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.
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
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)
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
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
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
This article was published in September 2017.