Ever consider a permanent vacation? Taking up residence in some beautiful and exotic locale is a common dream. But when it comes to relocating your life to some new geographic, cultural, or historic haven, a lot of folks think it’s cost prohibitive. Think again.
It turns out quitting your job and moving to a place where you don’t need a 9 to 5 to support yourself isn’t that far-fetched. In fact, it’s quite doable; you just have to pick the right place. In some cases, whether you work at all becomes a matter of choice, not necessity.
Take a look at the list below of the top eight places to relocate and live cheaply. All are beautiful. All are affordable. So, if you’ve considered changing your moniker to “global nomad,” look no further for your quick start guide to turning this dream into a reality.
Costs of living provided for each destination are for a single person renting a comfortable two-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood an American would find satisfying. (Of course, you could shave some dollars off this estimate by downsizing to smaller living quarters.) Other costs, like groceries, transportation and entertainment are included as a per person estimate. Utilities like internet, cable, a telephone plan, and electricity or heat are also factored into the monthly budget estimate. Note that the budgets don’t include things like travel, clothes, or health insurance.
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1. Granada, Nicaragua – When we think about Nicaragua, the country’s troubled past may come to mind. But what we should focus on is all that it has to offer today. Much like Costa Rica (but without the rampant development and high costs of living), Nicaragua is home to two long coastlines, large lakes, volcanoes, and rain forest. Living in this country comes at a steal of a price. Couple that with the allure of colonial architecture, world-class surfing, and the bustling city life of one of the oldest cities in Latin America, and Granada tallies as one of the best places for expats to relocate. Coming in at only $1,225 for monthly living expenses, this city that has drawn poets and artists for centuries is an affordable place to live an inspired life.
2. Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal – Some tout Portugal as the best-kept secret of old-world Europe. With much of the nation’s architecture dating from the 1500s – 1800s, it’s not difficult to imagine why. Carvoeiro, a town on the Algarve coast, is a place rich in history that offers high-end living at a bargain price. From breathtaking views at the rocky coast, to the temperate climate found year-round, to the rich gastronomic culture, there’s something for everyone in Carvoeiro. The current distressed value of the euro makes this destination especially affordable – a month’s worth of expenses come in at only $1,150 per person.
3. El Poblado, Medellín, Colombia – Anyone else obsessed with the Netflix show Narcos? Not to fear – the days of Pablo Escobar and his thugs are long gone in Medellín. Today, Medellín is an idyllic locale, set in the mountains of Columbia. Here you will find the neighborhood of El Poblado, located in the heart of a bustling city center. Sporting both a Euro-chic vibe and a tranquil way of life, the city offers comfortable living at a very affordable price. Indeed, it seems that the scare factor once associated with Medellín has helped keep costs down. The current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso allows expats to live in luxury at a bargain price. The monthly budget for El Poblado is about $1,650 for a single person.
4. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo – Looking for a laid-back way of life? Look no further than this quiet city in the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state in the northern part of the island of Borneo. Long attracting adventure travelers looking to snorkel, dive, boat and ferry hop to neighboring islands, Kota Kinabalu offers a life that revolves around water and the outdoors. The city itself is small, quaint, and walkable, while also offering modern day services, like high-quality, low-cost health care. With its serene and exotic landscape, Kota Kinabalu is home to a growing number of expats. And why not? For a mere $850 a month in living expenses, you can soak up the lush surroundings and live a close-to-nature lifestyle.
5. Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic – A small coastal town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Las Terrenas is classic Caribbean, with pristine white sand beaches, scenic landscapes, and clear waters. Establishing residency here is a breeze, and there’s a strong French feel because of the large expat community. Think delicious baguettes and restaurants touting haute-cuisine at affordable prices. When most people consider the Caribbean, they typically think of the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. But these days the Dominican Republic is the place to be. Today it boasts a thriving economy, growing infrastructure, and falling crime rates. And unlike its other Caribbean cousins, the DR remains affordable. Total costs for a month of living expenses comes in at about $1,250 for an individual.
6. Chiang Mai, Thailand – Located within the old city walls, the heart of Chiang Mai is rich with ancient and modern Buddhist temples. But modern Chiang Mai has grown beyond the walls and offers first-world comforts like mega-malls, multi-national grocery stores, and fashionable department stores. The city is scattered with public and international schools, making it a go-to for families looking to live abroad. While you may need to learn a little Thai to get by, there is a thriving community of English-speaking expats. Total costs for a single person per month in Chiang Mai come in at only $1,000. An added perk – a visit to an English proficient doctor will only set you back $20.
7. Barcelona, Spain – Located in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a vibrant and colorful city with a strong energy. Despite Spain’s ongoing economic woes, Barcelona is an incredibly affordable place to live. A cultural mecca, this second-largest city in Spain is home to a thriving arts scene. History abounds in art and architecture from pre-Roman times to the modern era. The city is home to a host of galleries, museums, theaters, and restaurants, with the beach right around the corner. The total monthly budget – about $1,600 per month for a single person.
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8. Santa Familia, Cayo, Belize – About 25 years ago, Morley Safer from 60 Minutes did a story on Belize. The take away: the news from Belize is that there’s no news. Today, things haven’t changed much. If you’re looking for simple living – like knowing your neighbors, unplugging from the internet, and limited government presence in day-to-day life – Belize is the place to go. The region of Cayo is one of wide-open spaces, fresh air, warm sun and fertile land. It’s like a small town in the Midwest abroad. Prices for living well here come in at a mere $1,200 per month.