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The thing you have to understand, 80k USD is a very very very high salary for most people (even developers) in Europe. And the ones that make that can most likely see 1/2 of that go away in taxes/social security. Cost of living will probably be higher than the equivalent salary in the USA.

On the other hand, people should get unemployment benefits when situations like this occur, unfortunately for him, the moving countries may have prevented that (for Sweden employment agency, he quit his Swedish job, not fired, and for Portuguese one, he didn't work enough months to qualify. I'm sure there are some international provisions for these situations but they are beyond me).

$80K is not so much at it might seem when you're living in the Bay Area. Rent for a small apartment $24K a year living outside of San Francisco, and up to $30K+ inside the city. Everything is very expensive. When I lived in another city I could get by at $500 a month for a similar apartment.

That is an excellent point, and very fitting. If you take in account 80k is current salary, and most likely started at 40k and over 20 years raised it (lets say linearly), making an average of 60k over those 20 years, and paying high taxes, I doubt many would be able to save much as well unless your partner also worked. Also, Stockholm has quite high rents, looking at [1], studios start at around 1000 usd and small apartments at 1600 or so (not in central Stockholm, but suburbs)

[1] http://www.bostaddirekt.com/Private/default.aspx?custType=0&...

Whether or not you can live comfortably is not in question. If you're only making enough in your city to live comfortably if you use all of your money to do so, then you need to live uncomfortably. There are plenty of poor living in all of these major cities and they get by on less than 80k, or even 60k, so it stands to reason if you're making that much and you can't afford a burn-fund then you're probably making bad choices.

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