5 Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life!

5 Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life!

While everyone’s definition of ‘cheap’ and ‘high quality of life’ may differ, these countries offer an affordable cost of living certainly in comparison to most developed countries whilst still having a huge amount to offer. A budget of US$1000/month (€850, £750) should suffice in all of them if you are savvy while for a little more you can live very comfortably indeed.


Chile

Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life

image via Carlos Y, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While there are cheaper countries in South America, most have major drawbacks in terms of living standards. Chile gets the balance about right. It offers better value than Brazil or Uruguay and probably Argentina whilst it’s generally regarded as one of the safest countries in Latin America.

Even the capital Santiago is free from many of the hassles that other big cities in the region throw-up and it’s location on the edge of the Andes yet still only 100km from the coast is a real draw. In theory you could ski and surf on the same day! The same is true of much of the country given its ridiculously skinny shape and in terms of natural beauty, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Getting around the country can be a challenge given the size of it but transport links are improving and flights are better value than they are in much of South America. Throw into the mix fantastic wines and cultured cities such as Valparaíso and the case for living in Chile is a compelling one.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Valparaiso – $300/month

More on the cost of travel and typical expenses in Chile


Portugal

cost of living in Portugal

Portugal offers Western European living at a fraction of the cost of other countries in the ‘expensive part’ of Europe. It was affected badly by the economic crisis and that has contributed to prices staying low and it’s now cheaper to live in Portugal than some of the more developed Eastern European countries.

For a capital city, Lisbon offers fantastic value, while heading South to the Algarve will allow you to take advantage of a great sunny climate that few parts of Europe can rival. The standard of English is also very high, certainly in comparison to neighbouring Spain or Italy so it’s pretty easy to adapt to life in Portugal.

Everything from eating and drinking out, to renting a flat remains remarkably good value while there are regular train and bus links that connect the whole country, which is of a similar shape to Chile but on a much smaller scale.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Lisbon – $550/month (Rooms in shared flats can easily be found for under $300)

Read more on typical prices and costs in Portugal


Thailand

thailand living

In terms of countries that are cheap to live in but also offer a high quality of life, Thailand is tough to beat. It remains an immensely popular place with foreigners and while tourists and backpackers continue to arrive in their droves, it’s also increasingly becoming a popular place to live.

Almost certainly the cheapest of the five countries on this list, you’ll have more money leftover to spend on trips to other parts of Southeast Asia, whilst eating out practically every night is a realistic option, certainly if you’re a fan of the local cuisine.

There’s also a great choice of possible bases. Sun worshippers may want to head to the islands in the South, while city-lovers will struggle to beat the buzz of 24-7 Bangkok. Perhaps the most popular place to live these days with digital nomads and expats is Chiang Mai, which is ridiculously cheap even by Thai standards and offers a more tranquil pace of life than the capital which has its downsides.

Overall Thailand offers a nice blend of Asian exoticism but with all the comforts of home thrown in, and in terms of healthcare and general infrastructure it’s far superior to neighbouring countries like Laos and Cambodia.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Chiang Mai – $250/month

More info on the cost of things in Thailand here!


Greece

Living in Greece

image via Nick Fewings, under CC BY 2.0

Greece is another European country hit very hard by the economic crisis and unlike most of the others, its recovery has been a painfully slow process. If you are a freelancer or working from home though it offers an affordable and very pleasant lifestyle.

With an array of different islands and everything from quiet fishing villages to lively cities, there’s plenty of choice when deciding where to live. The Mediterranean climate and diet certainly offers the opportunity to lead a healthy, relaxed life.

Much-like Portugal, it offers life in a developed European country with a rich culture and history, on a budget much lower than you’d need in the UK, France or Germany for example while it also compares favourably to Spain and Italy with rental prices particularly good value.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Athens – $350/month

Read about the cost of travel in Greece


Taiwan

Best countries to live in on a budget

image via Ludovic Lubeigt, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Although Chinese-Taiwanese ties remain a constant talking point, political tensions don’t really have any impact on daily life and moving to Taiwan offers the best of both worlds for anyone looking to get a taste of Oriental culture without some of the frustrations that life in mainland China can bring.

Taiwan is a vibrant island of many different influences and is certainly the most challenging of the countries in this article to adapt to but if it’s an adventure and new experiences you’re after, then that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The language barrier is certainly an issue but it’s also reassuring to know there’s always teaching English if you’re looking to make a bit of cash. Other benefits, particularly for digital nomad types, is that it has extraordinarily good internet with virtually the whole country seeming to offer a wifi connection. Meanwhile it’s also a very safe place with almost no crime.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Taipei – $400/month


There are more ideas for cheap countries to move to here. Meanwhile a few years ago we made this long list of the budget living costs in 125 cities around the world, which you may also want co check out!
Which other countries do you think belong on this list? Use the comments below to let us know 🙂

This article was published in September 2017.


 

Budget & Student Living Costs around the World

Budget & Student Living Costs in 125 Cities around the World

NOTE – This article was published in 2014. Costs may have changed slightly since.

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to see more of the world is to actually take yourself off and live somewhere. Not only will you get a more authentic experience and really get to know a city or country, you can also use it as a base for exploring a region.

Unless you are a student on an Erasmus program or have a lot of cash saved up you will probably need a job but finding work abroad is easier than you might think. Teaching English is a possibility pretty much anywhere and if you are a native speaker or even if you’re not (if you’re reading and understanding all of this in English then you should be fine) then you have a good shot at finding work. In some places you will need a TEFL qualification but you can get this in 4 weeks and can do it in a large number of destinations around the world.

You may have seen our budget travel table but it is important you realise that actually living somewhere is considerably cheaper than travelling there. Renting a room long-term should be cheaper than staying in a hostel. Eating and drinking is cheaper once you’ve got to know a city and know where the value is. You also won’t be forking out for long-distance bus or train tickets every few days.

Our budget is based on:

Student living costs around the world but you don’t have to be a student to live on a budget! Here is a guide to what we consider to be realistic on the figures below:

-renting a room in a shared 3/4 bedroom flat (including gas/water/wifi expenses) in a student area or reasonably cheap district but not one so dangerous where you will be risking your life on a daily basis.

-eating out perhaps a couple of times a week but primarily cooking at home in your flat.

-one big night out per week on average and a couple of other more casual evenings out.

-a bit of cash for entertainment each week (going to the cinema/gigs/museums etc).

-a bit of cash for other necessities (toiletries, toilet roll, cleaning stuff and things like that)

-a monthly travel pass on the cities transport network or the likely cost of travelling in the city most days in a month.

It works out as roughly that of a student budget or perhaps a little bit more in most cities. It should be useful for anyone wondering how much it costs to study abroad or curious about the living costs for Erasmus students in cities in Europe. For everyone else, it may help you decide where you can afford to live.

You can find out more precise info about how we calculated this table and how to more precisely work out how much YOU are likely to spend in any of these cities at the bottom of the page.

 


Student living costs around the world

(all figures are estimates and in Euros/month)

most expensive city in the world

Oslo, Norway – the most expensive city to live.

OSLO €1590
LONDON €1530
SINGAPORE €1410
NEW YORK €1350
HONG KONG €1313
SYDNEY €1305
SAN FRANCISCO €1290
BRISBANE €1268
STOCKHOLM €1230
PARIS €1223
COPENHAGEN €1215
MELBOURNE €1200
WELLINGTON €1170
AMSTERDAM €1148
TOKYO €1140
HELSINKI €1133
HONOLULU €1133
AUCKLAND €1125
DUBLIN €1125
BIRMINGHAM (England) €1088
TORONTO €1043
REYKJAVIK €1035
MUNICH €1020
VANCOUVER €998
FRANKFURT €990
TEL AVIV €990
LOS ANGELES €983
CHICAGO €983
PHILADELPHIA €975
ABU DHABI €960
BRUSSELS €953

brussels street

Brussels, Belgium – more expensive than 75% of the cities.

HAMBURG €953
MANCHESTER €953
OSAKA €953
RIO DE JANEIRO €945
SEOUL €945
ROME €938
MILAN €938
VIENNA €938
MIAMI €938
DOHA €938
MARSEILLE €930
DUBAI €923
GLASGOW €915
SAO PAULO €893
BEIRUT €893
MOSCOW €885
BERLIN €870
MONTREAL €863
SHANGHAI €863
MADRID €855
BARCELONA €840
LAGOS €840
NAPLES €833
HOUSTON €825
BAKU €773
ATHENS €773
BELO HORIZONTE €765
LISBON €750
SAINT PETERSBURG €735
PANAMA CITY €735
SAN JOSE (Costa Rica) €720
BEIJING €720

beijing street

Beijing, China – the median city but on the up.

BOGOTA €713
VALENCIA €713
MONTEVIDEO €713
ISTANBUL €713
SEVILLE €690
TAIPEI €675
KUALA LUMPUR €668
DAR ES SALAAM €660
SALVADOR (Brazil) €653
JOHANNESBURG €645
ACCRA €645
GUANGZHOU €645
TALLINN €638
WARSAW €638
SANTIAGO (Chile) €630
FORTALEZA €630
RIGA €623
ZAGREB €623
BRATISLAVA €608
MEXICO CITY €608
NAIROBI €608
MANILA €608
MEDELLIN €593
JAKARTA €593
BANGKOK €593
ANKARA €585
ALGIERS €578
GUATEMALA CITY €570
LIMA €570
KINGSTON €563
BUDAPEST €548

budapest street

Budapest, Hungary – cheaper than 75% of the cities.

CAPE TOWN €548
ADDIS ABABA €548
BELGRADE €540
CASABLANCA €540
DURBAN €540
BUENOS AIRES €533
PRAGUE €533
BUCHAREST €533
MARRAKECH €525
KRAKOW €525
GUADALAJARA (Mexico) €525
QUITO €510
TEHRAN €503
TBILISI €495
PHNOM PENH €488
SOFIA €480
HANOI €480
DHAKA €465
CAIRO €458
HO CHI MINH CITY €458
LA PAZ (Bolivia) €435
SAN PEDRO SULA €428
COLOMBO €420
CHIANG MAI €420
KATHMANDU €405
MUMBAI €390
DELHI €360
KIEV €345
CORDOBA (Argentina) €338
CHENNAI €323
KOLKATA €255

cheapest city in the world

Kolkata, India – the cheapest city to live.


How we calculated the estimated Cost of Living for each city

We started off with a strong idea of the cost of living in a couple of cities in which we have lived in the past couple of years. From there we used this excellent living costs comparison tool (based on the experiences of 1000’s of people around the world) to work out the percentage difference between those cities and others which we haven’t lived. From there we could calculate an estimate of the cost of living in each of these 125 world cities.

Obviously this isn’t an exact science but we hope you find the info useful.

You can convert Euros to your own currency here.

 


How to calculate YOUR likely monthly living costs in any city

Everyone has different spending habits so dig out your calculator and use this useful trick to calculate your probable expenditure across the world. First decide if you have lived in any of these cities long enough and recently enough to get an idea of how much you spent each month.

 

If you live or have lived in any of these cities fairly recently

1) Think about what your average monthly expenditure is or was.

2) Compare it to the figure we have quoted for that city.

3) Divide your actual monthly living costs by our estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

4) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

5) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.

Example

You lived in Hamburg and your average expenditure was only €800 and not the €953 we have.

800/953 = 0.84

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

0.84 x €593 = €498

Therefore you’re project monthly expenses in Bangkok would be €498.

 

If you haven’t lived in any of these cities recently

1) Use the comparison tool to compare the living costs in your current city (or one in which you have lived recently) to one on our list that you think might have similar living costs to yours (for the purpose of this tutorial we will choose Lisbon).

2) You will get a percentage difference between the costs in that city and Lisbon.

3) Convert that percentage into a decimal.

i.e. for positive differences +1% will be 1.01, +10% will be 1.1, +25% will be 1.25

for negative differences -1% will be 0.99, -10%will be 0.9, -25% will be 0.75.

4) Using your decimal see where your city would rank in our scale.

Estimated costs in Lisbon x Your decimal = Estimated cost of living in your city.

5) Now decide what your actual average monthly living expenses are/were in the city you chose.

6) Compare it to the figure you calculated in step 3.

7) Divide your actual monthly living costs by the estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

8) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

9) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.

Example

You are from Leeds but Leeds isn’t featured in our list however it is close to Manchester and probably has a similar cost of living.

The comparison tool says that Leeds is 1% more expensive than Manchester.

+1% gives us a decimal of 1.01 and our estimated costs in Manchester are 953 Euros.

953 x 1.01 = 963 so imagine Leeds is now in our table at 963 Euros per month.

However in your experience you actually spend 1100 Euros per month in Leeds.

actual living costs/estimated living costs is 1100/963 = 1.14.

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

1.14 x 593 = €676

So in Bangkok your estimated living costs would be €676.

 


 

If your brain has just exploded we apologise!

For an easier read, check out five cheap but cool countries to live in.


This article was published in August 2014.