The grass is greener on the other side of the fence – this is becoming a guiding life principle for increasing numbers of people these days. Sometimes it's only about relocating to a different part of a country, but the most restless types will go to the end of the world to find their own Shangri-La, where they can live for peanuts and call themselves expats oh so proudly. Ideally, it should be a place that's cheap, beautiful and prosperous, but then again, you can't always have your cake and eat it, right? If you've been toying with an idea to leave everything behind and start a simpler life, here's yet another list of cheap countries to live in to broaden your options.
No breakdowns of costs are attempted; just another set of hints for those who seriously think of an expat life and are ready to scour other sources for reliable data. Here's where your dollars will certainly go a long way.
A perfect morning at Nusa Dua beach, Bali. By sektordua
Idyllic islands, fabulous wildlife, legendary sunsets and unsurpassed architectural glory – there must be a price for all this. You think Bali and images of exorbitant prices blur your vision of life in paradise? Mistake! Much as the glossy resorts may rip you off, life in Indonesia is extremely cheap. Whether you fancy living on a tropical island or in the heart of bustling Jakarta, making ends meet should never be problematic. And if it wasn't for oppressive humidity, Indonesia would probably be one of the most sought after destinations to retire. Another catch is that the unemployment rate is very high and the available jobs are usually low paying, so you're a lot better off running an Internet business of your own.
Ybycui National Park. By Staphylococcus
Paraguay still remains quite off the tourist radar, and that's perhaps the first thing that makes it a suitable place to settle down for a while. It is also the least densely populated country in South America - though it may not show in the major cities- so if you have your sights set on becoming a cattle rancher (ranch tourism is becoming increasingly popular), this may be one of the best places to set roots. But the reasons don't end here.
According to the Cost of Living Survey conducted by Mercer, Paraguay is the cheapest country in the world, where a downtown apartment will cost you around $200 per month. Essential commodities are inexpensive and the employment environment for the qualified employee is quite favorable. And there is so much beauty to explore that you may well consider staying here for good.
Uyuni - The biggest salt desert in the world. By gardawind
As one of the most hypnotizing countries of South America and at the same time the most impoverished one, Bolivia offers unforgettable experience for a supremely low price. A furnished apartment outside city center will set you back only $200, everyday necessities are cheap and the range of inexpensive produce amazing.
Bolivia is actually called South America's retirement paradise, and while the natives often struggle with the hardships of life, expats really get a lot more for their money. With natural gems such as Uyuni and Laguna Colorada, vibrant culture, exceptionally endearing people, and a range of climates to suit almost everyone, Bolivia may soon no longer be a target only for adventure travelers, but also for those who dream of an affordable lifestyle revolution.
Luang Prabang. By Allie_Caulfield
You will be surprised at how far your money can go in Laos, especially if you decide to experience the culture as a true insider. Expats usually make a fantastic living by local standards, with much greater purchasing power than in their own countries. If you're ready to further economize on accommodation (you can get an unfurnished single-bedroom apartment for $100) or get your food from local restaurants, you'll be able to afford pleasures such as spa visits, exciting weekend outings and taxis with a few hundred dollars on hand monthly.
Most foreigners choose Vientiane as the retirement location. The capital is an inexpensive and safe city to live in, with the country's best facilities available. The only major drawback is the relatively low quality of medical units and the shortage of well-qualified doctors. Otherwise, Laos is a perfect place for those who enjoy things 'easy' and value people's warm hearts above all comforts.
In the middle of the Pacific. By wazonthehill
If you've been dreaming of an exotic home away from tourist attention, Nauru may well be the place. This smallest island nation on earth is known as a tax haven, with costs of living rated as low to moderate. As far as shopping is concerned, goods are mostly imported, which makes them basic and more expensive than mainland, but the lack of taxes usually makes up for the expenses, especially that the economic downturn has sent the prices down a bit.
Nauru is definitely not a picture perfect tropical island fit for an exhilarating holiday experience, but the quality of entertainment and number of water sports options are enough for quite a pleasurable lifestyle away from the world. Perhaps it should not be the ultimate choice for retirement, but otherwise it is a recommendable destination if you just want to get out of the confines of a block of flats in your urban jungle and see what it feels like to be an expatriate in a place that many people haven't ever heard of.
Thethi National Park. By Krasta_Krau
Quite a newcomer to the popular list of the cheapest countries to live, Albania is definitely not for everyone. If you're looking for a comfortable lifestyle devoid of worries, you'd better think twice before you relocate. But if you're in for making a difference and ready to make it rough, the country will reward you with complex history, wondrous vistas, ethnic foods, low cost of living and some of the warmest hearts in the world.
Albania may not have the conveniences of most western countries and it's probably far less safe, but its reputation of the most impoverished and lawless countries in Europe is to a large extent exaggerated. It's true that corruption is rampant and every bigger transaction needs to be carried out with utmost alertness, but there are endless accounts of British citizens living a happy life in Tirana or Shkoder, so it's definitely doable. Once again, just to be on the safe side – choose Albania only if you don't mind a backpacker style.
Antigua. By szeke
Some say that life in Guatemala is cheap if you're already quite well off in your country. Well, it's true that an ordinary working person without a backup from their homeland bank account will not live like a lord here, but most expats find it exceptionally easy to get by on a few hundred dollars without giving up on entertainment and paid leisure activities. In fact few retirement spots are as attractive and economical as Guatemala (especially Antigua). Go figure one can get a comfortable three bedroom single family home on the beach for $100,000! Food is great, people lovely, climate favorable and cultural heritage astounding. Looks like Guatemala is on its way to the top of the “Most Wanted” list.
Koshi. By TheDreamSky
It usually starts out with a single trekking trip. Then people fall head over heels in love with Nepal and decide to come back for longer. And it's not in the least because of living standards. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest nations, with over 30% of its population living below the poverty line. Floods and landslides plague the most impoverished areas and the economy is almost completely reliant on international aid.
Yet there's something about Nepal that's irresistible and endearing. Most expatriates make it to Kathmandu, where you can live a very high lifestyle for around $500 per person (especially if there are two of you), but there are things that you just have to get used to such as intestinal problems and lack of sewage treatment. Why do people decide to leave their comfortable lives behind and come to Nepal? Perhaps they're drawn by the country's life-changing spirituality, the gentleness of its people or the awe-inspiring landscapes. One thing's for sure: it only takes time until you understand the truth behind the slogan Don't try to change Nepal, let Nepal change you that you read as you land at Katmandu Airport.
Ha Long Bay. By Butch Osborne
There are no words to describe how enchanting Vietnam is. From the kaleidoscopic versatility of its landscape to the culinary delights, the country can be explored to no end, without much damage to the wallet. Quite logically, if a country is a popular budget travel destination, chances are it will make for a splendid permanent abode. And that's certainly true for Vietnam. Of course, the cost of living in urban centers is comparable to major cities elsewhere in the world, but outside metropolises, opportunities for affordable living and business are continually improving. And even if you decide to splurge on a home, you'll save up on food, which can be gotten for a song from street stalls.
Anything you can add to the list?