Are you tired of busy cities, crowded streets, high rents and almost non-affordable mortgage? Well…there are places in the world where you can live well for less. The cheapest places to live are also the most beautiful and exotic destinations. So why not make your dreams come true, pack your bags and move to one of those paradise locations, if not for a lifetime, then at least for a year or two?
There are two simple rules to follow while searching for low cost destinations. Firstly: if you find a place cheap enough to travel to, then most probably you will also find it cheap to live in. Secondly: wherever you are, the further from the big cities and large agglomerations, the cheaper it gets.
Of course ‘cheap’ is a very relative concept, and what is cheap for you may not be cheap for people living some place else in the world.
But if ‘cheap’ means spending just a few dollars/euro/pounds a day, then these locations in Asia and Central America may interest you…
Have you ever been to Thailand? Do you remember that feeling of paying $1 (€0.70) for a glass of beer? Did you ask yourself then what it would feel like to pay that much for a drink back home? Or the other way round… what would it feel like to enjoy such prices on a daily basis? If your answers are yes, yes, yes …then why not consider moving to the Land of Smiles for a while?
Life is short and, really, no one forces you to spend your days sitting in the office with a computer as your best friend. Think about sandy beaches, constant sunshine and excellent food and realize that you can have it all for less than $500 (€350) a month.
Of course this amount will not pay a beach apartment but you can easily find cheap accommodation in places as beautiful as Chang Mai, up north, where you will pay around $30 (€21) a month for a small flat. Nearer the coast, a room in the apartments runs at roughly $90 (€63) upwards.
Cooking at home will cost you nothing as fruits, vegetables and meat at the local markets fall into the budget category. If you are too lazy to cook then try excellent Thai food from street-side food stalls. You can get spicy chicken with rice or noodles for around $1 (€0.70). Spending around $200 (€142) for food a month, you still have around $200 (€142) spare to enjoy local trips, restaurants, parties and some small shopping.
Thinking about Cambodian history, the bloody regime of Pol Pot and poverty, no one would dare to call the country a paradise, but in terms of living cost Cambodia rivals Thailand. It does not have as great beaches as its Thai neighbor but, well, it is not all about beaches, right? You can easily live for less than $500 (€350) in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh.
As there are more and more foreigners living in the town, the accommodation prices are getting higher – it would be hard to find something below $200 (€142) a month, but you can always reduce this cost by sharing a flat with a friend or some long-term travelers.
With $300 (€213) left, you can easily get by in the country. The food prices are similar or lower than in Thailand. Eating in local restaurants will cost you around $2 (€1.40) a meal and $1 (€0.70) a beer but if you really aim to trim your budget, you can try food from street stalls- simple but delicious. Traveling by tuk tuk will cost you several bucks/euro a day.
Living in Phnom Penh, the town of no McDonald’s and Starbucks, may be a life changing experience for you. Be aware that Cambodians are extremely poor but modest people, so treat them with respect. Getting to know a few natives may help you to understand the complex history and tough life in the country. You can always teach English or get involved with some non-governmental organizations to help change the reality around you.
For visa details read an article at www.shelteroffshore.com
You will find similar costs of living in nearby countries such as Vietnam and Laos .
Another exotic destination where life will cost you not more than $500 (€350) a month is the Philippines. Following the rule of getting away from big cities, Manila is not an option, as a rent prices start at $360 (€255) a month. But if you head for Cebu, one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, with sandy beaches, golf courses and great shopping, you can get an apartment for $150 (€106) a month. In other bustling towns, such as Damaguete City, you can easily rent a room for around $40 (€28) per month.
Food is also cheap. $200 (€142) a month will be absolutely enough to provide you with all necessities including alcohol and tobacco – a big glass of beer and pack of cigarettes cost $0.55 (€0.39) and $0.80 (€0.57) respectively.
Moreover, the Philippines offer a special resident retiree visa that you can get as early as at the age of 35, but you need to deposit $50K in a bank there. At the age of 50 and above you have to deposit $10K and prove a monthly pension of $800 single ($1K couple).
Malaysia , has a similar retiree offer called My Second Home program.
Just a few dollars/euro would be enough to survive in Costa Rica. And surviving in Costa Rica may be just a pleasure. The land has 12 different climatic zones and abundant wildlife, but in general, the weather is hot tropical and the natives (called Ticos) are very spirited and friendly people.
Prices in San José are low – the cost of goods and services is among the lowest of all cities throughout the world. You can easily live on $500-$600 (€350-€425) a month if you share a house or flat with a partner or a friend.
Obviously the further away from San José, the lower the cost of housing. Around 75 km (50 miles) from the town you can rent a small or medium house for $250 (€177) a month.
In the restaurants you can have an excellent meal with desert for about $4.00 – $5.00 (€2.8-€3.5). And if you buy food at local markets and from the street vendors, you pay less- a bunch of bananas will cost you $0.50 (€0.30) or less. Cigarettes are only about $1.20 (€0.90) per pack. In general, the prices in supermarkets are 30% higher than on the local markets and street stalls.
While in Costa Rica you can learn or develop your surfing skills as the coast has great breaks and excellent surf conditions. And if you’re not too lazy, you can learn or practice your Spanish. Lessons will cost you much less than back home or in Spain.
To find out more check the blog by Tim, who has lived in the country for several years. It seems that he knows a lot about living in Costa Rica.
If you seriously think about moving to Costa Rica, you should also read ‘Living Abroad in Costa Rica’ by Erin Van Rheenen, who herself moved to live there and wrote from experience. The book explores the country’s history and culture, describes the nation and, of course, suggests a reconnaissance trip to Costa Rica before you decide to move.
Your dream of a personal heaven for a bargain price may also come true in Belize, which is considered one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. It has it all: great beaches, subtropical climate, and diverse wildlife. The official language in the country is English – that makes things simpler, doesn’t it?
The country is also a paradise for scuba diving and snorkeling lovers .The Belize Barrier Reef offers 127 offshore Cayes (islands) where you will find the best preserved marine ecosystems in the world.
The costs of living are similar to those in Costa Rica. For a large house in Cayo district, a one-hour drive west from Belize City, you may pay $300 (€210) a month and if you share with two other friends, it is only $100 (€70)!!!
Groceries are cheap when bought locally. Imported stuff is in general 50% more expensive so if you want to trim your budget, you should shop at local markets and buy from street vendors.
If you’re 45 or more you may consider retiring to Belize. The Retired Person’s Incentive Program may allow you to live a tax free lifestyle, which should definitely help you save up a few bucks.
Before you pack your bags, be aware that the country has dry and wet seasons so the weather is not always as perfect as you wish. The wet season starts in May and ends in October – it rains all the time and the hurricanes may occur, so if you want to spend just a few months in the country, go between November and April.
And don’t forget that the best things in life are for free. Living abroad for less than $500 a month is great but what counts most is the people you meet, friends you make, experience you acquire, places you see, tastes and smells you learn to recognize.
P.S. At the time of writing, the exchange rate was $1 – €0.71.