Haven is supposed to be based an amalgamation of 3rd worlds. Such that the cost of living defaults 20% to purely housing (no utilities), but in a wealthier country CoL is just utilities, food, transportation and lifestyle and one takes on debt to have more comfortable accommodations... prior to 2008-2009 (the book was published in 2004). Suze Orman suggests %40 of income (combined or single) for lifestyle, housing, and utilities, was a benchmark i remember and agree with.
To reflect the depressing circumstance of the present, people are renting apartments more instead of owning their own home and paying for the mortgage (such housing, in game-theory wise is a broken system better saved for a deeper discussion in economics and game theory). This is pretty much the circumstance poorer countries have faced prior to the economic crash and it takes some adjustment to calibrate one's expectations and adjust their lifestyle. There is news of developers in europe, asia, and even here building apartments to capitalize on the future misery (sigh)... which is pretty depressing if you ask me.
These days, if your lucky to be educated happen to be born in a 3rd world, like Haven, unless you happen to be in the "right" industry expect that you will be renting an apartment or 3rd tier developer in the very dense residential neighborhood. renting in such a way would be %40 CoL in GURPS and losing 20-25 hours a week and 10-20% of CoL on transportation (thats depressing lolz). Food and recreation can finish the rest of CoL (50-30%; see B265) even though its recommend to save 10% of gross income when possible lolz.
Basically since 2009 the what Wealth and Status brings in B265 found in the Basic Set Equipment does not apply anymore. If you count transportation, people are "working" 80-100 hours a week sigh. (as a GM i'd rule that as duty, non-hazardous freq-15 -10). So more people are struggling -10 and have -10 points of in duty (B133). the only way you can squeeze in Quality time is to have bad sleep habits, unfit, and take a hit on HT lolz. (the gamer economist in me wants to convert the 20-25 hours into revenue in some way lolz; either working remotely or take a hit on privacy and share accommodations near where you wish to work).
$300 CoL (status -1); this is the growing Working Class of Haven.
~$80 Transportation (20 hours a week; lose 2FP)
~$120 Shared Utilities and Housing (Security Encounter 12 per month)
~$100 for food and entertainment (Status -1; HT-1, and unfit)
City Stats Modifier: Poor x0.5 *2600/TL8 = Average Income of Poor nation of Status 0 is $1300; Status -1 is $650 for struggling and $260 for poor. Disposable Income after cost of living is
any disposable income should be savings... but HT9, unfit, security concerns, and poor quality transportation has a lot of problems that can eat away and leave no savings.
Only a Hobby or Loved ones can keep one sane, roll for sanity when it comes to loved ones. lolz.
Man I can't seem to balance the budget, better take on some debt (sigh and lolz).
Expats in HavenHaven is very westernized as a former Spanish and US colony and has a strong asian migrant population, because of its historical ties to Zheng He and the Temple dedicated to him in its Haven's sprawling China Town. In the economic depression, many expats from Asia and Europe have moved to Haven to start a new life. They find employment in the emerging High Tech industries and the many Infrastructure projects that this heavily populated country .
Expats, despite being from the middle class of their own country have a special place in Haven because of the centuries of colonial mentality and the testy relationship of Multinationals with their local executives because of the rampant personnel piracy. Expats are relatively cheaper despite their pay being triple to quintuple the local equivalent and have living at a much higher status than their home country when they finally adjust to Haven society.
The educational infrastructure left by the Americans made it the most advanced in the region but was not maintained and wasted away amid Oligarchical politics prior to the Civil War. The most talented and able of Haven migrate away for income of x5 to x10 that of what they are offered locally. the Brain Drain Effect is because of the way society and the industry is set up, that even the most skilled native Havenite cannot get reasonable pay in Haven, and are easily pirated abroad. Haven having one of the largest African diaspora of about 10% of the population being manual laborers to skilled executives to the world. The Multi-cultural background of haven makes them fairly adaptive despite.
To be an skilled professional expat in haven, is to reap the rewards of a new frontier or be eaten up by its risks and dangers. The typical strategy is to get into one of the lucrative mega-projects the gov't has set up. Navigate the red-tape and politics, and set up one's own fiefdom amid the many Princes who offer vassalage for much needed expertise, and loyalty.
GM note: Its easier to make Haven more depressing with Incompetent and Impotent Gov't than to be of an Evil and Competent. Its sooo easy to make a Competent Villain, but its more depressing and tragic to have a well meaning but incompetent gov't.
I know how scary it is to migrate, because I am a former greencard holder and I couldn't cut migrating to the USA (especially the healthcare costs). By how frail my health is, I wouldn't have lasted 2 years and would have succumbed to pneumonia since I was the most sickly of my brothers even when I was at my healthiest. My brother couldn't take the stress, he got type 2 diabetes and several permanent health problems along with it. Health stat is taken forgranted by the young and cherished by the old, lolz.