In The Expanse we learn that the majority of people living on Earth have very little opportunity and survive with a basic income in squalor.

How difficult would it be for one of these 'average' people to emigrate from Earth to either Mars or the Belt?

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    It is worth noting that during the early colonization of those parts of the America controlled by the British is was not unusual for poor people to accept a period of indentured servitude to pay for their passage (i.e. they couldn't muster the resources to pay for the travel). Later (once steamships were a thing) steerage passage was within the reach of the poor who had some resources if they were willing to arrive broke, but that was accomplished by packing them in like cargo. Discuss. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 18:48
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    The issue of getting off Earth is discussed in the short story The Churn, which shows how Amos got off planet. It addresses your question exactly. Enjoy! Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 19:55
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    @JamesfromNZ Good to know thanks! I'll have a look into it.
    – Servitor
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 20:05
  • I am not sure whatever belt would be preferable. Show suggests that they would have also a very little opportunity but without a basic income. Mars attitude was not clear but given their behavior toward Belters it is dubious whatever they would be more happy about other poor people. Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


Interesting this one never got an actual answer. As noted in the comments, this is (at least partially) addressed in the short story The Churn.

The short answer is - not easy. If you have enough qualification (and what this might be is not specified, other than that there is an age limit), it could take a decade to get selected for an apprenticeship off Earth:

“Anyway, no one’s taking me for a vocational. Waiting lists for that are eight, ten years long. By the time I came up, I’d have aged out.”

and later

“You’re shipping out to Luna on the noon launch from Bogotá station, Mr. Burton. These apprenticeship programs are tough to get into, and last I heard, they take it mighty poorly if you miss your berth. Might wind up waiting another decade to get back on the list.”

As a minimum you need to be registered as a citizen and not living off-book:

“Starting from here? I’d never make it. I’m not even a registered birth.”

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