?
Living in the second world entails having mostly second-world problems, which are pretty down-to-earth and typically revolve around the overarching question of how the fuck do I pay the bills. Assorted first-world problems do creep in, such as, what the fuck do I do with myself when the wifi is down, but mostly, first-world problems remain the source of endless hilariousness for me. You know, most first-world problems are not a thing here. Yep, they’re virtually nonexistent. Don’t everyone move in here.
In the unlikely scenario, though, that you’re a first-worlder looking to live in the second world (whatever crimes you committed to deserve that), here’s a helpful list of how to go about it. Among other things, your strategy must cover procuring alternatives for first-world products, which are here either entirely unavailable or are no way affordable. My insider advice is based specifically on Czechia, but should be applicable elsewhere too. Here you go. Take notes.
Item to substitute: iPhone, iPad and other iStuff
Get instead: normal stuff, huh
I suspect it’s not common knowledge in the first world, but when you want a smartphone, you don’t have to buy an iPhone. (Shocking, I know, but indulge me for a bit.) Just Google cheap smartphone in the local language and you shall be surprised to see that there are plentiful non-i-items in terms of phones, tablets, computers and laptops.
Be advised, however, that a tablet is not allowed. I can spare you the waste of money and tell you right away that a tablet doesn’t do anything that a phone or a laptop wouldn’t do. See, you’re already spending less!
Item to substitute: coffee machine
Get instead: kettle
Let’s make it clear straight away. You’re not drinking fancy coffee, and even if you wanted to, too bad, there are no more than two or three cities in this country where there’s a Starbucks. Take-away coffee, obviously, isn’t admissible anyway, so get used to making your own sooner rather than later.
What you do drink is called Turkish Coffee and has nothing to do with real Turkish coffee. For a recipe, see my earlier post. It’s pretty simple, wholesome, and all you need is a tin mug (if you want to go authentic), generic brand coffee and a means to boil water. If you really want to cut spending, you don’t even need a kettle, an oven will do; and if you don’t have an oven, use the fireplace in the middle of your room.
Item to substitute: car
Get instead: bus ticket
This is another outrageous concept, but sorry not sorry, that’s what it is: you don’t need a car. Here, I said it. It’s good news really because you can’t afford a car, obviously. You used the money you saved up to pay for your driving licence already, which is good, you might need it in case you ever need to drive a get-away car.
Look around. It might be that there are buses, trams and trains around. See them? Good. You just got yourself a means of transport. Can’t see anything? Too bad. It looks like you live in the middle of nowhere, where there is no public transport. Never mind though, you can still walk. So put those silly stilettos away in the closet, you won’t be using them here.
Item to substitute: TV and/or Netflix subscription
Get instead: nothing
I’ll let you in to a secret: if you have a computer or laptop, you have zero need for a TV. Actually, TV ownership is here associated with the lower-class (euphemism for dumb people in this case), so if you’re keen on making it (i.e., making it until the next rent is due), you won’t bee needing this crap.
As to Netflix, don’t worry about it too much, it’s probably not available in your new region anyway. Despite globalism, don’t think that you could subscribe to an US version of Netflix or anything really. You can’t, you’re now in the wrong place. The main point is, however: you don’t pay for watching anything. If you find yourself doing it, you’re doing it wrong.
There is obviously so much more, so much more that you couldn’t wrap your mind around it, which is the reason why I’ll leave you to it for now. I might bring more advice later. Or not. In case I do, watch this space. (Instead of Netflix.)