Westeros VS Essos

Where Would You Live?

From slavery to social inequality and major rebellions, we help you decide which Game of Thrones (GoT) territory would be the better investment decision for your first home purchase

With speculation rising, we're finally able to feast our eyes upon the fifth season of Game of Thrones (GoT).

Will producers expand the existing territory of the Known World? Is Tywin Lannister still alive? Will sibling quarrels (and incest), continue? Or will the (“R+L=J”) theory be confirmed?

Let’s suspend reality and pretend you’re a first home buyer with some gold to spare. You need to decide whether you’d like to buy your first home in Westeros or Essos.

By comparing social and economic paradigms, we determine which land would offer the highest standard of living and would be a better investment decision for your first home buy.

Westeros V Essos

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[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from seasons 1-4 of the GoT TV series, so if you haven’t seen them, stop right here]

You're probably familiar with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where the Lannisters rule from Kings Landing, the Night Watch protect the realm from Wildlings in the north, and somewhere in between is the burnt out remains of Winterfell.

Essos extends into the far east of the Known World, where Arya Stark is currently heading. Nearby you'll find every city Daenerys Targaryen visited and left (for better or worse), and the ever-warring Dothraki tribes.

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Prostitution

Westeros & Essos

With no official law preventing brothels from operating in the major cities, prostitution is legal in both Westeros and Essos.

Known as “Sally’s” in Essos, prostitutes carry a slightly higher social ranking and are treated better than those of Westeros.

Taxing brothels are considered to be a significant source of revenue and employment and thus contributes to economic activity in both continents.

So don’t be surprised if you find “Sally’s” strolling around your new neighbourhood. You’ve been warned.

Currency & Fiscal Outlook

Westeros

The currency used in the Seven Kingdoms is the Gold Dragon coin.

Recently, the Iron Throne was reported to be six million Gold Dragons in debt to the Iron Bank. Approximately half this debt is owed to House Lannister, the wealthiest house in Westeros, which is a result of the gold mines they control in surrounding regions.

The financial instability of Westeros is a major concern because if the Lannisters do not repay their debts, the Iron Bank will stop issuing loans to all Seven Kingdoms, which could leave you home-loan-less.

Essos

The civilisations of Essos don’t believe in commercial trading or the notion of currency. Instead, they honour the exchange of resources, such as slaves or horses.

The wealth of Essos has been acquired through raiding surrounding areas such as the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay.

Should you buy land in Essos, you might find yourself making interest-free repayments on your loan in the form of horses or slaves.

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Population

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Westeros

It is believed that the population size of Westeros is within the millions, with each Great House segregated from one another.

Essos

Without a controlling government, it is difficult to accurately estimate the population size of Essos. However, it is known that the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay have hundreds of thousands inhabitants, with the Dothraki reaching tens of thousands.

It is believed that the population of Essos is greater than Westeros.

So what would take your fancy? To live amongst the smaller, yet separate Houses of Westeros? Or to be a part of the sparsely populated Essos region? Keep in mind that a sparse population may mean less competition to secure your property.

Geographic Size

Westeros

The continent of Westeros spans from southern Dorne to the Lands of Always Winter in the north.

Although no scale exists on the map, the continent stretches for about 3000 miles from north to south and 900 miles from east to west.

Essos

Essos is significantly larger than Westeros.

The mapped area of Essos extends for approximately 6000 miles east from the Narrow Sea and 3000 miles from north to south.

You may prefer to reside within a more condensed geographic area of Westeros, or perhaps you'd rather more development opportunities should you decide to buy on a larger Essos continent.

Slavery

Westeros

Slavery has been illegal in the Seven Kingdom since the dawn of civilisation. Selling criminals to foreign slavers is a punishable crime in Westeros. People generally look down on selling slaves, as they view their captives as human beings, despite their low social ranking.

This is a thumbs up in terms of recognising basic human rights and contributes to a higher standard of living if you were to call Westeros your new home.

Essos

In contrast, large scale slavery occurs in Essos. In fact, the slave trade is so prevalent in Essos that often slaves are used as a form of currency.

The Dothraki breed their local slave population in Slaver’s Bay and capture slaves on distant shores in exchange for weapons, food or finished goods.
If you are a human rights activist, perhaps investing in Essos may not be a wise decision as it may create angst among your fellow nomadic neighbours.

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Food & Social Inequality

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Westeros

As Westeros has a medieval level of production, they attempt to meet the basic food needs of their society. However, with vast social inequality, wealthy lords host banquets where they indulge with extravagant foods and wines, including exotic spices.

This has created vast political rivalry so if you’re investing in Westeros, you should consider how the distribution of resources could affect your livelihood.

Essos

At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of Essos live below the poverty line in a rural landscape.

The urban poor are deliberately separated from farmlands that produce food, and they obtain just enough bread to keep from starving, supplemented occasionally with “bowls ‘o brown” meat sauce.

However, with rampant trade, the merchants of Essos are believed to be wealthier than the nobles of Westeros, with some capable of conjuring chests of gold and jewels in the “blink of an eye”.

Military Strength

A major consideration for your purchase would be the strength and military capability of each continent to ensure that your property would be safeguarded during warfare.

It may be comforting to know that the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros have enormous armies and innovative military weapons to defend the major Houses. You may also have peace of mind to know that Westeros has the strategic advantage of the Others to protect your land should a major rebellion breakout.

However, the armies of Westeros are currently fighting one another. So if you buy a house in Westeros, there’s a fairly good chance it will be burnt down by raiders.

Essos, on the other hand has the upper hand with fire-breathing dragons and the Unsullied who are trained “not to feel pain” and to “kill at a word”, not to mention the large numbers they are trained in. It is also believed that the Faceless Men of Essos would also be instrumental in dismantling the leadership hierarchy of Westeros during war.

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So you may feel more confident investing in a continent that has superior military strength and capabilities to protect your property from obliteration.

Westeros VS Essos: Where would you live?

Taking into account the socio economic factors of each continent, if you were to step into GoT territory as a first time home buyer, where would you invest?

Would you find yourself taking out a Gold Dragon loan from the Iron Bank and crossing your fingers (and toes) that the Iron Throne debt will be recovered? Or would you turn a blind eye to slavery, and barter with horses and humans to secure land in the East?It appears that Essos is a richer and more economically sustainable continent than Westeros. This is because Essos has always been more developed throughout history as they had established empires long before Westeros began civilization.While Westeros is politically advanced with a superior bureaucracy, the Iron Throne in an alarming rate of debt and has recently experienced both political and financial unrest due to high levels of social inequality.

With successful trade and a stable economy, Essos would offer a higher standard of living for its inhabitants, and would be a better investment choice for those looking to enter the GoT property market.

Living in Westeros

Pros:
  • You can feel morally superior for living in a continent that condemns slavery.
  • If you purchase land down in Dorne, the weather's pretty peachy.
  • Advanced bureaucracy with significant military weapons.
Cons:
  • The Seven Kingdoms are at war.
  • There is political instability as your last three kings have been murdered.
  • Significant debt may mean that the Iron Bank will stop issuing home loans.
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Living in Essos

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Pros:
  • You're far away from the warfare of Westeros, Daenerys Targaryen might have just freed you from slavery, and you might be able to glimpse a dragon.
  • Essos is known to have the best quality of almost every finished good.
  • The continent has been described as a “military and economic superpower.”
Cons:
  • Daenerys left a wake of destruction in her path. And her dragons might eat you.
  • You will have to endure the prevalence of slavery and barter for your land.
  • You will need to accept the high levels of social inequality that exist.

Either way, be prepared; Winter is Coming

References

  • Image sources
  • All information in this article is based on the fictional TV series, Game of Thrones, and should not be used as a guide for investing in property.

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