The cheapest places to live in the world. $500 a month

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.


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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

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) a
re 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.
The world is changing fast and the bargain destinations may soon become less affordable, so go there before it is too late.

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.

There are also countries in Europe and Africa where you can live for $500 a month. So keep checking the blog… the article is coming soon.

P.S. At the time of writing, the exchange rate was $1 – €0.71.



  1. id love to see a complete excel spread sheet with city town and country break down cost for a rtw adventure for ever – live like a king budget middle class american budget for all the country’s out side america, you no room service and the good life for the remainder of my days cost break down.. surely theirs some rtw retired person x pat what has done this post it up id love to see it. nice post

  2. Forget Bali or anywhere in Indonesia as your visa will not allow you to stay more than 30 days and you’ll have to leave the country and come back every month!

  3. I live in Oregon, USA. I have never lived anywhere but the USA. I have seen many comments that are rude directed to American people in general. I would just like to say that is not fair to lump all Americans as pampered, lazy, or whatever you want to say. Treat people as individuals and don’t stereotype. I am sure those who have made these type of comments would not want others to stereotype and lump their race, culture,etc. together. That being said, I would love to visit some of these places, but not sure I want to move to them. I wouldn’t mind spending like 3 months or so. like in the Carribean or somewhere nice and warm near the ocean and nice sandy beaches. That would be a dream for me.

  4. In case anyone sees this, Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America. $4 will get 3/4 the way to a box of Frosted Flakes. Bananas are cheap but you have to be near the banana farms to get good prices. When I lived there in a year ago, you could live like a local(rice and beans, a bed and a roof) on about $800. Housing is the cheapest part but food is so expensive. Anyways just wanted to make sure people knew. Pura Vida Hermanos!

  5. I’m in cambodia and living here on 500 a month is definitely possible. for 200 + 30-40 utilities a month I’ve got AC, hot water, a kitchen, LCD TV and close to markets (and the beach). Food is very cheap. Only low point is medical care, just don’t get hit by a car.

  6. i live in melbourne fla for 50 years now and all they do is screw anybody that does more than ride the milk wagon. then they will bug your house to cover it all up and tell the whole town everything including your bedroom activity. never come to this sh–whole if you have any hopes of anything.

  7. Ive moved to Lima, Peru from NYC, bought a condo and maintenance is $64 a month, food is about $200 a month, Peru’s gastronomy is the best in the world!

  8. I am an american would love to retire to India,, in 2015,, is it possible to live comfortably on 1,000 usd. per month, i’m not a playboy,, i’m more interested in the culture of India,, and I must admit I find the women of India beautiful, as i’m also seeking a wife ,,, would like to hear anybody’s input,, thank you

  9. I read a bunch of these suggestions, not mentioned Ajijic Mexico, the worlds second best climate. People are wonderful, only twice in two years here has a Mexican not said hi back to me, gringos as in the US, lot of them do not. About 10,000 expats here, tons of Canadians.

    I live in a second story apt, $220 US a month, everything included, internet, etc., friends rent around $300 US breakfast included.
    No need for heat here, 70 to 80 almost every day. I make 1,000 US a month, saving up for a trip to Brazil, saving $400 plus a month.
    There are many million dollar houses here, live close to the square no can necessary, bus travel is really good. If you hit YouTube, “visit Ajijic”, about half way through, I am the guy with the beard having coffee.
    I have friends here who are millionaires, some as poor as I am, makes no difference.

  10. i am a dissabled bilingual former teacher on medicare and fixed income. i love todos santps (45 min nort Cabo….Cerrotos beach) and have friends there but now cant swim in surf beach and need medical cate. just want to spend everyfay in water and volunteer with adolescents instead of just drs tv and court…WC case so medicare setaside an an issue. i am on dissability but it is teachers so i can live out of usa. Other option is Puerto Rico where i get medicare but i live in ca and wonder of air faore is different than to it possible to rent a room (to live) within walling distance from a swim beach in puerto rico for 3 or 4 a month? Is it super humid? i love dessert beach climate of Cabo. Is Puerto Rico similar? Although been to friends in Todos Mexico … anyone have website ideas of how to tent there?gracias

  11. Italy is beautiful but too expensive. especially if you wanto to practise some water sports at the beach. I promised myself never to spend a penny in Italy anymore.I’m off to Venezuela next year, I know people there at least ‘ll get some dental cosmetic work done. There is some Dangerous areas to avoid though. I’ts cheap to practise water sports. and of course I’ll live on tropial fruit, Good way to detox. My friend told me if you don’t go to posh hotels and live like the locals ie rent a self catering flat you can have a nice stay +doing something constructive to me that means fixing my mouth, In Europe you need a morgage to fix yout teeth. Cheers guys

  12. This list is so far from true today. The more expensive are the Central American countries. South America Is still fairly cheap. I know you will not live on less than $500 a month and in 2009 you would not either if you wanted any social life at all. That is the price of a one room apartment with the small kitchen livingroom and bedroom all in one. A small bath with shower. You will sit in your apt. if you want internet or satellite TV because they are very expensive in other countries. I live in South America and I know people who live in Asian countries so I do have a good Idea that I write the truth.

  13. I’m a South African and I live in a house in a stunning seaside town for around $400 a month. Every visitor to my country finds it very cheap, and we have all the modern amenities. This isn’t Darkest Africa.

  14. I lived in Chiang Mai from 2006 to 2011 – 5 and 1/2 years. I paid about $175.00 per month at Pacific Mansions. One Room – but very large – about 20′ by 40′. That included some maid service and total cleaning once a month. One could live there on $1,000 USD per month (and some do). But $1800 allows frequent travel – I rented a automatic motorcycle for $30.00 per month and eventually bought a new Honda Click for about $1,200 and sold it for about $700.00 5 years later. for those interest I authored the book Thailand Tales available on amazon – and yes the ladies are great!

  15. ho una pensione di 1000 euro,cosa posso fare ,essendo ultrasett.per andare a vivere in questi paesi dove la vita costa poco?e poi si trovano le cure per una malattia cronica che ho?

  16. I was in Costa Rica for three months and can tell you that you can live cheaply if you room with others. But Ticos are NOT that friendly, and as an American they are trying to get your money. Theft is a risk when you travel by bus. If you leave something somewhere, forget it, it will be gone when you return. And, most of the food is bad, poor or mediocre at best. If you are a well-off tourist or wealthy American…of course, you can find good food, and foreign communities to live in….but that requires a LOT more money. I did NOT like Costa Rica for a lot of these reason. The best experience is staying on the beach of course and you can probably find a cheap accommodation in some places but if you are used to eating decent to good food, you budget will be MUCH higher.

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