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Reversal of Fortune: Personal observations from a recent trip to Tehran

By D. Rouzbeh

Only a few years ago, I used to fantasize about selling my, albeit modest, assets in the U.S. and use the proceeds to return to my hometown, Tehran, to enjoy a comfortable early semi-retirement. It all seemed within reach, and plausible. I thought I could leave the never-ending 80-hour work weeks behind, ignore propaganda and politics, settle down, dream of peace, and help eradicate fear and poverty. Emulating wild salmon fish, figuratively.

It felt rather good, and it made a lot of economic sense too because at that time those modest assets, by U.S. standards, had considerable buying power in Tehran. So much so that I would have been able to purchase a respectable apartment in an affluent neighborhood and furnish it handsomely. Additionally, I would have been able to buy a nice automobile, as well as other earthly desirables, and still have sufficient cash left over to make a deposit in any one of those eye-popping high-yield (18+% interest) savings accounts in order to stay a notch or two ahead of the rampant inflation. I could have been a happy retiree and a trail-blazing yet cool act to follow.

Those fantasies were shattered when I recently decided that it was time for me to act on my fantasies and made a trip to Tehran. I thought the time had finally come for me to realize those rather innocent dreams and let my hard-earned greenbacks provide a bridge to a happy retirement. What I found instead was a rude awakening. I would not be retiring in Tehran anytime soon.

Yes, it is official and the jury is out. Tehran has now surpassed California in the cost of living. Real-estate prices have skyrocketed to ridiculous new highs. World-class automobiles are almost twice as expensive. Food and energy prices, on the average, are, or will soon be, about the same and in some cases even more expensive. Inflation is simply out of control while individual liberties and freedom are tightly controlled. The only affordable commodities in Iran today are bread, public transportation, and human life. Tehran is now sinking under its own weight in corruption, tyranny, and gangster-like political and market manipulations and extortion. My dream is dead.

While in Tehran, I met a lot of folks who are pondering a comfortable early retirement in California! In a depressed real-estate market, and the dollar currently at an all-time low against other currencies, those folks in Tehran today have considerable buying power here in the U.S. Their fantasies may indeed turn into reality, but "hurry up before it is too late!" I told them while I hurried to pack up and leave.

For now, I will hold tight here in California knowing that I am blessed and fortunate just to be here and have work to do. We are the envy of countless souls out there who dream of retiring here. I am blessed too that I witnessed a historic reversal of fortune, literally. Where will my next fantasy take me?

... Payvand News - 11/28/07 ... --

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