Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month

Derek Popular, Travel Costs, Travel Tips & Advice 393 Comments

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 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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Comments 393

  1. charlene charles

    Hi Jeremy, what part of the South of Spain or you looking to live in and if so for how long. I also have a income of $725.00 and would really appreciate any insight your travels on this amount can provide. I don’t like or do BUGS (lizards, cock roaches)… which is why I’m having a hard time with Panama even in the City I hear there can be a problem.


  2. Tom

    Oh to be a young attractive female 🙂 Sadly these opportunities for bar work in Greece and other holiday destinations are rarely offered to the middle aged, pretty faces sell beer! My advice would be to make the most of these opportunities whilst you are young, when you are 55 years old with a few wrinkles and grey hairs you won’t find the bar owners rushing to offer you jobs.

  3. Kelly

    My friend and I lived for a month on the Greek Island of Symi for a month. Arrived on the ferry and had jobs and a 1 bedroom apartment before night fall. Our rent was 250 euro for the month including bills. We worked in a cafe/bar for 30 euro a day (which we really did not consider work as it involved alot of drinking and was great way to meet people and learn the language). Free meals and drink at our workplaces, made friends with the locals so they took us exploring, best time of my life and I left with way more money than I arrived with.

    While there we were offered work in other cities without any effort on our part (Rome, Istanbul).

  4. Teresa Roberts

    I live abroad for the price of a an airplane ticket. I’m an international house sitter. I get to live in some amazing locations while enjoying the amenities of spectacular houses. I have lived for up to 90 days in countries all over the world. My message includes living a debt-free life as that is the only way to rid ourselves of indentured servitude. Even back in the United States, my living expenses do not exceed $1200 a month. Less is more my friend, less is more.

  5. Gina

    Great article. It is important to be reminded from time to time that if you are willing to travel slow, how much you can save. And it’s nice not to be moving cities every week or so!

  6. Doug


    I can only speak from my own experience… A lot of countries allow you to either renew/extend the tourist visa in-country, or you can simply make a “visa run” to a neighboring country for a couple hours (or longer) and re-enter the country where you’re living for a “new” 3 month tourist visa.

  7. Sandra Siegel

    I am curious about how you went about staying longer than the 3 month limit of time permitted for Americans and others in the EU. Do you apply for extentions or get a work permit or what?

  8. Lo Lisa Molder

    I am a single, medically retired female receiving Soc Sec & disability direct deposits monthly. I’m willing to relocate to Europe in the Italy area (the warmest part:), for @ least 6 mos. Safety is definitely an issue for me & available medical access if needed. I’m looking for something close to the beach…

  9. Lo Lisa Molder

    I am a single, medically retired female receiving Soc Sec & disability direct deposits monthly. I’m willing to relocate to Europe in the Italy area (the warmest part:), for @ least 6 mos. Safety is definitely an issue for me & available medical access if needed. I’m looking for something close to the beach, and centrally located…The location of the apt to the main market place is outstanding!

  10. Amber

    This is my goal! Although we have been traveling extensively and quickly for the last 9 months to satiate some wanderlust, we are coming up on the time when we need to slow down and “settle” for awhile (undefined length of time). And the $1000 a month budget is what we are looking at. Even for 2 people I think it is doable in much of SE Asia. Although, I am willing to splurge and head up to $1500 a month. I was spending $4000 a month on a mortgage, condo fees, and property taxes in Chicago! How crazy was I???

    Thanks for this post. I think if more people read it they might realize that I am not entirely crazy for Escaping the Predictable Life!

  11. Alicia

    Ecuador!!! I wish more people had replied that have wandered with kids. I know in many places schools that will educate at levels sufficient for a world class university acceptance will increase costs. My widow’s pension is not enough to live in the states, however; I can live well abroad. Good thing I love to cook! Additional bonus, no hormone injected chickens!

  12. Jaryd Krause

    On there last afternoon they worked out how much there holiday cost them, FAR OUT MAN! This week just gone I had my parents visit me on my travels, not having seen them for 10 months it was great to catch up. As they crunched numbers I opened my travel expenses excel sheet and noticed what I had spent in my last 10 months. So over this period I have visited 19 countries (through Europe and a little of Africa/middle east), been to many festivals, brought a surfboard, scuba dive gear and quarters in a car whilst including flights and everything I have spent roughly $17000. This is a small price to pay to “live the dream”, well see and do so much! On that note Earl I have also lived in Mexico, costing less than US$7 per day and just now I am about to leave Egypt where I lived for less then $500 per month in comfort and paradise, whilst diving and seeing the sights.

    Everybody get out there listen to Earl, it is very possible and cheap to see the world and live anywhere, yet another great post thanks to Earl, Cheers

  13. pete

    Just found you. I like your philosophy of travel on less, so I would like to know more about
    a few subjects. I have had some international travel and living experience, but most settled into
    one place for a lengthy period of time – /china for 10 years. My questions are: what do you do about
    medical insurance and medical care and secondly how do you set up your banking so you have
    ready access to, I presume, American dollors for everyday use?

  14. Kerry

    Thanks for your website. I now understand my friend from NZ- she is in her late 50’s. She planned for a couple of years to escape the normal 9 -5 life. She took courses on Teaching English, and took early retirement and has been travelling the world working/travelling. She has been to some amazing places. She has even worked in the very strict Burqah cultures of the middle east. She has no children/partner. Not everybody could escape like this. My 16yo dreams of travelling one day. I’m not so scared of her going now.

  15. Tammy Winand

    I lived in McleodGanj India as the op mentioned on less than $300 USD a month. Rent was $80 per month for a basic room with shared bath facilities, meals total abt $6 USD a day of you eat at touristy restaurants.
    I lived in Boudha KTM Nepal for slightly more per month and had very nice facilities as opposed to my basic India ones.

    I am now debating whether I want to do this again, as there are a lot of adjustments in lifestyle.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tammy – The good news is that when I was back in McLeod this past November, you could still rent a place for around the same amount. I even found one guesthouse that had rooms with private bathrooms and a nice view over the valley for just $100 USD per month. It doesn’t get cheaper than that.

  16. Matthew Maggy

    I haven’t read through all of the comment, but if nobody’s mentioned it, you can live in Western Europe for way less than $1,000/month if your willing to work in a hostel in exchange for accommodation (helpx). All you have left is food, sight seeing, boozing, and phone calls (if you can’t Skype them).

  17. 24/7 in France

    I am an expat writing about & living on the French Riviera – definitely not the cheapest place to be, but then again there is about 300 days of Mediterranean sunshine. It’s definitely about making a life choice and following a dream – where there’s a will, there’s a way! You’re travels and life experiences are priceless!

  18. Jaton West

    One area you might address is health care – cost and quality – and international health insurance (both cost and whether or not it’s readily available. You are apparently young and healthy, unlike some of us 😉 — but you could always get sick or hurt — and this expense would certainly be a factor to consider in living abroad.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jaton – Absolutely…and I do mention it from time to time on the site. I talk about how I have a health insurance plan back in the US for around $100 per month and then buy supplemental travel insurance for around $40 per month for some of my travels. It’s definitely a factor to consider but the cost will be so different for everyone that it’s hard to give a general idea of what to expect.

  19. Darrell

    I am so GLAD to have found your blog. I used to fly in the USAF and am now retired. THIS blog has done it for me. I am in Afghanistan at the moment and will back these bags soon! My retirement along with my benefit of getting to fly FREE around the world makes me wonder why I am still here. (The Money) Thank you for a WONDERFUL blog and look forward to reading more of your stories.


  20. Nicole P.

    Thank you all for the great recommendations!!! I LOVE the Globetrottergirls’ website! And I also really love the website, and all the wonderful, wonderful positives and negatives to house/pet sitting around the world! Thank you so much!!!


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nicole – The Globetrotter Girls are one of my favorites as well…and they are such wonderful people in person too!

  21. Vee

    Living in countries like Viet Nam is extremely cheap. One can teach at an international school there and earn American salary while living way way way below the means… house sitting seems like a good idea to try in more expensive countries.

  22. Nicole P.

    Wow! I am SO glad I stumbled upon this article, and all of your responses! I want to live overseas for a few months (it’s always been my dream), but I’m not sure how to make it happen, to be honest! I am 33 and currently not employed… It feels like the perfect time to do it, but how would I make money? And do they just let people from America just live in another country for awhile? Also, where would I find a house-sitting job??

    Thank you SO, so much in advance!!!!!

    Nicole <3

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nicole – Thanks for the comment and there are many answers to your questions as it really all depends on the country(ies) you want to visit. And of course, travel does cost money so you would need to figure out some way to earn a living/have your expenses covered, whether it be online, through teaching English overseas, volunteering, taking advantage of websites such as, working on cruise ships, etc.

      And for house-sitting jobs, you might want to check out this blog:

      They do house-sitting all over the world and have a great resource that helps others do the same!

      1. charlene charles

        Hi Earl, great blog. Do you get paid as a blogger? Because I’m an excellent writer and have thought of doing for the African American/Black Traveler! Also do you need a degree in Teaching to teach English?

        Thanks a bunch.


    2. gearheart

      I can speak to the house sitting issue. We belong to, but there are several others as well. Last year we house sat in Cabo Mexico for a month. It was a good experience, but you should know that there are positives and negatives to house sitting. Our Cabo experience was unusual because it was actually a B&B that was closed for the “low” season (summer). It was a lovely place and we had a pool outside our door. But it was summer and HOT.
      Most people need a house sitter (80%) because they need someone to take care of a pet while they’re away. Even if they don’t have a pet, they want someone to watch and take care of their house. So you’ll need to be at the house at the very least every night and, if they have a pet, often enough during the day to do your pet duties. You may have additional duties – in Cabo, ours was to take care of the pool and some minor housekeeping. So you probably can’t count on just using the house as a base for travel except for day trips.
      Although there is usually no charge involved for the house (and beware of those that do charge) some homes will ask that you pay for those things they wouldn’t use if the owners left the house unattended. Air conditioning for example. We paid the a/c bill for the month (it was minimal). We think that’s fair.
      Another negative could be the season. Many people want to leave their homes during it’s worst season. Home swaps are especially like this. You aren’t likely to trade your Chicago apartment for a Costa Rica home in say… January. It’s often the same with house sitting. Cabo in July was HOT.
      Still another downside with house sitting is that you have very little recourse if things go wrong. What if you’ve arranged a 4 week stay, bought your plane ticket, etc and they change their minds (maybe for a good reason, like a death in the family)? You’re stuck. Or what if you get there and it’s more isolated than you thought it was going to be, or after two weeks you’re bored to death. You can’t just leave (what about the pet?).
      ON THE PLUS SIDE, although most house sits are for 2 to 4 weeks, some are for several months. Once in a while I see someone looking to exchange a small apartment for part time help, so it’s a permanent position. And I’ve read about people who have set up house sits so that they go from area to area. Some have gone a whole year just doing house sits.
      Maybe the best reason to do a house sit is to help you decide if you want to live in an area. If you could spend a month there, in a real neighborhood, you would have a chance to get the feel of the place…. and price apartments.
      Hope this helped.

  23. todd

    Hey Earl,
    thanks for the info. the question i have is this, even if you can get by for lets say $500 a month in mexico, for lets say 7 or 8 months, or however long, what are you doing to earn that $500 each month. Not to get personal, but is that money that perhaps you’ve saved for a long time before heading out there, or do you make your money online, etc. that’s the part that i need to figure out if i were going to go. so any advice would be great. Thanks man, and take care!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Todd – Thanks for the comment and yes, there definitely has to be some way of earning or having that money ahead of time. And there are infinite ways to make it happen. Some people prefer to live at home, work a couple of jobs for a year, save up as much money as possible and then go to another country for a while. Other people look at options such as teaching English or working as a timeshare salesperson in the destinations they want to visit. As for me, I do work online, having several projects that keep me going, including this blog. But again, there are endless ways to make such a trip a reality…you just need to figure out what you’re most comfortable with and what makes the most sense for you!

  24. artur

    Just my 3 cents about Chiang Mai. In terms of accomodation, you can have your own with aircon and wifi for about 5000 Baht (170 USD) in the old town.
    However, if you want to do things, I doubt that you can live comfortably for remaining ~300 USD. Just food eaten outside was costing me approx 250 Baht/day (preparing my own breakfast, and mostly eating in street stalls, just letting myself for delicious steak once a week). Then, all the daily trips around were starting at 800, and could go up to 3000 Baht (the famous ziplining experience).
    To sum up, going out, doing things and spending moderately would cost me equivalent of 1200 USD per month.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Artur – Thanks for the info on your spending thoughts for Chiang Mai. I think what you said makes sense although some people do have different spending habits so the total amount will fluctuate. I do know of many people living quite well in Chiang Mai for far less than $1000 but yes, one could easily spend much more 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your time there!

  25. Vic

    I am reading all this and trying to figure out simething else. I will be retiring in half a year and as per (Social Security Administration) if you are out of the country (USA) for more than 30 days they might cut off your soscial security benefits! Any advice?

    1. Bill

      Hi Vic, I didn’t think that sounded right, so I checked. Except for a few “unfriendly” countries, you CAN receive benefits while you live abroad, as long as you are eligible. Here is the official SSA website on the subject – And here are a couple of other opinions E- How and Overseas Digest The problems listed are logistics involved in getting the money to you, but are easily overcome. Good luck

    2. Bill

      One other thing. If you are NOT a citizen of the USA, your payments MAY stop after 6 months unless you meet one of the following exceptions They are listed here —

  26. Kristen

    Hey Earl,

    This is great! I just stumbled across this because I was interested in finding places to live abroad on the cheap. I’m huge on Mexico (I actually did an internship in Sayulita and Punta de Mita in summer 2011… love that area!

    Have you done any housesitting? That’s another affordable way (well, duh, it’s usually completely free) to travel the world. I was looking at a place in Mexico to stay and for watching some pets, I could live there…for free!


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kristen – I haven’t done house-sitting yet but it certainly is a great way to travel and live in different places. I’m sure I’ll try it eventually! And yes, Sayulita/Punta de Mita is a wonderful corner of Mexico 🙂

      1. Richard

        House sitting can be a great way to live economically in another country. When I first moved to Panama I was fortunate enough to land a house sitting gig in the mountains of Chiriqui Province in western Panama in a place called Potrerillos Arriba. It was an almost brand new house complete with a dog. In the mornings I’d sit out on the front porch with a steaming mug of locally-grown coffee and could see all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. On the back porch Volcan Baru, the country’s highest peak loomed over us.

        I paid for the electricity (around $20/month) the satellite t.v. service ($40/month but if it had been up to me I’d have dropped it) the internet hookup ($45/month) and a maid came in once a week for half a day. ($10 each visit) Plus cooking gas which cost me about $15/for the six months I was there. So, for less than $150/month I had a fantastic place to live.

        Right now I’m renting a full-furnished, newly renovated house in the small town of Boqueron not too far away from Potrerillos. I pay $175/month and take care of the yard. The only problem with that is that it’s a two-hour yard and I have a one-hour back.

        1. John Starr

          I read your comments on this site and you sound like the guy I need to talk to. My wife and I are planning to look at Panama to live there but we have about a $1,000.00 per month coming in. We were thinking of taking one of those “Relocations and Retirment Tours” but am not for sure. They all say “This is the only tour like this in Panama.” Are they worth the time and money or what suggestions do you have?

          John Starr

          1. Richard

            John – You have to understand that I’m a bit of a contrarian, and I’m opposed to most organized stuff and high on the list would be “relocation tours.” Most of them are geared towards people who are looking to buy a house rather than rent or house sit if you should be so fortunate to land such a gig.

            I think your money would be better spent coming down here and poking around on your own. You can get almost anywhere in the country on a bus and it’s dirt cheap compared to the States. With my “pensionado” discount the 7-hour bus ride from Panama City out here to David in Chiriqui Province costs me $12 and change. It would be a bit more without the discount but it shouldn’t break the bank. Stay in hostels. Most have private rooms for around $25/night plus interesting people staying there to talk with. In David I highly recommend Bambu Hostel. I’ve stayed there several times prior to moving here for goo.

            My personal opinion is that Chiriqui Province is the best place for retired people to settle. Highly-hyped Boquete isn’t my cup of tea. Fairly expensive compared to much of the country and just to damned many gringos to suit me, but I understand that there’s a certain “comfort level” for many since you can get by with English only for much of what you need to do. David, here, is the third largest city in the country (Colon is second) so there’s access to banks, good super markets, two excellent private hospitals, restaurants.

            Before making the final plunge I made three trips here and explored the country. I very much liked Pedasi though there’s practically nothing to do there. I liked Chitre which is a happening little city and neighboring Los Santos. That area would have been my second choice. I didn’t much care for Santiago but to each his own.

            Panama’s an excellent place, in my estimation, to retire and you CAN live here on less than a grand a month and be comfortable doing so.

    2. Bill

      We did a month long house sit in Cabo Mexico last year. Actually, it was a B and B sit because they close during the summer and the owner wanted someone on site while she was gone. It was great, including the pool right outside our door. We paid our share of the utilities, which was minimal. The only downside, and this is very common with house sits, was that it was definitely NOT the season we would have chosen to visit. It was hot. You’ll often find that people who want a house sitter want one so they can get away from snow, heat etc.
      If you’re doing this to explore an area before deciding to live there, you might want to consider home exchanges as well. Our experience with home exchanges, especially in Europe, is that they want to exchange for at least two weeks – usually 3 or more – so it’s a good way to explore an area.

  27. paul

    Any readers have ideas about a good place for a handicapped person to have a nice retirement? My friend Blaine is in an electric wheel chair but can also navigate on crutches. I know India fairly well and have mostly ruled that out for him

    Many thanks for your feed back.

  28. Dave Anderson

    I live in Albuquerque New Mexico.Yes its in the USA.
    This gangbanger meth invested city was just voted number 1 for a great place to retire.LMAO.
    However they did say that the crime rate was very high,but you can avoid the high crime areas.
    Hopefully the bad guys don’t have cars and will not invade the good areas.
    What a farce.
    The point is crime is everywhere.
    Always be aware of your surroundings,carry a big stick.
    40 caliber is a good size stick.
    Peace and happy traveling….

  29. Dave

    I’m sitting in a restaurant in Sacramento California now making reservation to Thiland..
    Thanks for the information to do something I have always wanted to do.

  30. Kyle

    I use to get the same thing in Australia all the time. “Don’t go to Kings Cross it’s dangerous, don’t go to Coogee at night there’s always bar fights”. You know what? I saw 2 cops ever at a bar and never ever ever felt in danger drunkingly wandering home at night at 5am. I’m not saying to be stupid but places are certainly safer than you assume.

  31. Bill

    Hi Beth, Earl’s right. Let me give you an example. I’m 64 and live in a mid size American city. My wife signed up to spend 2 months in Queretaro Mexico to study Spanish. With all the news about Mexico, our family and friends were wringing their hands. So I looked up the stats. Queretaro, which is twice the size of my city, had a quarter of the number of murders. And I think my city is very safe. We never worry about going out. We’ve been all over Mexico, in buses, cars, taxis, walking. And we have never, not once, been in a situation we felt was unsafe (well, there was that one cab driver whose driving made us really nervous). Most violence, everywhere, including the US, is between people who know each other – whether it’s drug related or family disputes. Just use common sense. Don’t get drunk. If your gut says this looks dangerous – leave. Don’t flash expensive items (jewelry, i-pods, etc). Learn some of the language. With the monthly income you have, you could live just about anywhere except Scandinavia. Just don’t expect it to be like home. Have you considered Spain? Prices are decent, people are friendly, and it’s a part of Europe, which holds lots of opportunity for travel. Good luck.
    Also consider house sitting to check out an area, or home swapping.
    Check back in with Earl when you begin your adventure. We’d love to hear what you decide.

  32. Beth Mollenkamp

    Thanks for the information. I am a 63 year old woman living alone and thinking about spending the rest of my time exploring the world. I will only have about $38K to live on.

    My question is this: What about safety? How safe are these areas you talk about? Also, can you find furnished places easily?

    1. Earl

      Hey Beth – All I can say is that the world is much safer than we think! And these places almost always have much lower crime rates than most cities in the US, which is far more dangerous than most of the places I visit. If they were that dangerous, there certainly wouldn’t be endless numbers of foreigners venturing out into the world, moving to all different countries, looking for a better lifestyle. As for furnished apartments, I have never found that to be a problem anywhere…there are always such places available for rent. Hope that helps!

  33. Lien

    Hi Earl, thanks for the McCleod Ganj. Yoga and meditation sounds great! it’s on my togo list. I found out about it after reading the book ‘Cave in the Snow’ about Tenzin Palmo’s quest for unlightenment and her nunnery I like to check out the Tibetan art/craft there too. Happy traveling!

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  35. Jérémy

    Hey Adam,

    It’s very possible to live with less than 1000 USD in Western Europe. I lived in France for 2 years with 600 euros/month : I had my own 35m² appartment, in the very centre of a 100.000 habitants town, surrounded by the sea and amazing landscapes. Beer costs 2€ in this city, and everything is very cheap.

    I am now in Sweden, one of the most expensive european country, and I manage living with 800 euros per month.
    The point, I think, is to avoid capitals and touristic spots. Otherwise, in almost every european country, you can live for less than 1000 USD, for sure.

    I’ve only spent 2 weeks in Portugal but it’s crazy cheap. You can have great meals for only 5€ in the nicest restaurants in Porto for instance. A room in a flatmates is around 150/250 euros/month (depend of the location, but public transportation are quite good where ever you are in the country). People are very easy going, it’s sunny all the time, and Portugal definitely has amazing landscapes (check “Algarve” on Google Images). You’ll love it!

    I’m planning to move to south Spain for the fall. I only earn 500€-600€ / month with my web-business for the moment, so I’ll have to find a place where I can live there, and still have fun and meet people outside.

    Keep going!

    Jérémy, french traveller/writer/blogger.

  36. Adam

    Hi Earl,

    Cool article! I just found your site.

    I’ve been living abroad on and off for the last several years and always on less than 1000US per month. All my time overseas has been living in various Brazilian cities but I usually spend between 500-800US, no matter if small town or big city.

    I’d like to do this somewhere like Portugal or Spain, and since I work online, I’m thinking I could live in Western Europe for less than 1000US as well. To rent a room in Lisbon, for ex, is about 375US. The rest is all about cooking at home, taking public transport, getting a pre-paid phone and living in places where the rest of the bills are already under the owner or other renter’s name.

    What are your thoughts on W. Europe? Doable? Have you done it?


    1. Earl

      Hey Adam – It’s definitely doable but it just depends on how comfortable you want to be. I would prefer to live in Eastern Europe where my money goes much farther so that I can do more activities, travel the region more and experience more. In Western Europe, on $1000 per month you’ll have to watch what you spend and will be limited as to what you can do overall. But it’s definitely possible if that’s what you’re looking for.

  37. Gregory

    This list can go on and on. Egypt is dirt cheap, it has been some time but I stayed there for a month on about $200. Hostels, traveling and food are so cheap its almost free. China is also cheap, almost any city its easy to live on 1000USD. Mongolia also a cheap destination.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gregory – Egypt is definitely a good option and I never knew that Mongolia was cheap as well. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Angel

    wow, that is amazing that you can keep it within US$1000 a per month. I estimated personally for two people to live in a serviced apartment in most cities, it would cost US$4000 per month. But as a single, i think US$1000 is doable with the basics without the luxuries.

    1. Earl

      Hey Angel – Serviced apartments are always going to be several times more expensive. You can easily get the same luxury for much, much less if you find an apartment on your own 🙂

  39. Andy

    Yes, living on less than $1000 a month is possible in many places. After all, most locals have to live off way less than that! But what about health care? Sure, with insurance you always get it back afterwards but what if you have to shell out a lot of money upfront for an emergency? This can really become a problem in poor countries where you don’t want to rely on the substandard local public healthcare system and thus have to visit private clinics which can be pretty expensive.

    So a good choice would be to have some additional money saved up for emergencies and to never travel without health insurance.

    1. Earl

      Hey Andy – I agree and I always recommend health insurance for every traveler. My current plan covers 50% of my medical expenses overseas so that would help out a great deal in an emergency. And that plan is quite reasonable at less than $100 USD per month (reasonable for the US!). But you’re right, having insurance and backup funds is a good idea for those times when things don’t go according to plan.

  40. Magic Travel Tanya

    Great list of places. You could include Siem Reap, Cambodia in that list. We have been here for four weeks now, between the two of us, we have probably spent close to $1200. That includes paying for our visa extensions of $150 in total. And we have lived well. Very well. In a very fancy awesome hotel room with all the goods… living abroad can be so much cheaper 🙂

    1. Earl

      @Magic Travel Tanya – Thanks for adding that information about Siem Reap…that certainly falls into the category of ‘under $1000 per month’. Enjoy your fancy room over there 🙂

      1. Magic Travel Tanya

        Yep, just completed our month… checked the spreadsheet, cost a total of $1224.15 for two people or$612.075 for one person… and we ate fancy food twice a day! pretty damned please, you should consider hanging out in SR… 😀

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      1. OHM

        Brasov is better 😉 Beautiful mountain town in Transilvania. So is Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj, etc. The capital has its charm but it’s a typical big city…

        1. Earl

          @OHM – I’ve been to Brasov and it’s definitely a beautiful place, but for me, it’s too small to live in for such a long time like I am living in Bucharest. All of the places you mention are great and I loved visiting each one but I do need more of a city at this point!

  42. Lily Sandalwood

    I have traveled in Thai Land and dream of returning again now that we are retired. Thank you for confirming that the rates are still that good. Now, where is that suitcase?

    Safe Paths

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