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Finding countries that are fun to travel in is easy, but finding a place that you can really settle down for a bit and call home is a whole other ball game. You need to make sure that the place you choose is affordable, has good health care, suitable grocery stores and plenty to keep you busy. We’ve been to 45 countries, and only a few of those destinations are places that we could actually live.

Sure, we return time and time again to the cities/countries we love, but that doesn’t mean that we could live there. Here are 5 affordable countries (and their best cities) that we recommend you immigrate to! (In no particular order)

Thailand:

Costs
Basic 1-Bedroom Apartment in Bangkok

Street Meal

Meal In A Restaurant

$450 USD / Month

$1.50

$5

We love Thailand and have spent months on end in this country. From chaotic Bangkok and party crazed Koh Phangan, to chilled out Koh Kood and sublime Koh Lanta, Thailand has enough to keep you busy, while giving  you all of the amenities that you need when living somewhere.

We found a beautiful, modern, one-bedroom bungalow on Koh Phangan, close to the water for just $300 USD / month. We have friends who have a luxurious downtown apartment in Bangkok for just $450/month. Thailand is definitely affordable, and with fabulous local foods and western grocery stores like Tesco and Lotus, you can find pretty much any food your heart desires.

Street food in Thailand is very inexpensive and delicious, but buying groceries is unbelievably cheap. We bought 6 chicken breasts on sale at Tesco for $3! Affordability, friendly people, complete safety and natural beauty all add up to make Thailand the perfect place to relocate!

koh phangan thailand

Mexico:

Costs
Basic 1-Bedroom Apartment in Merida

Street Meal

Meal In a Restaurant

$350 USD / Month

$2

$6

Mexico is a great, affordable country to move to. Stunning mountain towns like San Cristobal offer culture and nature, as well as funky cafes, cobble stone pedestrian streets and delicious wine bars. Bustling cities like Merida and Mexico City, have all of the action and nightlife a city-slicker could ask for. Even in Merida, a larger city where prices are higher, we found a nice one bedroom apartment for just $400 USD / month. Grocery stores here have it all and eating out on the street is super cheap.

There are also ultra-laid back islands like Holbox, where the pace of life slows and everyone gets around on golf-carts. If we were to relocate to Mexico, we would probably choose one of the smaller cities like Valladolid or San Cristobal. Both have the perfect mix of authenticity and necessity and there’s enough entertainment to keep you busy for a few weeks, months or years.

beers in mexico

3. Malaysia:

Costs
Basic 1-Bedroom Apartment in Kuala Lumpur

Street Meal

Meal In a Restaurant

$600 USD / Month

$2

$5

This place has everything you could ever ask for in a long-term home. For those who enjoy cities, Kuala Lumpur is the perfect place to live an urban life. With wild, all-night bars, a great metro system, cheap food and good budget apartments, you can’t go wrong in KL. But there are many more places to choose from. Check out duty-free Langkawi Island where the booze is cheap, the accommodation is of great value and there are lots of cool activities to keep you busy, from go-carts, to a floating suspension bridge in the mountains.

backpacking kuala lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

If you’re looking for a really chilled out, quiet life abroad, you can head to one of Malaysia’s many islands.

The Perhentians in the north are a popular tourist destination with stunning white sand beaches, while Kapas and Tiamen are perfect for those who want to escape the bustle of the mainland. Looking for a metropolitan feel without sticking to the capital? Georgetown is a funky, vibrant city with all of the nightlife, action and amenities of the capital, but with a completely different vibe. The greatest part about living in Malaysia is that you can base yourself in any of the above listed cities, and then take cheap flights to relax for a few days elsewhere in the country.

4. Georgia:

Costs
Basic 1-Bedroom Apartment in Tbilisi

Street Meal

Meal In a Restaurant

$350 USD / Month

$3

$7

For us, if we were to move to Georgia, we would definitely set up shop in the nation’s capital, Tbilisi. With a mix of ultra-modern and old-world architecture, stunning tree-filled parks, riverside walkways and shaded pedestrian-only back streets, Tbilisi is one of our favourite cities in the world. Sip an ice-cold mug of beer while watching street performers downtown, or enter a medieval winery and taste some of the oldest vintages on earth. Tbilisi has all of the modern necessities you need, but with a historical backbone that could keep any visitor intrigued. But you don’t need to stay in Tbilisi to enjoy this country, there is a huge expanse of countryside where you can explore and get a good feel for the real, rural Georgia.

tbilisi georgia

5. Turkey:

Costs
Basic 1-Bedroom Apartment in Istanbul

Street Meal

Meal In a Restaurant

$550 USD / Month

$3

$8

There are numerous cities in Turkey that we would be happy to call home. From the eastern cities of Van and Kars, to the lively capital of Istanbul, Turkey is a fantastically diverse country with beaches, bars, architecture and history that would be hard to match anywhere else. If we moved to Turkey, we’d probably settle in the nation’s liberal capital of Istanbul, where there’s a good mix of traditional Islam and a more modern, western mentality.

We love the sound of the mezzanine’s call to prayer early in the morning, but we also like to be able to wear t-shirts and shorts when we want to. Istanbul is a place where you can do just that. We enjoy having drinks on the Bosphorus Bridge at sunset, and exploring ancient behemoth mosques like Hagia Sophia, but it’s Istanbul’s buzzing cross-continental vibe that really sets this diverse metropolis apart from anywhere else. Accommodation is affordable in Istanbul, but you can find even better value in other cities like Gaziantep, Gerome and Sanliurfa.

travel in turkey
The stunning Ayasofya Mosque in Istanbul

Places Worth An Honorable Mention

  • Indonesia – Cheap, fun and lush
  • China – Great place to teach English!
  • India – Goa is calm (for India), liberal and beautiful
  • Belize – Uber-laid back islands, quiet and funky
  • Greece – Lots to see & do, a good mix of beach, bar, outdoors and history.

Conclusion

We’ve been to quite a few countries that we could see ourselves living in, but as you can tell by this post, it really comes down to the individual towns, cities and villages. The local people have a huge impact on our idea of a life-worthy destination, but so too does cost and comfort. If there’s anything we’ve learned from our time both living and travelling abroad, it’s to find your long-term accommodation when you arrive, not on the internet beforehand.

Hotel rooms can be booked in advance with no issues, but apartments found online are almost always vacation rentals and are therefore over-priced. Not only do online apartment rental sites charge hefty service fees, but the owners that use them are usually targeting tourists and short-let tenants. Show up, find your apartment and get a steal of a deal.

living in china
Our Apartment in China, $350 USD / Month. Cheap because we found it on arrival!

We love living in new countries and experiencing cultures first hand, rather than just passing through. Travelling is a great way to get a taste for lots of different cultures and learn a lot about the world and its citizens, but living somewhere is a unique experience that allows you form a closer relationship with the places you visit and the people you meet.

We haven’t been to many places where we could see ourselves living long-term… have you? Tell us where you could see yourself setting up a life in the comments below!

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5 Affordable Countries Worth Moving To

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Nick Wharton

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Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. Nick’s advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes.

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49 thoughts on “5 Affordable Countries Worth Moving To

  1. This post comes exactly at the right moment as I just booked my flight to Mexico in the end of November. I’m flying to Cancun, so I’m probably staying somewhere in the south for the first weeks or months. But I’m still not quite sure where exactly. I just know that it probably won’t be Cancun or Playa del Carmen. I’d actually prefer a city with access to the sea. If you have any recommendations let me know 😉

  2. During my year abroad I rented an apartment for a month in Pattaya, Thailand, and Cartagena, Colombia. I could live in both of these countries (though I wouldn’t choose to live in Pattaya). Renting an apartment is such a great way to really experience a city. Since you two are so well-traveled I’m very intrigued by the countries that have made into your top five. I’ve never been to Georgia or Turkey, but I completely agree that Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand are all countries I could see myself living in. All three are beautiful, have amazing food and they’re incredibly affordable.

  3. Hi Guys,

    Thailand is my fave country on earth and this is one reason.

    In Chiang Mai we rented a luxury, spacious apartment for $600 a month. In Hoboken, NJ, the same apartment would have went for $2500 easy. Stunning, what you can get in Thailand and especially CM.

    We also ate lunch for 2, for $2 daily in Chiang Mai at the nicest little veggie restaurant.

    When we went with a super nice but smaller, more simple apartment we paid $350 a month. Love Thailand, and yep, Koh Lanta is paradise and so inexpensive as well.

    If you’re willing to look around for a bit, do some shopping and simply travel a bit more you’ll find some amazingly great bargains. The cool part is some of these bargains are in some of the best countries and cities on earth.

    Pound for pound, CM is one of the top cities on earth to me. So many Western creature comforts yet the Thai culture permeates throughout the town, especially where we stay, in the SouthWest part of town.

    Thanks guys. Smart breakdown.

    Tweeting soon.

    Signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.

    Ryan

  4. I did not see Georgia coming! Nice to have alternatives to all the mainstream options presented on so many other sites. I’m really looking forward to (eventually) exploring Mexico, and probably settling down in one of the towns you mention for a month or so.

  5. Very cool article with great tips!

    My initial idea has always been Andalucia, Spain, but obviously that is not that dirt-cheap. Bali is another option, Thailand or Mexico.

  6. Hey!
    That’s so exciting! We loved Valladolid and Merida (although Merida is quite busy) Progresso Beach is just a 20 minute ride away from Merida and Valladolid has Cenotes near by for swimming. However, if you want to be right on the water, Isla Holbox is gorgeous! Very chilled out though, so if you’re looking for more action, you could check out Isla Mujeras (we never went there though). Tulum has a gorgeous beach, but the town is ugly!

    Enjoy Mexico, it’s awesome 🙂

  7. Thanks Justine 🙂 We’d love to visit Colombia and are planning to in 2015, interesting to hear that’s somewhere you could live! I totally agree, renting an apartment is a great way to get to know a country better, and its people.

    Cheers and happy travels.

  8. Thanks for the info Ryan! We’ve heard of many digital nomads setting up shop in Chiang Mai and we’re not surprised why! It’s awesome there, loved visiting when we were there in 2009. Thanks for sharing about the apartment rental costs – very affordable 🙂

    Cheers!

  9. Yes, there are many countries we could definitely move to, including where we are right now (Grenada), but they aren’t very affordable and therefore didn’t make the list! Spain would be a great place to move!

    Thanks for the comment.

  10. Stef! I just spent a month in playa Tulum it is my favorite place I’ve ever been! I am traveling for a year around the world but looking forward also to being back in Tulum again! Agreed, city is bad, but the beach town is great! And you can rent a beach bungalow for around 300$/month!! Have south fun!!

  11. South of Spain has my heart- been here a month! Tarifa is amazing. As is Marbella. And Cordoba! All of it is so good. Cheap, great people, amazing beaches…. Never want to leave! Also excited though for Thailand, thanks for this article!

  12. Awesome list! We love Thailand and as Ryan mentioned, Chiang Mai is one of the places we like the most as a base so far. Although, is becoming a big hype nowadays… We can also recommend Prague. We stayed there this summer in August, paying a room for 230 euros 15 minutes by tram from the centre. Eating our might be a bit pricey compared to Thai standards, but unlike in Thailand, majority of flats in Prague have a kitchen so you can save lots of money by doing your shopping and cooking yourself. It shouldn’t cost you more than 200 euros per month in total for the all food.
    Oh, Tbilisi, how much we’d like to visit Georgia!

  13. Georgia is one of our dream-country to live. We´ve been there seceral times, and we want more and more every time! But also Portugal (where we are living now) is quite affordable – maybe not that cheap like the countries above but still nice.

    Have a nice day,
    Kasia and Marek from http://www.aguadecoco.pl

  14. The South of Spain is somewhere we really could see ourselves living for a while! We have been to Rhonda and Estepona and really enjoyed it, but glad to hear those areas are cheap too 🙂

    Cheers.

  15. Thanks for recommending Prague! That sounds much more affordable than I thought it would be. We’re really interested in Chiang Mai as well, although I too have heard it’s becoming more busy with digital nomads. Having a kitchen is a must!

    Cheers 🙂

  16. Great post!
    We are in Chiang Mai at the moment and yes, more and more digital nomads are visiting this place. But can you blame them? It’s beautiful here and the people are wonderful. This is only the second city we’ve been to in our adventure and I’m sure we will find more wonderful places that you could just stay and live forever. Again, amazing post and we are excited to visit the places that you’ve mentioned.

  17. None of these are cheap but the places I could see myself living in long term are Vancouver or Victoria or one of the Gulf Islands of Canada, Cape Town in South Africa, Waiheke Island or Wanaka or Napier in New Zealand, Sydney in Australia (where I live now), San Franciso or Hawaii in the US and pretty much any beautiful village in Greece, France and Andalusia in Spain.

  18. I didn’t realize Georgia was so cheap, the fact that I haven’t been there yet probably explains why, but people don’t usually list it as a country to relocate to. Interesting!

  19. Excellent list of Countries and all have definitely been added to my top 10 as I plan to leave South Africa in Jan 2015 for a RTW trip and work my way up through Africa then over to Turkey, Greece and beyond.
    A well thought out brief description of places and things to do – this always assists as it gives one an introduction into the new regions.
    Also great that you have listed the average living(renting) and street food price. This always helps when one arrives at a destination and has some idea of what the general local costs are.

    BTW: just for the record,
    South Africa would definitely rate be up there as far as affordability is concerned particularly with the Dollar/Rand exchange at the moment…. and, of course, it is a great holiday destination(provided you keep to the crime-free areas)

    Thanx for taking time out to show us the way…
    Happy Travels & stay safe.

  20. Good timing on this. Headed to Turkey next month followed shortly by Thailand.

    All the times you’ve stayed in Bangkok, did you book your accommodations in advance or did you show up and shop around? Any problems with the produce from the supermarkets or markets for that matter? Were told to avoid it before we left, but were also told to avoid fresh produce while we were in South America and bought plenty of that during our three months there with no issues.

  21. Hey Franca!
    Not many people know about/have been to Georgia, but the capital is really quite interesting, lively and awesome! We loved it there..hopefully you and Dale can travel there one day 🙂

    Cheers!

  22. Hey Reg!

    We’re glad you found this article useful. Wow, what an epic journey you have planned, that’s so exciting.

    We’ve been to South Africa actually. We rented a car and drove for 5 weeks 🙂 We LOVED it. We had no issues, although were aware of the crime. I didn’t realize the exchange was so good between the rand and dollar right now, when we were there it was like 7 ZAR to the dollar or something!, interesting 😉

    Happy travels.

  23. Hi Mark,

    That’s great that you’re going to Turkey and Thailand 🙂 Both are awesome countries.

    We’ve shown up and looked for rooms and we’ve booked ahead. We prefer to book ahead now as we hate walking around and being turned down at each guesthouse ’cause they are full! Check out hostel world or Agoda: http://tidd.ly/d691d3d4 We’ve found some pretty cheap deals using these engines 🙂

    As for the produce, we eat anything and everything and yes, we’ve been sick a few times, but would never want to miss out on local foods. Many of the fruits are ones that you would peel, so that would make them ok. As for the veg, if you cook it, it’s fine, and if you’re really concerned, you could wash them off with purified water before eating.

    Enjoy 🙂

  24. “Show up, find your apartment and get a steal of a deal.” is advice I hear over and over.

    In some ways I am creative, but in finding lodging, I think I must not be. What specific advice on doing this “Show up, find your apartment and get a steal of a deal.” can you provide.

    I wake up after my first night in the hotel, then what? I can walk around and get a feel for the downtown and few areas. How to find these apartments and apply to them I don’t really understand. If I just go by the ones I get lucky enough to pass by and notice that hardly seems likely to be a super great method.

    In some cities maybe I can ask at co-location workspaces for digital nomads. The main requirement I have that may be beyond others is good broadband (I want to be able to work from my house) – say 1.5 Gb a day (which in many places rules out a cell phone plan – maybe in Hong Kong… a cell plan would work).

    I don’t need to minimize my expenses as far as possible. Double the budget rates you can see online for Thailand, Vietnam, Bali… would be fine: I am willing to pay more for a place that is a bit nicer. I am thinking of staying in places 1-2 months.

  25. Hi John,

    It sounds like you have the right idea by staying 1-2 months in a place!

    What we suggest doing is like you said, walk around and see what you can come up with. Often times, there will be signs on apartment windows. We were driving down the street in Koh Phagnan and saw a sign propped up on the lawn of a gorgeous bungalow “For Rent” and it had a phone number, so we called it. Turned out to be $300 for a month and it was lovely!

    Another idea is to go to the nearby cafes, restaurants or community centers and look for postings on bulletin boards. Many people will post notices of an apartment for rent. Also, ask around. Talk to locals and see if they know of any availabilities.

    You could also get a newspaper and look for local listings.

    I hope this helps 🙂

    I hope this helps!

  26. Thanks that is helpful. My only experience walking around and calling has been in Malaysia and I called almost 10 places and NEVER got a call back (in 3 different cities). It did explain why they weren’t rented but still it results in me being a bit concerned about finding place. Ill try your ideas.

  27. Our first day there I was kind of regretting the decision. I’m not a big fan of crowds and walking through Prague 1 (the central area with most of the tourist attractions) was about all I could handle. But once we got that out of the way and started exploring the rest of the city it was great.

    We stayed in a nice neighborhood in Prague 6 with plenty of restaurants & bars and no crowds. There are quite little beer gardens all over the place. At night the crowds thin out and you can wander around. People gather along the Vltava and bring their own wine and beer. The trams run 24 hours so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in the city. We had a great time and will hopefully be writing about it soon. 😀

  28. You’re right, India would be cheap! The only thing is that there aren’t a lot of places there that we would want to live, except for Goa. We love travelling in India, but living there might be a bit mental! 🙂

    Cheers and happy travels.

  29. Al these places seem to be amazing! I love to travel and when I choose a place to go, I prefer to move there for a while so I can really enjoy the place and the culture! I have never been in Mexico and I feel that I need to consider going there for my next trip. Thailand is also amazing and it is definitely worth it to move there. Thanks for the information! Excellent post!

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