A friend of mine accuses me of being a "hedonistic sob" (his words). That's because I eat buckwheat crepes for breakfast, eat out in the weekends, and drink Masala Chai at home. I also watch international movies in a Macbook and own two smartphones.
My salary sucks, but I don't have children, and my woman is low maintenance, which helps. But the biggest factor is that I live in a pleasant neighbourhood, and I don't pay the rent myself. I couldn't afford the rent of where I live right now. But once you take that away, life can be really good with little money. If you can cook (or your woman can) then eating reasonably well at home is cheap. Torrents and ebook readers mean entertainment is cheap, or essentially free. Socializing can be expensive; just cut the booze and meet your friends in their houses.
The root of all misery is rent. And for families, schools. Housing is hideously expensive anywhere in the world, there's no safe haven. It's expensive in North and South Europe, in America, in Asia, wherever you go. It's getting worse in most places, bubbles aside. And schools also are increasingly expensive. That's what makes life hard, what impels people to work long hours in pointless jobs, what forces women to work outside the home and make their families miserable.
Why housing and schools? They have something in common: the value of sharing them with good people. Besides the actual quality of the housing, the aesthetic value it may have, the real val...