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Best places for bootstrappers to live


I’m based in Finland, but we decided to found Bear Metal in Estonia for a couple of reasons:

  • Two out of four of us live (and already ran several companies) there (duh!).
  • There is no immediate corporate tax, i.e. you only pay tax for profits that are taken out of the company (i.e. dividends). Thus, if you make profit you can leave it in the company and invest it directly and thus get the extra benefit of compound interest for money you’d elsewhere have already paid in taxes.
  • If you target B2B customers with an immaterial product/service, you avoid charging VAT for all but Estonian customers.
  • The country is very progressive and people highly educated but the average income level is still very low. Not a huge benefit for a bootstrapper, but a small potential plus anyway.

That said, I’m still not sure I’d do the same if we didn’t have trusted local people already living there.


My wife and I moved from Paris, France to a very rural area of France, both to increase our quality of life (we have 2 kids) and to reduce the financial pressure in order to bootstrap WiseCash.

The plan worked pretty well. Here we bought our little house at around 160k€ (with a nice garden and a swimming-pool). We need roughly 45 to 50k€ (ex VAT) per year to live and save a bit.

I appreciate the quality of food, the weather, the location in general. The winter can be long though when you work from home!

Some of my friends moved to other countries (like Thaïland, UK etc), but I’m personally very happy with the overall infrastructure available in France (schools, roads, health-care).

We plan to remain in the area for the coming years to grow WiseCash at our pace.


Very jealous! I’ve been there on holiday a couple of times (slightly more north) and the lifestyle is great. Definitely on my list of places to settle down when I’m fed up with living in cities.


I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be where your customers are, you just need to be able to visit them IRL once and a while. :wink: Whether it be conferences, sit downs at their offices, or being able to just grab a beer together. Eventually you need to be able to meet your customers.

In our case, we work primarily with nonprofits in the US, so we’re based in Upstate NY - giving us perfect placement to hop on the train to NYC, Washington DC, or Boston. We’re planning to stay here for a few years at least but the promise of more available talent and cheaper cost of living is always something that we’re looking for in a new place to settle.

BTW, has anyone seen the Startup Chile program? Looks good if you’re willing to move there and dedicate some time.


Reviving an old thread to post a link to this awesome article that just came out:

What I learnt from bootstrapping my startup from Thailand in six months


I’m originally from the UK and have worked all over the world.

Currently in self-imposed exile in Spain trying to make my savings stretch a little further whilst I build my startup.
It’s absolutely wonderful. We have 2 little boys and our monthly needs are covered by £2000 (including our rent, running a car, food and my maintenance payments to my ex). The 300 days of sunshine are currently free, as are the beaches.

In Granada province where we live, you get tapas for free with any drink over €1.50! It is rather lovely too - we have sun, sea and mountains.

There is a downside - I work on my own and there are no Starbucks or work hubs and it can feel quite isolated - Granada city is 20 minutes away.

When funds run low - I seek work (for up to 5 weeks) with partners in the UK, US or Ireland and typically have to go to the client site for the duration. But I’m bootstrapped in Spain.


I’m currently in Arlington, VA, just across the river from D.C. and cost of living is CRAZY here. But with some creativity, I figured out how to not pay rent and keep my food costs low. I make peanuts right now, but I make it work.

So I say bottom line is you can pull it off anywhere. You just have to be motivated enough to do it. (and in a place in life to do it. Most wives probably won’t want to go along for this ride I’m currently on, heh)


Oh my goodness! @ryanbattles is here. Can’t escape this guy.

Btw @patpohler, I’ll be visiting family in Xenia the first week of December. And Ryan and I already discussed getting together the next time I come to town. We could make it a thing… (I know Ryan from various ExpressionEngine events)


If you are looking for cheap rent but still in a growing start up space, take a look at Northwest Arkansas (or even the Little Rock area). The tech scene is growing rapidly, theres a ton of corporate tech jobs, an accelerator, start ups popping up left and right, and housing is in 75% of the national average. I was paying $750 a month for a 3bed 2bath duplex.

It seems like the whole mid-west is slowly growing when it comes to this scene.


Hey man, I’m a terrible person I can’t believe I missed this post from a month ago! I’d love to meet up! I’m going out of town from Dec 13th to 20th but the first week of Dec is open for me!

Never been to Xenia, but I’ve been to Yellow Springs a couple of times & Troy for the Gentlemen of the Road concert.


Yikes, scary to read that Perth, Australia might be more expensive than New York. Apartments here are around $500K, houses in the suburbs generally start around $500K and $700-750K is common (figures in Australian Dollars, but it’s roughly equal to the US Dollar at the moment.) Australia is in the middle-end of a mining boom, so many (most?) folks have mining jobs beginning around $100K. A Starbucks-esque coffee is about $7 here, drinks at bars/clubs are typically $14 - $20 each.

Berlin is an amazing city, I’ve been there twice & love it. Even when you arrive at Tegel Airport, there’s a sign that says “Berlin: The Place To Be For Startups.” Accommodation & expenses seem to be about 1/2 or 1/4 what it is in Australia. I know a few Perth people who have left for Berlin & I’m seriously considering going myself. For the right consulting or job offer I’d go to Berlin in a heartbeat… until then I’ll have to bootstrap my way there :smile:


Hi all,

What an amazing community, can’t believe it took this long to find it. The knowledge put together here is blowing my mind! I wrote a blog post on our site about bootstrapping from Medellin, Colombia. Geniusly Blog

This post was generated from a blog post written by David Cummings 10,000 Startup Hours blog about taking on 300k Investment and running your startup from Atlanta. Here’s a link to his blog.

Since I wrote that piece earlier this year, I have since joined 500 Startups in Mexico City, and did the move to first Guadalajara, Mexico and now I’m in Mexico City. There are some major differences to South America and Mexico, soon I will indeed write a few full fledged blog posts on them, but for now I’ll quickly summarize what Mexico is all about.

Guadalajara startup scene is a lot more close knit, Mexico City, is such a huge city, the scene here, though very good, isn’t as close…but it is a lot bigger. Night life, restaurants, and all there is to do here in Mexico City, well in Mexico in general, is amazing! If your market is very US focused, Mexico is too, it’s a mere 3.5 hour flight to California if you need to have access to Silicon Valley, which is actually a big bonus over South America, the flight from South America will pretty much chew up a full day.

Here’s how we are living on the financial side of things.

  • 3 Bedroom fully furnished apartment in La Condesa (very cool, safe
    neighborhood, with lot’s of restaurants, gyms, bars, shopping cafe’s
    and the like).
  • $1500 Utilities (internet, tv, phone, lights, gas,
    water) ~$150
  • 10 Minute walk to work (free), or you can join EcoBici - $35 a month for a bike, they store them all over the city, you simply swipe your EcoBici card and collect your bike.
  • Food - you can live off of $3 a day here easily, as well $300, the gastronomical choices are amazing. But the street food culture here is outstanding, and extremely economical.
  • Drinks, beer $1 and all the way up.

Mexico City is a lot like NYC or LA in many ways, but unlike big cosmopolitan cities, you have the option to live cheaply here.

Again, so happy to come across this community!




Wow! What an amazing thread! Interesting how nobody seems to factor in the political climate. For example, living in the US Bible belt or places with poor human rights, extreme-right views, xenophobia &/or less rights for women (like choosing what what to do with your own body) is a total turn off for me. Obviously, someone at the other end of the political spectrum might find those same places attractive.

Also, I’m not down with the idea of going to an emerging country to take advantage of lower local labor cost while charging US/Europe prices. We all know it’s exploitation & probably wouldn’t want our children or loved one to work for one of these “lifestyle entrepreneurs”. I’m open to be convinced otherwise.

I’m in Montreal, Canada where the cost of living is pretty low (average family house in suburbs 30min from downtown is 300$USD. Personal taxes are the highest in North-America I believe, but not if you have children. Basically, if you’re a single person without child making 100K/year, you’re paying the most.

Portland Oregon looks like the place to be lately: low cost of living, access to US market & educated labor force, proximity to Seattle, reasonable politics, closeness to Asia, etc. I’m thinking of making the move myself.


In the US, most rights issues end up being decided by the US Supreme Court, so there are nationwide standards. In the Bible Belt, those who are liberal tend to congregate in the bigger cities in a state and in college towns, so you might find like-minded communities. Beyond that, newer generations and migrations from northern states have changed the makeup of the South from its old stereotyped image. You might find yourself quite at home in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area of North Carolina, for example. http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/index.aspx?page=2 http://carrboro.com/overview.html

[quote=“xecretcode, post:33, topic:354”]Also, I’m not down with the idea of going to an emerging country to take advantage of lower local labor cost while charging US/Europe prices. We all know it’s exploitation & probably wouldn’t want our children or loved one to work for one of these “lifestyle entrepreneurs”. I’m open to be convinced otherwise.[/quote]Assuming you’re paying the local wages and abiding by the local labor laws, you would not be doing anything a local entrepreneur would not be doing, and you would be bringing money into an emerging country.


One I was surprised to see missing from this list was Saint Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis has the T-Rex, Nebula, and Lab 1500 co-working spaces.

We have a seriously low cost of living and yet the quality of life in St. Louis can be quite amazing. We’ve developed a seriously innovative food and cocktail scene and our micro-breweries are wonderful.


Interesting. Do you have particular areas you like? Good areas for families?


Portland Oregon

It’s gray and wet though. I grew up in Oregon and I don’t think I could handle going back - it just gets depressing after a while. It’s not the actual quantity of rain, it’s just that it drizzles, and then rains, then pours, then sprinkles, then it’s cloudy for an hour, and then there’s a brief downpour, then it mists some… you get the idea. If you don’t mind that, it’s a great place!

How are Ft. Collins and Boulder, in Colorado? I’ve never been there, but I hear good things. Boulder seems like it’s on the expensive side, maybe for more VC type startups than bootstrappers?


Re: portland. You need to like, or not be bothered by damp/gray for 8 months of the year. But July-October can’t be beat :smile:


@davidw Thanks for the details! I’m SOLD – I’ve always coded better when it’s rainy/gray/cold outside. Hard to concentrate when it’s sunny all the time. At worst, it’s a lateral move from Montreal which is cold & freezing from November to March. Brrr…

The DIY artist community in Portland looks incredible. Lots of Indie bands, fellow vegans & EV fanatics. On top of that, there’s a vibrant pilot/aviation community based around a couple of airplane companies.

Now need to convince the kids… :slight_smile:


De gustibus non est disputandum, as they say :slight_smile: After having lived in Innsbruck, which is cold and snowy in the winter, I realized that for me -5 C clear and cold, or -2 and snowy are way better than 5C with a steady drizzle - you can’t really go out for any length of time or do much of anything outdoors with the latter.

Portland does have a lot going on in terms of music and arts, and all things considered, it’s fairly affordable, and has lots of things to do outdoors in the summer (which is beautiful), so it sounds like a place you might like indeed!

Good luck!