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.


Congrats! There’s a railway in your place!

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.)




Posted by Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.


  1. Wow, can’t get my mind around this post! Americans are terribly spoiled aren’t we. Can you move to the UK or elsewhere?



    1. Some first-worlders are a bit spoiled, true… The idea is, whatever we have, we shouldn’t take it as a matter of course. I guess I could move elsewhere, but I don’t think it would be helpful, given that I don’t have skills that transfer easily between countries.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. There’s something about living an austere life, one of the problems as I see it of living in a ‘western’ country, even if it’s not geographically west of anywhere, is how dependent we have become on technology and how we fret over the internet going down. I mean in my world everyone has a mobile phone of some kind and has it attached to their hand. I do know people who don’t have them and surprisingly they are well-balanced folk, no twitches or physical maladies.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Yep, the internet going down is the worst, even for me! I’m trying to use it with common sense rather than letting myself become a slave to it. Not just the internet but social media and such.

      I’m not sure about austere life, it’s not what I’m going for, it probably has its perks but I like to have as much comfort and convenience as I can possibly afford. Still, people need much fewer things than they tend to think.

      Liked by 1 person


  3. There are advantages to living in more humble surroundings. There’s a lot of crap on the internet and social media. And having experiences many periods of no internet access, i can attest to these facts – 1. you get mad as hell at first; 2. you actually discover that there are more things to life than just watching the box or being hooked into the net. It can be very freeing 🙂 But I guess, realistically speaking, living in the west without these modern conveniences long term creates lots of problems. The assumption by most businesses for example is that EVERYONE has internet access. I am wondering how they will overcome that little hitch when we become a cashless society….



    1. The internet is indeed a horrible place when you don’t use it with care. I’m glad I have some remnants of common sense, so I’m hopefully not too affected.

      Your experience says it all. One can of course live without the internet and perhaps discover that there is more to life! There are benefits to it too, though, to me, internet is a means of connecting with the world, which is great. Of course, I need it for work purposes too, so going offline is no option.

      Liked by 1 person


      1. You’re right. Essential in the modern world. But for some it can become addictive

        Liked by 1 person


  4. I’m curious: Do you consider Czhechnya a police state?



    1. I have no idea. I haven’t ever been to Chechnya, I’m in Czechia, which is different – though commonly confused!



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