Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month

During a walk around Playa del Carmen yesterday, I happened to pass by a small, colorful building down a narrow side street, a street that I had never been down before. In the front window of this building, hanging from some sort of rotting suction cup hook, was a handwritten sign advertising “Estudios En Renta Por Mes” (Studios for Rent by the Month). And even though I already have a place to stay down here, my curious nature led me inside the doorway where I soon found myself asking the woman behind the desk if I could have a look at her studio apartments.

Olga, the woman behind the desk, happily led me up two flights of stairs before opening up one of the doors and inviting me in. I walked around the cozy studio, inspecting the king-size bed, the small sitting area, the recently renovated bathroom and the new air-conditioning unit, before being shown the common area on the first floor, which consisted of a large, well-maintained kitchen and a pleasantly laid out space with a half dozen tables and a few old sofas.

The price for one of these studios? $300 USD per month, with wi-fi and all utilities included.


In all honestly, this wasn’t exactly the most amazing apartment I’d ever seen and if I was in need of a place, I’d still have wanted to continue my search. However, after I thanked Olga for her time and walked back out to the street, I couldn’t help but think how cheap it really is for anyone to live in this tropical paradise known as the Riviera Maya.

With a $300/month studio apartment (that is four blocks from white sand beaches and two blocks from the center of town I might add), one would be hard-pressed to spend more than a $1000 per month in total to live here. In fact, one could very easily live a good life here for closer to $700 per month.

Naturally, such a realization leads me to wonder why more people don’t take advantage of such opportunities. After all, so many of us speak often about our desire to make a change in our lives by taking an extended break in some exciting and foreign land. But too often we conclude that “now is just not the right time” and so we put off our goals for yet another year, usually because of a simple mis-belief that to achieve such a goal would require an extraordinary amount of money.


How much do you spend per month on your current lifestyle, the one that you may be itching to break free from?

My immediate guess would be that most people are spending much more than $1000 per month once you take into account rent/mortgage, food, utilities, car payments and the rising cost of pet food.

Now consider this… I’ve almost never, during the past 11 years, spent more than $1000 USD in one single month of living overseas. And I’m not always a super-frugal nomad! If there’s something I want to do, I’ll pay for it without worrying too much about the cost and rarely have I had to skip out on something because it was too expensive.

Does this sound too good to be true? Well, for anyone worried that an extended overseas break will instantly drain your bank account, I now wish to share some of the places around the world where I’ve managed to live on less (and in most cases, much less) than $1000 per month.

*This is not a list of places I’ve traveled around for less than $1000 but places where I’ve rented a house or apartment, settled comfortably into the culture and unpacked my backpack for a while without moving around.


  • Mexico – I’ve now spent 11 of the past 13 months living in Mexico, the first half living in the beautiful Pacific coast village of Sayulita and the second half in Playa del Carmen along the Caribbean Sea. The two apartments I’ve rented have both been modern, more than comfortable and within five minutes walking distance to stunning beaches. And they each cost less than $500 per month in rent. Good, fresh food costs very little in Mexico, public transportation is dirt cheap and most activities that I enjoy (swimming in the ocean, attempting to surf, exploring local towns and villages and walking wherever my legs will take me) don’t cost much, if anything, at all. I’d say that on average, I spend approximately $800 per month to live well (according to my basic nomadic lifestyle) in wonderful Mexico.
  • India – On two occasions during my many visits to India over the years, I decided to stop traveling and actually stay put in one location for an extended period of time. First, it was the Tibetan village of McLeod Ganj, where I rented a wonderfully warm and cheerful rooftop room, with a view of the snow-capped Himalayas from my bed, for $120 USD per month. In all honestly, I could have eaten 10 meals per day, taken taxis everywhere I went (although I much preferred walking in the fresh mountain air) and signed up for as many yoga and meditation classes as I wished and I still would’ve had difficulty spending $500 per month. And last year, when I spent one month living in Calcutta, I found a decent budget hotel room for $5/night and spent a total of around $400 during my stay without once paying attention to what I spent. Of course, Calcutta is not on everyone’s list of places to live for a month, but it’s just an example!
  • Australia – Yes, Australia. At the end of 2008 I spent five months living in Melbourne and it was an absolute bargain. Using the excellent Gumtree.com I found a room in a shared house, located only a 15 minute walk from the center of the city, for a mere $400 USD per month. And even with frequent pub visits, live music shows, festivals, day trips and a shocking number of meals at my favorite Indian and Vietnamese restaurants, I managed to keep my expenses under $1000 every month quite easily.
  • Thailand – When I spent a stretch of time teaching English in the northern city of Chiang Mai, I shared an apartment with a friend of mine. I believe we paid about $200 USD each for our seventh floor pad that had a clear view to the beautiful Doi Suthep mountain behind the city. We ate all of our meals out (most of them at a random place called “Mr. Smiley’s” that was indeed owned by the happiest person on Earth), took frequent day and overnight trips all around northern Thailand, enjoyed daily foot massages and again, never paid much attention to how much we were spending. In the end, I had an incredibly rewarding, fun-filled experience for approximately $500 per month. And if you’re yet to be convinced that living in paradise doesn’t have to be expensive, just last year I spent a month on the absolutely perfect Thai island of Koh Mak, where a simple but super-comfortable beachfront bungalow set me back only $300 for four weeks!

Of course, the above isn’t even close to being an exhaustive list of countries where one could live for $1000 or less per month. These are just a selection of my personal experiences in order to help debunk the myth that living overseas, even in a first-world country such as Australia, requires some sort of winning lottery ticket. Had I wanted this post to be any longer than it already is, I could have added Argentina, Indonesia, Nepal and a few others to the list.

I also know that there are other expenses involved with such a trip as well, most notably the flight from your home country to wherever it is you want to go. But even with that cost, and assuming you don’t plan to hire movers to transport all of your possessions across the globe, chances are you’ll still end up spending less per month than you’re spending right now. And again, that fact alone should help eliminate ‘money’ from your list of excuses as to why you’re unable to do some traveling or live overseas for a while at this point in your life.

There certainly may be other obstacles standing in your way, but now that we’ve tackled one of the biggest ones, we’ll start to tackle the others in the near future as well!

Have you ever lived somewhere around the world on less than $1000 per month? Or perhaps you’ve always thought that such cheap international living was impossible?

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377 Responses to Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month

  1. Pingback: Living In Thailand On $1000 Per Month | living in thailand

  2. MK says:

    This is a great article!
    I ve been planning to do it for a while and finally ran out of reasons why I shouldn’t. I got a ticket already and I m heading to Playa del Carmen in end of December. I ve been there a couple of times and ready to make a move for some time. I m in school that is online and I can do it from anywhere in the world. The idea was born when I was in Thailand a couple of years ago and I still regret that I didnt do it back then. I live in New York and I totally agree with you. I dont know why people dont see it that you can live a dream life which is so possible, all you have to do is put some planning into it! I m not planning to stay close to 5th ave since I m planning to stay there for at least a year, so any safe but further from the Centro neighborhood would do for me. I really like Toscana and Colosio. I ve got a room through Airbnb for the first 5 days and I hope I ll find something once I m there by walking the streets or asking locals. I m picking up some Spanish too :) Any advice would be appreciated! And I love what you are doing!!! To do you need a different set of mind, which is the great one and apparently you have it :)) The best of luck to you!


  3. ronan says:

    Hi Earl,

    Fantastic article. I have always dreamed of living a life where I can travel whilst earning money. I’m 25 now and currently getting paid to write for a website called WritersDomain, but i’m worried about taking that big step and moving country. I could easily survive on $1000 and my dream home is Thailand (I’ve already been 8 times).

    My only concern is that at 25 I should probably be trying to save a bit and working a steady 9 to 5 job. If I take the plunge and move country, I’ll most likely only earn enough to live there. It’ such a hard choice between following my passion and thinking about the future me.

    • Robert M. Scott says:

      Nearly 4 years ago, I sold everything and bailed out. Thailand has been my host country ever since, and the experience has been rich and worth every moment. If you have nothing tying you to your home country, then there is no reason not to give it a go and with a $1000, you can live very well here (if you’re not an alcoholic or have a sweet tooth for the girls). Just remember if your desire is to spend a long duration here, your visas must somehow shore it up. As you may know, you can ride on tourist visas for a while, but you will eventually get denied re-entry if your ‘border runs’ and extension applications become chronic. Education visas (learning Thai language) now have a 6 month time limit, but you can renew (read: $$$) a couple of times. The only way to get a Non-Immigrant visa is to find gainful employment ($7-10/hour) as a teacher (4 year degree diploma; criminal background check, blood test, urine test…all your cost), or find some other work (rare). A Retirement visa takes bank and age (50+). None of this is meant to discourage, but it’s not a cake walk to live here for a long duration. Also, be aware that any sort of work, even if it is in the confines of your apartment, house or condo, it is still illegal and if caught (unlikely) can result in fines, detention and deportation through a one-way door. But, I say go for it! You’ll figure it out…

      • ronan says:

        Thanks for the reply and the informative post. I am aware that it might be difficult to stay there long term, but are there ways around this? I could possibly go and stay in Cambodia or Vietnam for a few months here and there, and thus be less likely to be flagged by immigration as a visa-runner?

        It is extremely tempting either way, I just always worry that I would be wasting some of my most important earning years just living to survive and not being able to save much. Suppose there’s always a trade-off with these kinds of things.

        • Bob says:

          Yeah, to avoid the visa hassles you can spend some time outside of Thailand, bouncing between the ASEAN countries or wherever, then those at immigration would likely not even blink an eye. But, then where is this ‘dream home’ you were talking about? And, this movement costs money and time. Uprooting from where you are now is a double edge sword. On one hand, you will likely not save any money, and there will be a lapse in the continuity within your resume as well as your potential for earning. Then on the other hand, if you don’t do this now, you likely never will because you feel you need to be responsible and save for that elusive future security. As you said, this is a trade-off. For me, my greatest learning experiences, personal growth, increase in quality of life, fun, adventure…has come from living abroad. -Good luck!

  4. K S says:

    I spent 2 years living in Australia, (2011 – 2013), and except for the backpacker hotels, you can’t stay in country, especially Melbourne (where I lived), you can’t get by on less than 1500 USD a month for rent.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey KS – I think I’d disagree with that. You can get a room in a shared house for around $400 per month or less and wouldn’t need to spend another $1100 to survive. Keeping it under $1000 is possible, especially with the exchange rate these days.

  5. Michael says:

    Reading your tips and life we can see that is possible to live without so much money. Thank for sharing your tip, Earl.

  6. Todd says:

    Hello Earl –

    My wife and I are strongly considering retiring to Playa Del Carmen. We have been there and are fairly familiar with that area. While money is not a big issue we would like to live on around $1000.00 a month. I read a previous post from 1-27-15 regarding the higher rents. I did however read in one of your older posts that you were trying to put together a group of locals to help negotiate pricing. Did ever come together and can you recommend someone there to help with that. Please advise.

    Best Regards
    Todd Benton

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Todd – I do have a contact down there who you can email. Her name is Liz and she can be reached at: elizabeth@rentingplayadelcarmen.com. She does help foreigners find apartments in Playa although she generally only works with those looking to spend at least $700 USD per month on rent. The reason is that there really isn’t too much these days, in the good locations, for less than that. Hope that helps though!

      • Suzanne Parrish says:

        Hi Earl,

        I’m just wondering how the government views my spending time in foreign countries if I’m living on disability? Are there certain restrictions or requirements? As I mentioned to Raechel, it’s only $865 per month. Oh, and I’m really allergic to fragrance, so any thoughts on best places to live to avoid that?

        Thank you,

        • Cat Grayson says:

          I’m interested in this issue as well. I’m not specifically interested in moving to Mexico, but it is on the list of possible places. I am disabled and collect social security disability. I understand from my research, that I can not use my Medicare insurance outside of the U.S., so I need to have access to quality, inexpensive medical care. (I say quality, rather than state-of-the-art, US standard medical care because while this kind of care does have a lot to offer, I don’t believe that it is the only viable care available). My husband and I would need to be able to live comfortably on my disability alone unless/until he can find local work. My other question is: Do you know of a resource online where I can enter a list of qualities I’m looking for in an expat location, and it will return a list of countries?

        • Wandering Earl says:

          Hey Suzanne – There aren’t any restrictions or requirements at all. You are free to spend as much time as you wish in foreign countries. As for avoiding fragrances, I’m really not too sure. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about or done research on. I don’t think there will be any place that would be any different from wherever you live now.

        • tj says:

          cheap or with Medicare?Hey suzanne I’m TJ I also am disabled n live on my disability is 900$ monthly n wanna move somewhere where i can live comfortably. I am single but i do need my meds every month which are not refillable so so you know if it’s possible to get a dr. Abroud and medsfor

  7. Pingback: 20 Things I Learned From Traveling Around the World | My Blog

  8. I live in Normandy, France, in a two bedroom cottage near the sea. I pay $800 a month including WiFi, English cable TV and electric. Fabulous shower, wo baths, big yard and fresh eggs from the chickens every morning. I buy my baguette ($1.20) every morning, a hunk of paté (another $1.50) and a round of Camembert ($3.00) Wine is about $2.50 a bottle. I keep it under a grand. The most expensive thing to do is laundry.

    • Suzanne Parrish says:

      Hi Raechel,

      Sounds fabulous, but what if I don’t know a word of French? Yes, I DO feel like an “ugly American”.
      I’m on disability, being allergic to fragrance (and having bowel issues from cancer treatment) and live on $865 per month plus about a hundred in food stamps (which I may not get in France?).

      Any thoughts? Thank you!

      • Noelle says:

        Easy, either get a book and a dictionary to learn the language you want…barter or exchange services to learn the language…and there is also translate from english to french on the computer,and know that people love if you know a few words or sentences in their language…the pleasant greetings, the thankyous the “what time is it” etc…make a list and do it phonetically..for pronounciations.

      • Michael Andrade says:

        Suzanne, you can avoid fragrances abroad the same way you do at home. You can’t get food stamps abroad, but your disability dollars will stretch farther in many countries where food prices are lower.

  9. Josh says:

    Hi Earl,

    I’ve been thinking of taking the dive to take a longer term visit to another country. Most of my money is made online so it makes things a little easier.

    My big question is how do I find the places to stay or rent BEFORE I get there?

    Any knowledge you have on Costa Rica?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Josh – That’s a bit hard and I personally wouldn’t rent anything without seeing it in person. It’s much better to just head where you want to go, stay in a hotel/hostel/guesthouse for a week and then do your apartment hunting in person.

  10. kelly says:

    Hi Earl, long time follower of your blog. Love itttt!
    I lived in Utila for a year, Panama 6 months. Im back in America and DYING to move again. Im torn between Mexico, specifically the caribbean side, and Caye Caulker, Belize. My budget is $1000.00 monthly. My question is 2fold;
    Which do you prefer ( Im 40yr old single, fun loving female) and do you think I can survive on this amount. I NEED TV and wifi …Im one hell of a bartender, think I could land a gig in either place ( thats 3 questions, I guess) thank you for your response Earl, thanks for your time.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kelly – Thanks for following the site! And that’s a tough call…it’s quite expensive these days on the Caribbean side of Mexico. In Playa, it’s very difficult to find an apartment anywhere near the center of town for less than $700 per month, plus utilities. There are cheaper places to live over there but there won’t be any work opportunities in those communities. As for Caye Caulker, to be honest, I don’t know enough about that destination. I’ve been but it was a long while ago. You might want to check out:


      It’s written by Norbert who has spent a lot of time in Belize!

    • Tony Cerrito says:

      Kelly ,

      I too am on a budget of a little over a 1000 a month ,I was wondering if youd like to talk with me about your experiences in such a low figure ,Im sure it could be done if shared .Whats your thoughts on this .



  11. Anish says:

    Hi there,
    Great post, by the way I am eagerly waiting for my vacation and planning to visit India in budget. I think the place McLeod Ganj is good place enough for me and my friend. Is it possible to get the hotel name and the location?? I wanna spend a month there.
    Thanks for the help.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Anish – The place in McLeod is Drepung Loseling Guesthouse, right off the main road in the center of town.

  12. Prarthana says:

    Hello Earl! I’ve been reading about Australia for months in a lot of blogs. The one common thing they all agreed upon is the high expenditure. I’m extremely surprised to read the opposite in your blog. I’ve been planning and planning to kick start my solo adventure with Australia as the first destination. I created an itinerary for 3 weeks wherein I first land in the gold coast. Then go to Cairns. Take an U-turn and head back to Sydney. Then back to home. Is it a feasible plan? Would i be able to limit my expenses? Will 1000AUD be enough?
    BTW, I’m happy with shared dorm rooms; I can cook for myself; I don’t waste money by drinking.
    Hoping to hear back soon :)


    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Prarthana – Well, when I wrote the post, Australia was definitely much cheaper but at the same time, if you watch your spending and plan wisely, you can still experience that country for less than what most people think you would need. As for 1000 AUD for your itinerary…that’s going to be a bit tough because all of the moving around increases your expenses. Transportation is expensive over there so that will eat away at much of your budget. You can still make it happen but if you also want to participate in activities and actually visit locations that have entrance fees, it will be a bit challenging.

      • I have spent a fair amount of time in Melbourne in the last couple of years, and it is expensive. I spend time there at a friend’s house, don’t eat out much at all, swim at a local pool and take public transportation. I am sure that, with incidentals such as some wine and beer, adds up to $1000. On the plus side for Americans, the Australian dollar is at about $.70 US right now.
        Besides, it is very hard to get legal status there. I would never consider trying to live there on my social security.

  13. Rachel says:

    Hi Earl,

    I was shocked when I read that you were able to live on less than $1000 a month in Australia. I find that really hard to believe because I struggle to even live on AUD1600 (rent, groceries, transport and social activities included)… I live in Sydney so maybe things are way more pricey here compared to Melbourne. Any advice for cutting costs?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Rachel – I basically lived in a shared house with 4 other people, had my own room but the rent was quite low. And I generally walked everywhere, shopped at the fruit/veg markets and found out where the cheapest (and best) eateries were. Things might have become more expensive now but it was definitely possible when I was there!

  14. sasha says:

    Hi Earl,

    I am extremely interested in taking that trip to India! I have 2weeks left at my current job and i am ready for what the future holds. In that future I see India for a month! My family is from India and I want to explore the culture. If you have time or another post you can refer me too for more information on this please let me know how you made this happen!

    Thank you,


    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Sasha – Great to hear from you and to see that you’re interested in the tour! Unfortunately, though, I’ve had to cancel the India tour due to my recent bout with dengue fever. I just don’t want to risk it at this point and want to concentrate on getting my strength back before I commit to leading another tour. But stay tuned as I’m sure I’ll be offering another one at some point!

      • Suzanne Parrish says:

        Hey Earl,

        I’m sorry I’m almost a year late (Luddite that I am), but wanted to wish you a speedy recovery! Please tell me that you have, by now anyway!


  15. Reza Lotfi says:

    My name is Reza.
    I am from Iran.
    I am 53 years.
    I am IT manager.
    I am retried now.
    I want live in Thailand.
    I want know how much my exepens per mount have avarage life there?
    Thank a lot

  16. karin says:

    Great blog and thanks for encouraging Americans to get a passport and explore the world. I grew up living around the world thanks to my father’s job and I still have the wandering bug. I am 55 now and still travel for my job but staying closer to the USA since my mom is not in the best of health. I want to encourage all the young to travel while you are young before you have too many responsibilities. Take a gap year before college and explore. I took 3 months off before starting college and backpacked around Europe. I should have taken a few years off! My son is 32 and is a computer geek for the Air Force. He works long hours but gets 7 days off every month. Every month he has been going to South/Central America. He will be transferred to Japan soon and will explore Asia one of my fav spots. I stayed in Mae Sot, Thailand for $2/day and spent another $2 on food. That was in 2000 but amazing to live on $5/day and see so much. I could walk over to Burma and floated the river.

    • Suzanne Parrish says:

      Hi Karin,

      Sorry to be almost a year late, as I mentioned to Earl, but wanted to say Hey! I’ve only been to Bangkok for two days, but had one of the best meals ever on the street, in a banana leaf. I’m 55, now and still wonder about living somewhere on my $865 from SS disability.


      • Julia says:

        Hi Suzanne,
        I live on a disability as well and I need to break free from Canada and live somewhere on $1000/mo I prefer Mexico ( I think). My main concern is being able to get a doctor to prescribe my medications. My girlfriend is not on a disability but we are planning this new way of life together. She will need work ( no meds). Am I legally allowed to collect my disability if I am out of my country? I think I’m allowed to leave for 3 months at a time. We have a lot of homework to do on this. Let us know how you are doing! Julia and Robyn

  17. Andrew says:

    Hi Earl,

    Im a newcomer to your site and have read through about half of your posts so far, really fantastic what you are doing with your life!

    I especially enjoy your posts about living/travelling abroad on a small budget, as I cannot wait to get back to Asia, I am thinking about selling up everything and heading off again every day!

    Have you been to Nepal and Tibet before? I think that is where I would like to experience next, hopefully early next year :)

    Question, when you set out to see the world, did you have much resistance from family or close friends? If so how did you handle that? I know when the day comes that I tell my parents I am heading off indefinitely, my old man will definitely give me the whole ‘responsibility, savings and what about retirement?’ talk… I don’t have a degree or a really sure way of generating income while O/S, but feel that I can be happy living cheaply and leaving the material things of day to day life here behind…

    I get where they are coming from, however living in what is starting to just feel like an ‘existence’ as part of the 9-5 machine, the urge to see the world gets stronger very day I wake up…

    Keep up the great site, look forward to reading your posts in the future!

    Andrew :)

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  19. Emily says:

    Hi James,

    As someone that has never travelled outside of Australia I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post. Not only was it enjoyable, it was also extremely informative!

    I plan on moving to Melbourne in the next few years and I had absolutely no idea that accommodation in Melbourne could be so cheap (15 minutes from the CBD!!!!)


  20. Pingback: Are you a Budgeting Nazi? | Snik's Travels

  21. Doug says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what Suchi said: Explore your options and find a more “local” (cheaper) way to live…

    In Central and South America, I’ve found that you will easily pay double what you otherwise would for rent, hotels, restaurants, etc, if you patronize businesses that cater to foreigners, rather than locals.

  22. Suchi says:

    As an experienced nomad myself, I can confirm that even today, in 2014, you can live quite well in Argentina (Buenos Aires) for about $1000 a month. A 2-bedroom apartment with a balcony and all expenses can be had for under $500. I’d also add to your list a few places in Europe where I’ve traveled and lived, like Bulgaria (Sofia or elsewhere) and Portugal. Lisbon is a gorgeous, delicious, sunny place to be, but sticking to the $1,000 mark can be done if you are smart about it. Maybe $1,500 would be better, but still, what a great life you can live there… But my biggest advice would be: don’t just live, eat and drink where all the expats go! Explore your options and find a more “local” (cheaper) way to live…..

    • Svetla says:

      Hi! I am pleased that you mentioned Bulgaria! Bulgaria is beautiful and filled with places to go and see. I personally bought a house in Mountain for 10,000 leva= about 8,000 dollars.
      Txes for the year about 25 leva.
      food for 2 people+dog+ cat =300 leva/month
      electric 100 leva depends on how much you cook and heat with electricity.
      I prefer wood burning stove which eats about 700 leva per year for constant 12 hour per day use in the winter months
      travel in Sofia=1 lev one way on bus , subway or troley
      phone 30 to 50 leva/month
      internet 25 leva /monthly
      That is only if you live like me in the mountains.
      Clean air, easy going, not a lot of neighbors, villa zone, wide open spaces , and no mortgage
      oh ya, no car!
      The train costs about 3 leva depends on your destination one way!
      I am a walker so i walk up and down the mountains easy due to my security officer job.
      People in their 70’s can and do live high up the mountains and they are a lot healthier then others!
      I make my own bread at home and do not go to bars, and do not spend my money out most of the time!
      My standard of living for two people in the Mountains in Bulgaria= 700 dollars or less! Dont forget dog and cat!
      All the best From Bulgaria Mountains

  23. Rachel says:

    I’ve lived in Bangkok for 12 years and rarely spend more than $750 a month, and that includes my one-bedroom apartment close to the sky train and only $350 a month – a rent, I might add, that hasn’t increased in the 12 years I’ve lived in it :)

    Bangkok is affordable, particularly if you eat Thai food and don’t go out drinking every night.

    Most months, I can cover all my basic expenses for around $600 and that includes taking care of and feeding two extremely hungry rabbits and eating out several times a week with friends. The other $150 I spend on things like DVD, computer games, shopping etc.

    I compare that with my $3,000 a month in Los Angeles, a lifestyle I might add that was far worse than what I have in Thailand, and you couldn’t pay me to leave :)

    • Nya says:

      I am in the planning stages of make a short term stay to Thailand and wish to spend time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. How did you go about securing your apartment? Is there a listing of websites for rentals? I have ran into many websites but rarely see the deals/prices you all have stated.

    • Rachel says:

      Hey Rachel,

      Do you still live there? Is it safe for two women to live for a couple months?

  24. Pingback: 10 Travel Websites That Will Help You Travel Long Term And Live Adventurously | Hedonist Adventure

  25. Chris says:

    Well i have just returned from living in Thailand for the past 4 months. I also went to Laos and Cambodia during my stay and I wanted to share what I spent to aid others in getting decent uptodate advice.

    Room for rent with AC/Balcony/Fridge/Bed/Cupboard/Seats/Shower wc 3800bht month
    Elec – Air on for a few hours a day + usual elec bits = 950bht a month
    Water approx 283bht a month
    Food a day (3 meals out, 1 cafe 2 street) 400bht day = 12000bht
    Motorbike hire and fule / run = 100bht a day = 3000 bht a month or less
    7 eleven / water / cakes / phone credit / tooth paste / washing powder 100bht a day or 3000 per month
    Visa runs 2500 per month
    Nights out 2 a week light drinking (3 beers and a couple of ld’s) 3000 per month

    Total to live in Thailand = 28533bht a month = £548.00 at 52bht to the £1

    To give you more of a flavour of our life out there (the above based on 2) our days went something like this.

    Get up about 9ish, go for a swim, eat at the market for breakfast, then out into the country for a ride on my bike, stop for a drink, back to room, washing, walk along the beach, dinner at a street stall, drinks in a bar, snacks from 7eleven, home bed.

    This is an honest day of me being a Falang. The above figures also include visa runs and trips to Laos / Cambodia. I hope that this has been helpful.

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  29. Ryan says:

    I smiled when I read the part about Thailand, I was there with my partner last year and we ended up leaving after our three week trip under budget, and that’s after we splurged on the last week and got a super nice penthouse in downtown Bangkok for 4 nights! Depending on whether you rent a place for a month or use a guesthouse, living in Thailand is very affordable. We used public transportation all the time, for example the BTS in Bangkok to get us all across the city for less than a dollar. Food stands are delicious and super affordable (a must in Asia), our first night in Bangkok we both ate for a combined total of $3 and easily had the best fried spring rolls of our life (we could never find the guy after that though, god damn those were good!). So glad I came across this blog, I am now totally looking forward to my next trip!

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  31. Randy says:

    Hello my friend!

    I wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading your blog since I was 17 and am now 23. I was so inspired by you that I even joined the US Army so that I could travel. While it was a great expire I didn’t meet very many of my travel goals… but the good news is I just moved to Playa Del Carmen Mexico and am on day 5 of 365ish. This is what I’ve experienced so far…

    -swam in the ocean
    -Had my first vegetarian meal
    – had a “house warming” party
    -Ate like a King for 2.70
    -had several successful conversations in Spanish
    -met people who invited me to stay with them when I travel through Colombia, Germany, Costa Rica,
    – made friends with Canadians (who came over and cooked us a meal)
    – danced in the rain (badly)
    – witnessed a man cry when talking about dolphin killings.
    – drank tequila in front of the mall with a German guy.
    – Drank Colombian tequila on the beach with Colombian newlyweds
    – smoked Mota on my roof under the stars.
    – rode a bus for 5 pesos.
    – met Penelope Cruz
    – Raged in a club.
    – made friends with a beautiful French girl.
    – Let go of the past
    – Shopped in a Mexican Walmart
    – ate delicious ft long quesadillas for less than $1
    – Felt like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be for the second time in my life.
    – haven’t been drunk since I got here and still had tons of fun!

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU I could not have done it without you!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Randy – There’s not much to say apart from keep on enjoying your experiences and making the most out of every day! I’m honestly very happy to see the excitement and I have no doubt that this is only the beginning for you. And the next time I’m in Playa you’ll have to introduce me to Penelope Cruz!

  32. I envy you says:

    Once you spent all your savings, and not including what you put on credit cards, how do you earn your income while youre abroad to pay for your travelling? Ive heard teaching English in SE Asia only pays a few dollars per hour. Do you come back to America once a year to work for three months and save it all? And how much do you use couchsurfing.com , hospitalityclub and similar sites to stay for free?

  33. Kashan says:

    As a tourist $1000 is I thought was almost impossible, but as a regular local it might be. However, with these tips, I’d probably try and return to some of these countries on an even longer backpacking trip!

  34. Gearheart says:

    Since this article was first published in 2010, would you say that this is your most successful post re: longevity?

  35. Christy says:

    Would you say that your method works for traveling inside the United States? Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Christy – Absolutely! You can definitely apply the same principles when in the US to keep things as inexpensive as possible.

  36. Christy says:

    I’m considering travel writing exclusively in the fifty states and territories. Would you say your method would work for me? Thanks!

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  42. Megan Gleeson says:

    Hi James,

    I was intrigued to read your post about Chiapas. I was wondering, in general do costs increase the higher up the mountain you go? My ideal climate is mild to cold. I hate the heat, so when you mentioned the cool winters in San Cristobal you caught my attention. I would like to live somewhere that is inexpensive and food can be grown though. What are your thoughts on this? Also, do you feel that Chiapas is a safe area for single women?

    Thanks so much,
    Megan :)

  43. Alex Cardo says:

    Thanks for this really informative post. I’ am also sure that life in paradise shouldn’t cost too much! I’ve never known about Koh Mak. Can you post a report about this “cool” apartment for only $300/month??? I’ve been really impressed by this price! I found for myself one luxury apartment complex in Pattay, but it cost about $100/day, but for $300 a month…Please share your “SECRET” “super-comfortable beachfront bungalow”‘s name!

    • Bruce X says:

      Generally, you show up in the city and ask locals where you can find a cheap apartment. I live in a beach resort in Mexico for 3 years, and paid $230 US per month for a minimally furnished 2-bedroom a 20 minute walk from the beach.

      The catch is that you won’t find these places on the internet – you have to show up and start hunting in person.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Alex – On Koh Mak, the bungalow is called “Sucharnawee” and it’s right off one of the piers that the ferries arrive at. Great stretch of beach, friendly people, inexpensive and while it is about a 30 minute walk to the main beach on the other side of the island, I still found it more than ideal.

  44. Debi says:

    Your life sounds exciting & inexpensive. May I ask how you make money? I would think that if you get a job in one of these countries, the pay somewhat matches the cost of living. I suppose unless you work on computers are something along those lines. I mean if you work for someone in the USA online in some way, then I would think that the pay would out match the cost of living in one of these amazing countries. I was just wondering…thanks.

  45. Bruce says:

    I visited San Cristobal back in 2005 for a week and thought it was terrific. I remember thinking at the time that it might be an ideal place to retire some day: much cheaper than Canada or the USA, mild year-round climate, and a good mix of both the old traditions and modern conveniences.

    I haven’t been back since, and I’m almost afraid to return – I’m worried that by the time I could actually retire there it will become a completely different place!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Bruce – Well, I visited SCC this year, just a few months ago and I’m confident that the town is still as you picture it. I instantly loved the place myself.

  46. James says:

    I have lived in Chiapas for over 3 years now and found it the most beautiful place I have ever lived. The weather is perfect and I mean PERFECT all year. I say perfect because it is mountainous and you can slide up and down the mountains to find your ideal climate.

    Comitan de Dominguez is a pretty large town with a moderate to warm climate. There are modern stores like Sam’s Club and Walmart but the city still has the atmosphere of the small villages.

    Down the mountain and a little warmer is the town of Tzimol. It doesn’t even have a Pemex, but one is being built. There are no ATMs and no chain stores, unless the pharmacy and Telcel stores count. High rent here is about $100.00 a month US$. I have looked at nice little houses renting for $35.00 a month. Electricity and propane are under $100.00 a month. That could go up if you are an excessive user of either. Eating locally grown can cost about $100.00 a month per person or less. If you want to drive up to Walmart,15 minutes to Comitan, then your food costs can go way up.

    Up the mountain you will find lots of little towns on the way to San Cristobal. There the rent is high because it is a popular tourist town. They have Sam’s Club, movie theaters etc.. It is very cool in the winter in San Cristobal and many Canadians love it there because it is like summer in Canada all year! You can pay as much as $1500. a month for rent but finding something under a $1000 is pretty easy. Local grown brings more of a premium because of the tourists but you can still live for a lot less than most places similar outside of Chiapas.

    Chiapas also has a coast line and it is hot and humid. There are no famous tourist destinations there so the cost are lower. I have not priced anything there for a long time so I have no examples. There are plenty of low elevation places inland also that are hot and humid.

    Chiapas is a low cost place to live and most of the state is safe from violence, only the southern coast may have some cartel related problems…

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  48. I really like the possibilities you are painting. I am a serious swimmer an need to continue training w/o the 8 hr tour of duty between. I would love to tap your brain to blueprint these next chapters. I just might be ready to take the chance in January 2014.
    Do you think I will encounter resistance in doing a daily ocean swim?
    Are there some places better than others to train daily?
    Any info is appreciated…

  49. Sandra Beernaert says:

    Hi! How did you find a place, what sites, to house sit? How long are the durations, usually?
    I want to do “something”, sell my house in Canada and leave. Prefer to find something that I don’t need a car, modern, small, clean, by water, anywhere(!)
    Might need to work p/t to cover expenses……idea’s??

    • gearheart says:

      Do a browser search for phrases like house sitter, house sit, etc. There are several websites out there where people list their homes or services. You join, post your profile, what you’re looking for etc and then you search the places that suit where you want to go. Sits can last anywhere from days to months. We sat a B&B in Cabo Mexico for a month (the owner closes in summer). I’ve met people who sit for months, but going from one sit to another, but all in one area or country. Try it… but read about it first, since there are some drawbacks (as in anything). Good luck.

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