San Francisco is widely regarded as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. To afford that rising cost, the median salary for software engineers in San Francisco has soared to $100,000. Given that many of these engineers could in theory work from anywhere on the face of the earth, I started wondering: what are some of the most outrageous places some of these Silicon Valley employees could move to instead, for the same cost of being packed cheek-by-jowl in SF?

After running the basic numbers I found that once you overcome the hassles of the move, becoming a digital nomad will actually save you tons of money. For the sake of simplicity, we are assuming that the world traveler in question is single with no dependents and is not taxed on income earned outside of the country he/she wishes to reside in (an assumption which is valid for many of the immigrant engineers in the Bay Area).

Here is an example base case scenario for income, expenses, and savings for someone living in San Francisco:

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $75,179

Yearly Income Tax (federal and state): $32,639

Average yearly rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $31,680 ($2,640/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods: $10,860/year

Transportation (assuming no car): $1,800/year

-Monthly Metro Pass: $70/month

-Occasional Taxi: $80/month

Food: $6,240/year

-Eating out: $70/week

-Groceries: $50/week

Other: $2,820/year

-Gym: $70/month

-Entertainment (Movies, museums, clubs – once a week): $15/week

-Shopping (3-4 items): $200/month

Savings: $24,821

 

And here are some of the exotic locales which will actually allow you to save more money than SF. Wouldn't it be interesting to do six months in each of them?

1) Amsterdam, Netherlands

[caption id="attachment_185" align="aligncenter" width="825"]Amsterdam http://flexitreks.com/cycling-holidays/london-to-amsterdam-cycle-tours/[/caption]

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $71,191

Yearly Income Tax: $42,898

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $17,280 ($1,440/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (1.41% more expensive than SF): $11,013

Savings: $28,809

Savings over SF: $3,988

 

2) Athens, Greece

[caption id="attachment_186" align="alignnone" width="820"]Athens http://languages.utah.edu/study-abroad/athens-greece.php[/caption]

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $46,551

Yearly Income Tax: $33,000

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $4,320 ($360/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (14.85% cheaper than SF): $9,231

Savings: $53,449

Savings over SF: $28,628

 

3) Cape Town, South Africa

[caption id="attachment_188" align="alignnone" width="821"]Cape Town http://nomad.sleepout.com/cape-town-tops-must-visit-destinations-2014/[/caption]

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $46,040

Yearly Income Tax: $33,513

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $7,200 ($600/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (50.95% cheaper than SF): $5,327

Savings: $53,960

Savings over SF: $29,139

 

4) Phuket, Thailand

[caption id="attachment_189" align="alignnone" width="808"]Phuket http://destinationsiam.com/phuket/[/caption]

 

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $36,885

Yearly Income Tax: $24,776

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $4,992 ($416/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (34.83% cheaper than SF): $7,077

Savings: $63,115

Savings over SF: $38,294

 

5) Yangon, Burma

[caption id="attachment_190" align="alignnone" width="810"]Yangon http://www.backyardtravel.com/blog/destinations/my-city-yangon/[/caption]

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $29,906

Yearly Income Tax: $15,710

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $12,432 ($1,036/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (46.42% cheaper than SF): $5,819

Savings: $66,039

Savings over SF: $41,218

 

6) Macau, SAR

[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignnone" width="804"]Macau http://www.garygoddard.com/hospitality-design/galaxy-macau/[/caption]

Income: $100,000

Expenses: $29,906

Yearly Income Tax: $9,109

Average Yearly Rent (1 bedroom in the city center): $12,084 ($1,007/month)

Remaining Cost of Goods (19.77% cheaper than SF): $8,713

Savings: $70,094

Savings over SF: $45,273

[caption id="attachment_205" align="alignnone" width="811"]Expenses For less than the price of living in San Francisco, you could live in Amsterdam (Netherlands), Athens (Greece), Cape Town (South Africa), Phuket (Thailand), Yangon (Burma), or Macau (an SAR of China).[/caption]

In a word: whenever you need to explain your crazy nomadic plans to anyone -- it's no longer just about the adventure. Becoming a digital nomad is increasingly the fiscally responsible decision. Technology isn't just on the precipice of making it possible to travel the world for free - it's making it possible to travel the world while saving money.

PS: If you're into lists now, here are some other places around the world the average Silicon Valley employee can afford.