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.
PARADISE IS CHEAP!
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.
THE QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF IS…
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.
WHERE YOU CAN LIVE FOR LESS THAN $1000 PER MONTH
- 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 Vietnam (which has one of the lowest costs of living in Asia) 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?
How do you get around the need for a Visa, and the usual restriction to 90 days? Suppose I want to live in Mexico, or anyplace else in the world. How do I do it legally and stay there forever without a Visa or some other legal document allowing me to just move to some country?
Hey Mike – It depends on the country. For example, in Mexico, citizens of many countries can stay for up to 180 days. Then, you can leave the country and come back and you get another 180 days. Every country has different rules, many don’t require visas for stays up to a certain period of time. If you find a country where you really want to set up some roots, then you can always try to apply for a residency visa. Countries such as Mexico and many in Europe offer this option.
I get S 1500/month in SS & would like to find places that AREN’T tropical and have 4 seasons. I’ve been living in Florida for the past 21 years and I am SO SICK of heat, humidity, rain & hurricanes. Originally from NYC, I never thought I’d say this but I actually MISS the cold. I’ll be taking my grandson with me so that’ll have to be enough $$ for 2; though I can always work online if necessary. I can get by in Spanish and Italian. I’d appreciate any suggestions!! Thanks
Hey Guiliana – You could look at a place like Romania. Great country to live in, very affordable and has the seasons. Other options could be Portugal (might be a little tight on that amount but doable), Czech Republic or Spain but you’d need to live away from major cities to fit into your budget.
Any suggestions for a disabled (but still walking and getting around) US military veteran, wife and 2 teenage girls? I have been looking to get out of the mainland states for some time. Budget is limited to about $2,000 a month… Ideas welcome. Access to medical facilities (I have Crohn’s Disease) is important – nearby or not too long of a trip to regional military/VA hospital is important to us unless there is good state/governmental/private care that is affordable. Ideally not in a super humid area year round. We lived a lot of places in the US and are looking to explore. I really love the pacific islands and cool breezes most of the year, fresh foods and unique culture. Considering where to take a family is a whole other concern. I know the budget is small. We want to explore and live a little with what we have. I am a nerdy computer guy that spent 10 years doing real estate flips and running a sales team of dozens of agents. I love small business and would probably like to start-up something wherever we go – either helping other small businesses get published and online or in some real estate or hospitality business where I have some experience. Tech and island retreats seem opposites – but there seems to be a need for some upgrades – I can help. We volunteer with numerous charitable and community organizations and would love to do the same wherever we end up. Ideas welcome if any.
Thanks for commenting and a few of the places that come to mind based on what you’re looking for:
– Bali (you can live well there for $2000 and it pretty much has everything you need; it’s also less humid as you go higher up)
– Canary Islands (from what I’ve seen so far, you can live here for $2000 and have all you need)
– Lisbon, Portugal
– Brasov or Cluj or Sibiu, Romania
– Budapest (very affordable)
– Ecuador (popular with American expats and affordable)
– Chiang Mai, Thailand (inexpensive, lots of culture, very livable city)
Hey there Kathryn,
I am so encouraged by your post. I have a bug about moving to Ireland and spending my last year’s living small while painting.
I spent my life in the moment and have no complaints. Can I survive on my social security of 800.00 no anywhere in Ireland, near the coast would be best since in a California girl, of 64
Let me know if you find something like that in Ireland. I only get $1.000 U.S.D. myself.
I saw your post and it was like I had written it! I make 1000. per month on ss,I am a painter and I have always wanted to live in Ireland. Did you find out how much the cost is to live there ?
Great post! I have lived abroad for a short period of time previous (6 months) and I was lucky enough to know a family that let me stay with them for my transition. Flights I agree are the most expensive thing, and making sure you have all your paperwork in order. I need to click around more on your site, but do you or anyone you know of have blog posts about moving abroad with a pet? We are looking at relocating but as we have a furbaby we would love to take him with us as I am not willing to give him up. Some places are harder than others to get them into, and then upon return to your home country there are more requirements. Also, one must secure a place before going to explore as its much harder to take a cat with you (we would need a portable litter box, leash train, etc). …. dogs are better at wandering around with you for the day. If anyone else reading this has any tips please let me know also! I also tend to worry about areas where animals stroll the streets much more than in the US. Thoughts?
Hi Wandering Earl;
My wife and i went to China for four months. I took $1000. Canadian. We had a little money left over , so you know we were being frugal.
We rented a small hotel room with some cooking facilities. We did buy dinner for our friends once, that cost $100. We only went on 2 travel tours. Mostly we just either walked, or took the bus. We bought food at open markets and Walmart. Ate 3 meals a day. Had wifi, and also watched movies. It really helps if you have a local (in this case my wife) know how to shop.
why not mention the Philippines,. i have been there several times,and plan on making my move there in the next year or so. very good health care, everyone speaks English, and fairly cheap rent outside the major cities, and wonderful food.
I haven’t done so yet, but in two weeks I’ll be on my way to Ireland with a year-long work visa. I suppose that since I have yet to actually go, I can only say so much about the expenses. But Ive saved up enough to have ~$800-$900 to spend a month. I don’t intend to take on paid employment (even though I can if I need to), but using the websites Workaway.info and helpx.net, I’ve managed to secure spots in several B&Bs/farms/hostels that will provide me free room and board in exchange for ~25 hours of work per week. I have these accommodations lined up from a week after I get there all the way till January 2017 (and then I don’t know what I’ll do next yet). I seriously can’t imagine why I would be spending more per month than what I’ve saved if I’m living on farms that are far away from any sort of city.
So even in a place like Ireland, it’s still possible!
Why have you not mentioned Georgia Republic as a country you can live in for less than $1000 per month? My son lived there for a couple of years on far less than that amount. And he done well. I may have overlooked it but I don’t recall Georgia Republic on your list. I am thinking of moving there someday if I decide to move back overseas.
Retired Millitary and Retired on SS
Hey Walt – These are places I have visited myself and I haven’t been to Georgia yet but yes, I have heard that you can live there quite inexpensively so thanks for bringing it up.
You are welcome! I enjoy your information. interesting read. A lot of folks have no clue about cost of living in various locations. My son married a woman from Tbilsi Georgia. He said the average Monthly income there is about $500 a MONTH ! and his inlaws are doing fine with that amount.
I have lived Cotacachi over the course of 4 years 3 to 6 months at a time my last jaunt I rented a furnished studio with everything for $150 per month includes Wi-Fi water power I did not need cable I eat out a few times a week and I cook as well I will say my monthly budget for those three months was about less than $500. The best thing was the weather it was spring like all year. I don’t like hot weather so it is 40s 50s at night and 60 to 70 degrees in the day!
Wow! Nice to know you lived in Calcutta for a month. Did you see the Durga Puja, the biggest festival of Bengalis? The entire city is full of pandals, makeshift structures mimicking current events & world heritage sites. Like in year 1998, there were lot of Puja pandals made in the shape of the ship Titanic. In 2001, there were pandals looking like Twin towers. All for 5days, of the Puja.
If you haven’t seen the Puja in Calcutta, you must visit during the puja. Would love to host you, if I’m in Calcutta. Your stay, local travel & food- all will be taken care of by me & my family. Warm invitations.
[…] Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month – … – 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? […]
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!
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
Excuse me Earl.. There is no room in Melbourne at that price..full stop.. These days they are putting people 2-4 in 1 room… Rents follow the rise in property prices which was a BUBBLE in the last 15 years…
When I was there that’s what I paid. I didn’t say it was the same today, The post was written awhile ago as you can see.
Reading your tips and life we can see that is possible to live without so much money. Thank for sharing your tip, Earl.
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.
Hey Todd – I do have a contact down there who you can email. Her name is Liz and she can be reached at: [email protected]. 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!
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 $865 per month. Oh, and I’m really allergic to fragrance, so any thoughts on best places to live to avoid that?
I’m interested in this issue as well. I’m not specifically interested in moving to Mexico, but it is on the list of possible places. I am disabled and collect social security disability. I understand from my research, that I can not use my Medicare insurance outside of the U.S., so I need to have access to quality, inexpensive medical care. (I say quality, rather than state-of-the-art, US standard medical care because while this kind of care does have a lot to offer, I don’t believe that it is the only viable care available). My husband and I would need to be able to live comfortably on my disability alone unless/until he can find local work. My other question is: Do you know of a resource online where I can enter a list of qualities I’m looking for in an expat location, and it will return a list of countries?
Hey Cat – I just found this one: https://internationalliving.com/2015/05/take-the-45-second-quiz-and-find-your-perfect-place-to-live-overseas/
And I know there are a couple of others out there but I can’t remember them exactly right now. I’ll keep searching and if I can find them, I’ll add them for sure!
Hey Suzanne – There aren’t any restrictions or requirements at all. You are free to spend as much time as you wish in foreign countries. As for avoiding fragrances, I’m really not too sure. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about or done research on. I don’t think there will be any place that would be any different from wherever you live now.
Thanks Earl! So sorry I haven’t checked in for nine months!
cheap or with Medicare?Hey suzanne I’m TJ I also am disabled n live on my disability is 900$ 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
Hi TJ, also sorry for being nine months late…
And thank you as well. I don’t know anything about meds, maybe you’ll get so healthy you won’t need them any longer!
Most countries have basic pharmacies- you walk in and ask, most assume you are an adult and know what you need.. or ask The pharmacy
[…] full-time for less than $14,000 per year. Don’t think it’s just us either, because all of thesepeople are writing about […]
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.
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!
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.
Thanks for the encouragement; sorry I’m late!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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 .
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.
Hey Anish – The place in McLeod is Drepung Loseling Guesthouse, right off the main road in the center of town.
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 🙂
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.
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?
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!
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!
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!
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!
Hey Suzanne – Thanks for that and yes, I’m all better now!
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
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.
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.
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
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!
Hey Andrew – Thanks for commenting and this post here will answer your questions about how my family reacted to my decision!
[…] “Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month“ […]
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!!!!)
[…] Nomadic Matt’s How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, a blog post like Wandering Earl’s Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month, or a slew of sites whose sole purpose is saving you money on flights and travel, it is clear that […]
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.
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…..
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
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 🙂
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.
Hey Nya – It depends how long you plan to stay. The longer you stay, the cheaper it can be generally.
Do you still live there? Is it safe for two women to live for a couple months?
[…] of my favourite articles from the site is this one because I love being able to leverage my dollar and live a great lifestyle on the cheap. I am […]
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.
Hey Chris – Thank you for sharing those details, very helpful to see such a breakdown!
Hi Chris, just to clarify. That budget was for 2 people?
[…] “Wandering Earl” is a great travel blog written by Derek, but better known as, “Earl.” Earl has spent a travel career of sorts by visiting places all over the world. He’s been “on the road” for years and has collected lots of great information on living abroad, making money, and planning out trips. Reading his blog has been quite inspiring to me. […]
[…] full-time for less than $14,000 per year. Don’t think it’s just us either, because all of thesepeople are writing about […]
[…] “Wandering Earl” is a great travel blog written by Derek, but better known as, “Earl.” Earl has spent a travel career of sorts by visiting places all over the world. He’s been “on the road” for years and has collected lots of great information on living abroad, making money, and planning out trips. Reading his blog has been quite inspiring to me. […]
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!
[…] full-time for less than $14,000 per year. Don’t think it’s just us either, because all of thesepeople are writing about […]
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!
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!
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?
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!
Since this article was first published in 2010, would you say that this is your most successful post re: longevity?
Would you say that your method works for traveling inside the United States? Thanks!
Hey Christy – Absolutely! You can definitely apply the same principles when in the US to keep things as inexpensive as possible.
I’m considering travel writing exclusively in the fifty states and territories. Would you say your method would work for me? Thanks!
[…] full-time for less than $14,000 per year. Don’t think it’s just us either, because all of thesepeople are writing about […]
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[…] for reduction than $14,000 per year. Don’t cruise it’s customarily us either, given all of thesepeople are writing about […]
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,
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!
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.
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.
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.
Hey Debi – Just have a read of these posts which explain it all!
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!
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.
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…
[…] https://www.wanderingearl.com/living-abroad-for-less-than-1000-per-month/ […]
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…
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??
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.
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.
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.
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).
Wandering Earl, would a good site to venture into for working on a cruise ship? Great information once again.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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…
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!
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!
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!
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
Great post as always! I thought I would share a post of mine where I show exactly how I keep track of my budget. It’s really nerdy but it works!
You can also live in the Philippines on much less than $1000 a month.
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?
Hey Pete – For medical insurance you can read: https://www.wanderingearl.com/how-ive-handled-travel-insurance-over-the-years/
And for banking, I just use a couple of US banks that don’t charge any fees for international transactions or ATM withdrawals. And that’s all there is to it.
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.
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.
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.
Back in 1997 while I was in India, I made $100 a month. I lived on $70 and saved $30. Now in Canada $120,000 a year is not enough.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for reading Darrell and I’ll certainly be curious to see where you end up on your adventures!
Thank you all for the great recommendations!!! I LOVE the Globetrottergirls’ website! And I also really love the housecarers.com website, and all the wonderful, wonderful positives and negatives to house/pet sitting around the world! Thank you so much!!!
Hey Nicole – The Globetrotter Girls are one of my favorites as well…and they are such wonderful people in person too!
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.
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!!!!!
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 Helpx.net, working on cruise ships, etc.
And for house-sitting jobs, you might want to check out this blog: GlobetrotterGirls.com
They do house-sitting all over the world and have a great resource that helps others do the same!
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.
Hey Charlene – Try this site out 🙂 https://www.wanderingearl.com/travel-resources/work-on-cruise-ships
I can speak to the house sitting issue. We belong to housecarers.com, 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.
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!
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!
I wouldn’t have expected that about Australia! Great to know that even “expensive” destinations are still totally affordable on a backpacker’s budget.
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.
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!
I am reading all this and trying to figure out simething else. I will be retiring in half a year and as per ssa.gov (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?
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 – https://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/512/~/receiving-social-security-benefits-when-living-overseas And here are a couple of other opinions E- How https://www.ehow.com/list_6882576_social-benefits-citizens-living-abroad.html and Overseas Digest https://www.overseasdigest.com/odarticles/receive1.htm The problems listed are logistics involved in getting the money to you, but are easily overcome. Good luck
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 exceptionshttps://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10137.html#a0=1. They are listed here —
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 – 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.
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.
Pocatello or Twin Falls Idaho.
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.
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….
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.
Hey Dave – I hope you went through with it and now have your flight to Thailand all booked!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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 https://tenzinpalmo.com/visiting/index.htm. I like to check out the Tibetan art/craft there too. Happy traveling!
[…] am by no means the first person to write about this. Don’t think it’s just me, because all of these people are writing about […]
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.
Jérémy, french traveller/writer/blogger.
You just might be my hero! Thanks for the info about Western Europe!
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?
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.
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.
Hey Gregory – Egypt is definitely a good option and I never knew that Mongolia was cheap as well. Thanks for sharing!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 🙂
@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 🙂
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… 😀
[…] Earl, a permanent nomad as he says he is, I got encouraged. After reading his truly inspirational Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month article, I started to get my hopes up. And now, more than ever, I want to do it. And I know I will […]
Bucharest, as you know …
Hey Hans – Bucharest can definitely be added to this list!
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…
I meant to say “so are” not “so is”…need more coffee today
@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!
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?
India is where we are heading in October …. see how it goes from there 🙂
Im 47 year old retired cop who left early with a small pension. $950 month got a few grand saved up and working as a registered Nurse part time planning to travel when I’m 50 !! Done Australia N/Z Thailand thinking of moving to Thailand or another cheap country to live in !!! No kids and divorced twice think its now or never !! What’s the best single bit of advice can you give !!!
Hey Graham – So I guess you’re not too far away from departure these days! Before you know it you’ll be on the road. As for advice, the best piece of advice I can give is to simply make sure that you follow through with your plan. You have no idea what kind of incredible opportunities will open up for you once you move to Thailand or wherever you end up and as a result, your life will lead you to place you never before imagined! And all you need to do is take that first step!
I’m glad I discovered your site. I enjoyed reading everything you wrote and the comments of your readers/subscribers. I myself love traveling. I being a Filipino have been to Asian countries only and of course to other places of my country.
Most of the topics above are talking about the cost of living abroad especially on Central America and other South East Asian countries. Let me inform you that the cost of living in my country Philippines is also low just like Thailand, where food and basics needs are cheap.
I am proud to say that we have beautiful pristine beaches in Palawan (that is if one wants a laid back community), Boracay if one wants to party and clubbing, Cebu, Bohol, etc etc . . .
If anyone who wants to retire and live in the Philippines under US$1000, that is feasible.
Hey Cora – Thank you for the comment and for your input about the Philippines! It’s a shame that more people don’t make it to your country because everything I’ve heard about the Philippines has been overwhelmingly positive. I haven’t been there myself and I can’t wait to go…hopefully it will be in the near future 🙂
I am interested in India I think 1000.00 per month could do it there
Do you feel that Mexico is a better place to live than India
Hey Cathy – Those are two very different countries and it would be a personal decision based on the type of environment you want to live in. But either way, you could live for $1000 per month in both of those countries, so they are two good options!
I admire you! That’s all for now:)
Thanks for that Shan 🙂
Good luck to you in your retirement. I agree with Earl (as usual) that you have a large selection of choices. In some countries, your increased income will make you feel rich (maid, gardener, etc). I would add some other things to think about before you make your choice.
How willing are you to learn a language? Even though lots of people live abroad without learning the local language, it will isolate you from the local population if you don’t. I suppose some folks only go for the weather and the low cost, but frankly I think that’s a missed opportunity. But even if you learn the language, you’re probably never going to sound like a native and may miss hearing your native tongue.
Also consider the weather. Ireland, for instance, is very very friendly. The weather…. not so much. Are you averse to cold, wet, hot, etc?
Another consideration is travel, as in do you want to? Europe has a wonderful transportation system, so living there (Spain can be inexpensive; living in a hamlet outside of the Stuttgart area of Germany would put you right in the center of Europe) would open up a whole world for you. And along the same line, exploring a single country could take a lifetime (Mexico is huge, cheap and has a great long distance bus system).
Still another consideration is the cost of seeing your family. You can of course “see” them on Skype, but to get a hug will mean travel. Flying from Mexico to the U.S. would be reasonable (remember that prices only go in one direction and that direction is not down), but flying from Spain to the US could get pricey.
And one more thing is how romantic is your vision (not romance as in boy – girl)? Do you see yourself in a palm roofed cottage on the ocean (or something similar)? That will get lonely. A better option might be (I say “might” because everyone is of course different) an apartment in or near the center of town where you could take daily walks and say hello to the shopkeepers. So look at your dream from every angle. Try to find the downside as well as the upside (and vice versa).
And finally, why not try out several places? Make a short list of the places that would fit your ideal and then rent a furnished studio apartment for a few months. Or rent a larger place and get some of the family to visit and give their opinion. For instance, this year our family in going to rent a 3 bedroom apt in Merida Mexico for a month for $1000 (utilities included). That’s a lot more than what you would pay to live there, but it will tell us whether or not we want to live in Merida (like you, we’re looking for a place to settle….but only for 1/2 the year for us).
Hope this helped. Tell us what you’re thinking about. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would love to read about your thought process and how you proceed (and how you fare).
This is my present situation: I have three children (and grandchildren) who live in 1) Long Beach, California; 2) central Connecticut; and 3) Galway, Ireland. I am single, retired and get approximately $1800 per month (net) with my pension. That will be increased by about $1400 per month when my Social Security kicks in in four years.
My “problem” is when the whole world is open to you, how do you choose where to live? For most of my adult life I was agoraphobic. Except for driving on highways and bridges, I no longer have this affliction.
I want to live in a walkable community with good public transportation. And I want easy access to an airport so I can still visit my kids. However, I’m rather shy and introverted and would like a place that is welcoming and friendly. Any ideas?
Thanks for you help.
Hey Donna – Thanks for the comment and I’d say you have dozens and dozens of possible options for a great place to live! First, I would start off by thinking about the regions of the world that most excite you. If you could fly somewhere today, some place that you’ve always thought about visiting, where in the world would that be? Once you have an idea of what region really calls out to you, then you can start looking at the best cities/towns to live in, because you’ll find places that match your criteria in every corner of the world!
Just to give you a better idea, I can think of towns in Central America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia that might be ideal…as well as in Australia/New Zealand. So you’ll definitely have no problem finding that perfect place 🙂
I bought a apartment, brand new one in Beihai,China. I will retire there this May. I have spent 3 months there every year for the past 7 years. I spend the hottest time of the year there and with A/C running all day . food and travel. My wife and I live on $700 US dollars a month. e have a house keeper who comes in 3 days a week, eat out at very good places often, travel a lot and still this is what it costs during the summers there.
Thanks David for sharing that information about Chian! That seems like quite a nice setup you have over there.
Any comments concerning cost of visiting/living in the Philippines? I have visted there a few times and find it poor,hot and humid. Otherwise, I loved it.
Hey Jayson – I’ve never been to the Philippines so I can’t really say. But I do know several people who have lived their long-term and they all informed me that a comfortable lifestyle can be had for very little money. And when you combine that with beautiful beaches, it seems to be a perfect option for many people looking to live overseas without spending too much.
In my working years I had the good fortune to be able to live for three years on the French Riviera and Spain’s Costa del Sol and get PAID for doing it…I was the captain of a large sailboat.
But I knew for decades that unless I wanted to work until the day I died I’d have to leave the U.S. and find a place where my Social Security check would allow me a comfortable living. I found it in Panama. I get $1,200/month and so far at the end of each month I have more money than I started with. For nearly 15 months I house sat in the mountains of western Panama. In the mornings I’d sit out on the front porch with a steaming mug of locally-grown coffee and stare down at the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Total cost to live in such luxury? About $150 U.S. a month!
When the owners of the house returned I moved to a small pueblo about 35 miles from the Costa Rican border where I rent a lovely, fully-furnished 2 bedroom/2 bath house next to a small river for the extortionate sum of $175/month!
You can get a good plate lunch of chicken, pork or beef WITH a cold bottle of beer for under $3. If I have dinner at a more expensive restaurant I can knock off 25% with the senior-citizen “Jubilado” discount. Of course I don’t ask for the discount when I’m getting a good meal for less than the price of a “Happy Meal” at McDoo Doo’s.
A bottle of local Panamanian beer in the market will set you back between 35 cents and a half buck a bottle and at any of the neighborhood bars it will rarely be more than 75 cents. A bus ride from my house to the border with Costa Rica costs me under a buck. Baseball is a BIG sport here in Panama with their own national league. A ticket for a box seat goes for $4. First-run movie? Seniors get in for 1/2 price so it costs me a buck and a half.
Life is good here for way under a grand a month.
Hey Richard – Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Panama! That certainly does seem to be a great place to live for under $1000 per month and I’m sure your information will prove useful to anyone reading this post. It just shows that we have so many options out there to live/travel cheaply but most of us just don’t know about them.
Keep on enjoying life down in Panama!
I appreciate you sharing your experience in Panama. However, I thouht you were limited to the amount of time you could spend there being a tourist. How did you spend 15 mos. there without penalizing your stay? Then even longer when living near Costa Rica? Thanks!
Paul: I am retired here in Panama as a “Jubilado.” I don’t ever have to leave if I don’t want to. Tourists, on the other hand, are restricted to 180 visits. Then they simply leave and return. Supposedly one is required to leave for 72 hours but I’ve read of people who pass over to CR, get their passports stamped and return immediately with no hassles. I don’t know. I don’t have to do that. I do know of people who live here as perpetual tourists making runs for the border for years. Two are Americans who have been here for a dozen years and even own businesses.
I am very happy to find your web site . Im 51 years old and live in Canada. I want to start spending 3 months Jan-April a year in mexico starting @ 55. I will retire at 60. So when you say a person can rent plus exspenses for $ 1000.00 per month gives me hope. I felt I would have to wait until 60yrs. Also is there places to learn conversersion spanish cheaply.
Hey Stewart – Welcome to the site! As for Mexico, it really is possible to live well on that amount of money. So there should be nothing stopping you from making it happen. With Spanish lessons, language schools tend to be quite expensive but usually you can find someone who is willing to give you private lessons for much cheaper. I was taking private lessons 4 times per week and it cost me $25 USD per week!
Hate to be a ballbuster here, but in checking your links I don’t see antway you could be getting what you claim to on rentals. I checked out the one place in your article on how to get cheap apartments and it isn’t plausible. All those places are charging same rates as hotels in America and more. I don’t believe you get a place costing $130per night to rent to you for $400 or whatever. Even a $50 per night room would be $1,500
a month. We are mostly talking $1,500-$3,900++++ at nightly rate. I don’t see them giving you that kind of deal. Also it’s obvious you preview, and don’t post negative comments on your blog. Maybe it’s a one man running dialogue. Makes you money I guess, but I’d hate to be a travelor who takes your advise and is in for a rude reality when they hit the road!
Hello Carol – Thank you for taking the time to comment. And it’s not that I preview comments, but like most blogs, first-time commenters or those commenting from suspicious email addresses are automatically sent into the ‘pending comment’ folder in order to prevent any spam or worse affecting the site. I’m more than happy to post negative comments as well. Not sure how it’s obvious that I don’t post them.
Anyway, you don’t have to believe what I write, but if I was giving out false information, I’m quite certain that my site would not be enjoying as large and active a community as it currently enjoys 🙂
Hi Earl, Well, I’ve been following your advice for a while now and have done pretty well. I rented a 3 bedroom apartment in Querétaro Mexico for $700 for the month. I know that’s not dirt cheap, but Querétaro isn’t the cheapest place in Mexico (only an hour and a half by bus from Mexico City). It’s within walking distance from the zocolo, includes all utilities and has free wifi. That’s $24 a night for 3 bedrooms. And it’s really nice – not some little cramped place. (by the way that would be $8/nt per bedroom). I saw a place later for $150 less, but I like this place a lot.
Hey Bill – Thank you for sharing your situation and sounds like you have quite a deal in Queretaro! I love that city actually and have a good friend who lives on a ranch about twenty minutes away from the city center. There’s something about the purple color that seems to cover the semi-desert landscape right around sunset…I’ll never forget it.
Keep on enjoying yourself over there!
Hi Earl. Thanks for some inspiring writing. I am about to leave my job and my partner and I (both 50 somethings) have been thinking about an adventure. Maybe 2 or 3 months in 3 or 4 places around the world taking a year out from life in the UK. We love the idea but also find it a little daunting and scary so your writing has really helped us see the excitement and opportunity! One question – do you tend to find your accommodation once you arrive? I’ve tried internet searches for places to rent but usually get directed to upscale/hotel type places which are very expensive.
Keep up the great work (maybe its pleasure as much as work?)
Thanks once again!
Hey Roy – I appreciate the comment and that’s great to hear that you’re thinking of heading off for a while. I normally find accommodation once I arrive, for the very reason that you discovered already…everything you find online ahead of time is geared towards foreigners only and is therefore much more expensive. Here’s a post I wrote that will give you a better idea of how I rent apartments while traveling: How To Rent an Expensive Apartment For a Budget Price
That method works quite well in many parts of the world!
If you have any other questions at any time, please feel free to send me an email as well and I’d be more than happy to answer them as best I can…
Earl- I’m SOOO inspired by you! Your posts are amazing! I’m leaving for Chiang Mai in 2 weeks and am working on a TEFL online course. I can’t wait, and you’ve inspired me!!! Thank you for all your articles! Blessings and many more wonderful travels!
Hey Meg – You’ll have such a great time in Chiang Mai!! It’s one of the most livable cities I’ve ever come across, so full of possibilities for rewarding and interesting experiences and adventures. If you ever need any advice about that city, just send me an email and I’d be more than happy to help out!
Sorry to butt in, but I read Earl’s post when I was still at home and to be honest I found it hard to believe, coming from an expensive country. I’m in Chiang Mai now and it’s CRAZY CHEAP!! 😛
Thank u very much for all your tips…
Finally I`ve decided to limit my target at the northwestern – center – western part of Costa Rica using local transportation and having a place to stay by the month ( as I was looking a medium size room with wc not far away from the beach costs 500 $) …The aero plane ticket from Greece to San Jose is 1200$… Anyway more work has to be done …
Earl , hi…
My name is Panayiotis (forty years old and I live in Greece ) ,I am very excited from your articles about the bag pack way of living around the world. My profession is interior designer, and I am fed up visiting European countries the last twenty years and having the same dish all the time ..
I have visited US in the past (New York – California – Miami) with a group but I haven`t tried the southern part as Costa Rica – Venezuela –Panama…
I have decided to try a three month solo trip because I got fired from my job and I need to get away for a while… My budget for this trip is about 2.200 euro ,that’s why I need your help about condo`s near beach areas – your opinion about transportation and generally easy way of three month living there to enjoy my summer ( 1st june till 1st September),,,and my target country is Costa Rica…
thanks in advance ,keep up your excellent work…
Hey Panayiotis – Thank you for the comment! Unfortunately, I don’t have too much information about condos near the beach in the countries you mentioned. Most of the time I spent living in that part of the world took place in Mexico. But you should not have much problem at all accomplishing your goal. If you don’t mind being in a small beach community and not a main tourist area, then you could find a place for three months that won’t cost you much money at all. I think you should be fine with your budget as long as you stay in one place and don’t move around too much. If you want to travel the region quite a bit and always use transportation and stay at hotels as well, then you might have a harder time sticking to that budget.
[…] For example, Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic, wrote that she traveled South America for 18 months on approximately $1000 a month. And Wandering Earl wrote about living on $1000 a month. […]
Spot on with $1000 a month you can live very well in lots of countries, here in Chiang Rai Northern Thailand you can rent a 6 bed house “outside of town” for $250 a month and you would be hard pressed to spend $750 something smaller and central can easily be found for the same price. A few places in Thailand will find you having to be careful with just $1000 a month Phuket comes to mind as it is the most expensive place to live way ahead of Bangkok.
Hey Neale – Thanks for sharing that information! That’s very useful stuff. And I hope all is well up there in Chiang Rai, which has always been a city I enjoyed exploring once a month or so when I was living in Chiang Mai. Enjoy!
Thanks Earl: I’m currently documenting 31 days of living in Chiang Rai with $400 a month showing what it affords and the kind of lifestyle you can expect.
Hi Earl! I am a young, by young I mean 19, stay at home mom and wife. My husband and I love to travel and I consider myself very cultural and diversified but we are unsatisfied with our current location (Houston, Texas). We do not fit here at all. We are very liberal, you see.. In Houston, there are no hills, the nearest beach is brown – not blue – and with our newborn, I feel she deserves so much more. I’m studying to become a conservationist lawyer. The need to conserve our beautiful planet is a concept many people here don’t seem to grasp. We are desperately wanting more out of life- I don’t want to spend my life knowing nothing more than America other than short visits or scripts in magazines and books. My husband’s job is international and he will need to continue working, I spend my time at home with my little one but could continue to volunteer (or even work) wherever I move so long as no one minds my little one. We’d like somewhere safe with a scene (mountains, hills, lakes, forests, you know- nature) and with the ability to commute via walking/riding a bike on a daily basis. Schooling is also extremely important. A relatively low cost of living is also a factor, but we can afford $1000/month with ease. We also prefer a temperate climate (no extreme temps – hot or cold, little to no humidity, and not a lot of sad rainy days). I (we) would reallllyy appreciate your advice when I ask you to please help us find the best place for US to live abroad! In advance, thank you so much for your help.
Hey Kristin! I appreciate the comment and can definitely offer a few suggestions, although it might be a little difficult to match all of your requirements. Some ideas that come into mind would be Mexico, Argentina, Thailand and Turkey. Each of those countries offer plenty of nature, good education, low cost of living and decent weather year round. Those would definitely be my first choices if I were looking to live for a lengthy period of time overseas.
And if any other questions come to mind, just send me an email through the site and I’d be more than happy to respond!
These personal experiences are exactly what I needed at this very moment. I am 48 years old and have an income of $700 per month (tax free SS disability), including about another $100 supplemental. So, at $800 per month, I can live my dream residing in countries, such as; Costa Rica, India, Thailand etc. Your stories are essential and inspirational. Thank you for the encouragement and insights. Now…
[…] The Lack of Difference Swindon: a poor man's Saigon What happens when living abroad is exactly like living at home? Living in Cáceres, in some ways, was a lot like living in Swindon (same nightspots, same small-minded people, same synonymy with pigs). Happen on a situation like that and it’s likely you’ll question why you jumped on a plane and spent all that money moving abroad at all. Granted. Three months in Cáceres is undoubtably better than three months in Swindon but it’s hardly the mind-blowing culture shock of somewhere in Southeast Asia or Africa. If you do need help: Wandering Earl’s cheap and different destinations abroad […]
[…] Living Abroad for Less than $1000 a Month – Wandering Earl shares his tips on locations around the world where he has lived for less than $1000 a month including India, Thailand, Mexico and even Australia. […]
Consider that you may be trading one kind of crap for another (except in another language). I’ve found that it helps to limit myself to no more than 1/2 an hour of news a day. Much less crap that way.
Amen and have to agree.
Hey wandering Earl,
Love your very informative website.Your website actually has meaningful info from someone who has done it.
I just retired at 62 on SS at $1,550.00 per month. No debt and can dump my house for 125K,plus 20K in savings.Would like to bring my motorcycle or buy one to get around.
Where would you live outside of the USA on this amount thats nice and safe,friendly etc.I am tired of the crap in America.I live in New Mexico.
Earl thanks for the nice email and info.
I’m trying to find a studio/casita/apartment for rent for the months of January, February and March, 2012 in Playa del Carmen (or environs). I’ll be writing, so ideally a bright, relatively quiet space with Internet access. I’d like to bring my cat. Do you have any suggestions? I’m hoping to pay between $500 and $600/month. As it’s high season, am I expecting the impossible? Thanks!
Hey Karol – That’s not impossible to find something in that price range for a one bedroom apartment. Most likely it will be located just outside the city center, especially if you want a more modern, comfortable place, but you’ll still be within walking distance to beaches, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.
Thanks, Earl, for your comments. Any suggestions of who I might contact to find such a place? I’ve tried Hora Feliz, but they’re apparently already booked for that timeframe.
Hey Karol – Another good option to try would be Croc Condos. You can find their contact details on their Facebook Fan Page. They offer a range of apartments, from studios to 1 BR to a penthouse and the location is quite good, about a ten minute walk from the exact center of town and less than ten minutes to the beautiful beach 🙂
My name is Jon. I have always wanted to travel, always being led to believe that I would never be abale to afford it. I am now disabled, limiting my walking and use of my arm greatly. Not sure where one could live on disablility, I have been doing some searching. But most sites are marketed to those without physical limitations. I guess my questions are where would someone like myself go, where I can get the medications and possible medical care I need. And what are the cost involved for these needs abroad. Also I have children whom I will want to travel back to see a couple times a year. What are the cheapest modes of travel? And are there any tricks for saving money on such expenditures? If you own your own car is it easier to bring it with or leave it behind? And lastly where are the countries with the best educational programs?
Hey Jon – While I’m not too familiar with your situation, I can try and offer some basic advice that might be useful. First, in most of the world, even in developing countries, you will have no problem finding the medications and medical care that you need. This is one of the reasons that so many Americans are flocking to places such as Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica, etc. to live. Of course, there is a cost involved as you will not be covered by insurance most likely and these costs can vary. I really don’t know what you can expect in terms of costs for the treatments you need, and while it won’t cost as much as it would in the US, it will still be a significant expense.
The cheapest mode of travel will depend on where you choose to live. For example, if you live in Mexico, you could take buses back to the US, although often times you can find flights for cheaper than the long-distance bus fares. If you were to live farther away, chances are your only option would be to fly. And the best way to find low airfares is simply to be flexible. If you don’t have set dates then you can check sites such as SkyScanner.net and Kayak.com in order to find the best fares available within a certain time period. Also, you might find AirNinja.com useful as this will give you a list of the budget airlines that fly the routes you need, many of which do not come up in normal online airfare searches.
And with a car, you would only take your own car if you are going somewhere such as Mexico or Central America as you can drive from the US quite easily to those destinations. Apart from that, there’s really no sense in shipping a car and in many parts of the world, a car simply isn’t needed. Public transportation is usually quite cheap and extensive in most of the world and having a car would just be an added expense.
In terms of educational programs, are you referring to schools for children or universities? If you can provide a little more information I may be able to offer a little more advice.
Hi Jon, One thing you need to know is that in many countries, especially “developing” countries which would be cheaper to live in, is that very often the infrastructure isn’t very walking friendly. In Mexico, for example, most often you’ll find high curbs, very narrow uneven sidewalks and lots of broken pavement. It can sometimes be difficult even for people without difficulties. Don’t let that discourage you – it’s just something to be aware of. Good luck to you.
Thanks alot for the reply Earl, I appreciate it. I see that you are in Serbia now, good luck with your adventure – I envy you 🙂
Thanks for this list, I had no idea that you could live in Australia for less than 1000$. I’d rather go to Thailand though because you probably get a better lifestyle for the same amount. Mexico sounds great too!
Hi Earl – thank you so much for all the information and motivation.
I’m originally from Turkey, but was born and raised here in the Netherlands. I have decided to leave the Netherlands, as soon as I have the opportunity. I want to live in a cheap country like other posters here. I think I have a serious opportunity to retire early in Turkey in my fifties. I have to pay a certain amount of money (around $ 50 thousand, I think). Here is the problem; I don’t want to wait 20 years, that’s just way too long for me…
I have to save enough money to be able to go at age 45, which means living 10 years without any income whatsoever (!), except my savings of course.. Anyway, here is my question; perhaps I could live 10 years (till I retire in Turkey at around age 55) in a cheaper country than Turkey? I mean Turkey is still cheaper than western countries, however it’s a rapidly developing industrial country and not as cheap as it used to be. You mentioned Syria, which is Turkey’s neighbour. What’s your opinion on this country for example? How much money would I need to live there for 10 years? If you have other countries in mind, please inform me because I’m open to all countries in the world. Thank you again for all the information and motivation! And I’m sorry for my flawed English, I hope I was clear..
Hey Ozcan – You definitely have some options but I think the best way to choose is to decide where you would be happy. There is no point in living in a cheap country for 10 years if you are not interested in that culture or you are not able to enjoy your life there. So once you have an idea of what part of the world you really would like to live in, then it becomes easier to choose a place to live. Some ideas to get you started would be Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, etc.) or Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, etc.) and yes, the Middle East, such as Syria. Here is a link to my Syria posts if you want to read some more information about this country. And it definitely is cheap. My guess is that you could live quite well there for about $800 USD per month. But again, make sure you choose a country that excites you!
hello, i am 20 years old living on guam right now. I am from Georgia and i came here to stay with my sister who is in the navy. I will be going home shortly to stay with my mother until the winter is over. It is hard to find a place to start over when I am looking at so many possibilities. I have looked into Colorado, California and Oregon but still feel like I should take an even bigger risk and try overseas living seeing as in I will only be able to do this for six months. My budget will only be about $500 a month for rent plus food, transportation, etc.. I am a little scared of being mugged or something like that because I will be alone and do not really have impeccable street smarts. I went to Mexico only on a mission trip. I am hesitant but extremely willing to live somewhere I’ve never been, after all its only six months. My question to you is where do you think would be safe yet fun and cheap yet classy?
Hey Melissa – Thanks for the comment and you definitely have some options in terms of finding a place to stay for six months or so. If you stay in one place and don’t move around too much, you could look at Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia) or even Mexico and much of Central America. As for being mugged, the most important thing is to use your common sense, the very same common sense you would use at home to avoid such a situation. The world is much less scary than people think! I’ve never been mugged, attacked or found myself in a scary situation in 12 years of traveling on my own 🙂
So perhaps you should look at a place like Chiang Mai, Thailand or maybe Leon, Nicaragua or even Playa del Carmen, Mexico. These are just a handful of possibilities but might be a good place to start your research!
I was wondering if you have a way to cut withdrawal cost while you travel. In some countries, we can only withdraw small amounts at ATM machine and the fee for each withdrawal is high. Can you get around that? Do you open an account in each country that you visit? If so, when you open an account in a country, is there a minimum time to keep it open and some cost to open the account in addition to the money transfer?
Hey Richard – The way I’ve been able to avoid paying any withdrawal fees is by opening an account in the US with Capital One bank. This bank offers checking accounts that do not have any fees for international transactions. In addition, a couple of their checking accounts also reimburse you for the fees that local banks charge in whatever country you may be traveling in. So as a result, you don’t have to worry about any fees whatsoever.
I know that Charles Schwab also offers similar accounts as well in the US. If you’re not located in the US, I would suggest trying to find a bank in your home country that may have a similar deal. This is much easier than opening up accounts in other countries, something that I’ve never done as it simply isn’t worth the hassle.
Hey Earl i was just wondering how safe most of these places are. Ive been doing a lot of research on living in countries for cheap. (btw you have to most informative website so far. thank you!) Mexico of instance has a huge drug cartel problem. I want to have the nomadic lifestyle but i also dont speak any languages besides englisl. (however i am learning spanish and plan to learn arabic.
Hey Brian – Thank you for the comment! To be honest, most of the world is incredibly safe, even the places that we think are not safe or that we are told are not safe by the media back at home. As for Mexico, life in 99% of this country is peaceful, safe and completely laid-back. Where I live, it is as safe as can be. The drug cartel problem exists in tiny pockets of the country and along the border of the US. The rest of the country is not affected. I saw a recent statistic that showed how Mexico City, a city of 25 million people that most people in the US think is dangerous, has a murder rate that is the same as Madison, Wisconsin.
The point is, if you pick up a newspaper at home, chances are you’ll find a lot more to be afraid than you’ll find in most places overseas!
I have taken early retirement and receive $1000.00 monthly. Your info is very helpful in terms of finding a suitable home in another country..except.
One thing I’m concerned about is healthcare or a good hospital. How would that work in another country. What about medication I take now. I now live in the United states. Thanks.
Hey David – I appreciate the comment and your question is quite a valid one. Healthcare standards are of course different wherever you go but in some places, such as Mexico and Thailand (two places where you could live for $1000/month), you’ll find high standards and good hospitals. Of course, any medical expenses would come out of your pocket as another country, unless you have citizenship or permanent residency, isn’t going to cover you. Travel insurance can help out for emergencies but generally it doesn’t cover routine appointments and check ups.
As for medication, depending on what it is, you might very well be able to find the same thing overseas but again, it depends on where you choose to live. If it is hard to find medications or medications that are simply not available overseas, you might have to plan a trip home once or twice per year in order to stock up. But if you do a quick internet search for the medication you require and a potential destination, such as “xxxx medication available in xxxxx” you should find your answer.
I hope this helps out but if you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email.
I work in the US and would like to purchase condo/home abroad. I haven’t made a transition to full time travel but would love to have some place where I can spend 1-2 months at a time. Any places you would recommend? And what are reasonable prices (if you know about purchases).
Sorry for the confusion. Thanks in advance!
@Bluegreen Kirk: Got it now. Sorry, it was 2:30am when I was checking comments last time so my exhaustion might have led to my confusion!
If you want to stay relatively close to the US, there are plenty of place in Mexico and Central America that might offer what you’re looking for. It also depends on whether or not you prefer the beach, mountains, big cities, small towns, etc but everywhere from Panama to Nicaragua and both coasts of Mexico offer great places to have a condo. I can’t speak for all of those places but using Mexico as an example, in Playa del Carmen one can purchase a 2 bedroom penthouse apartment close to the beach for $150,000 USD. So the good news is that if you chose a place that was less touristy, that number would drop significantly!
If you were looking to go farther away from the US, perhaps places such as Bali, Turkey or Thailand might be worth a look. Each country has their own rules as to whether or not foreigners can purchase property so in some places it can be tricky while in others it can be relatively straightforward.
It’s really hard for me to give more specific advice as I have yet to look for a place to purchase during my travels 🙂
This post just assures what I read when I picked up 4hourworkweek a few years ago. In the US people spend $500 on a car payment but aboard you can live very comfortable for the price many pay on extra things. Really enjoyed this post!
Is there a place you would recommend if you are working is just want to buy something to be able to visit 1 or 2 at a time?
@Bluegreen Kirk: It really is all about prioritizing our spending. If we spend our money on what we want most in life, we discover that it is often much more affordable than we originally thought.
As for your question, I’m not quite sure what you were asking….can you clarify?
I would also recommend Oaxaca City, as well as San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico…
Hey Earl, great post. Thanks.
I live in Ecuador. Here is a breakdown of our cost of living. Cost of Living in Ecuador: Haines Family in Cuenca. Hope you don’t mind the link. Might be useful to your readers. This post is from a couple months back but still accurate.
Thanks for a great site!
Hey Bryan – Thank you for sharing that link. I have no doubt that it will be helpful to anyone heading to the region, including myself whenever I decide to head down that way!
Seth, I’ll second taking a look at Playa del Carmen. Before I discovered this site, I thought Playa del Carmen was going to be too expensive for us. Wandering Earl helped us out with a lot of great information. My wife and I stayed in Playa from March 6th till April 6th 2011, at a very nice hotel for only $500. It wasn’t very close to the tourist resorts and restaurants, which was fine for us. We walked on the shady side of the streets in the morning and returned home along the beach early evening. Our dental work was done at a fraction of the cost we’d have paid here in the U.S. And it was fun travelling cheap (5 pesos) in collectivos. Many of the drivers have great taste in music. Lots of smiles and friendly people. The best opportunity I’ve ever had for learning Spanish. So many people are eager to learn English, so I helped them and they helped me with Spanish. Earl, thanks again for all your help. If you are ever travelling around our area, Bellingham Wa, let us know, you have a free place to stay.
Hey Paul – Well, I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to read your comment. I’m honestly happy to hear that you had such a good month down here (although I’m sure the dental work wasn’t too fun) and that everything worked out so well for you!
And I certainly appreciate your offer of a place to stay as well. If you ever make it back down to Playa, the spare bedroom in my apartment is all yours. I actually arrived back in Mexico just a few days after you left!
Like Seth, I’m on disability ($825- just up from $795!), and also live in the Pacific Northwest. Just wanted to say that your generous offer to Seth made me cry! I’d love to hear more about your adventures, and ideas on learning Spanish. I have books, tapes, etc. but have been lazy.
Oops, just realized you were speaking to Earl! My mistake!
Any Caribbean islands that 1000 or less will cover?
I just discovered your site Earl and can’t be more appreciative. I am disabled and make 990/month on Social Security at age 49. I’m hoping that, with your help and advice, I can find a nice warm place to chill out for my waning years and live comfortably and happily. You give me hope and inspiration with your ideas and research. THANK YOU AGAIN!
Hey Seth – Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment! I think you’re in a great position to find a nice warm place to live. With your earnings you definitely have options. If you’re interested in the Caribbean, I would have a look at a place like Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is on the Caribbean Sea. It is much, much cheaper here than on most of the islands and you still have that laid-back, Caribbean atmosphere. The islands tend to be a bit more expensive because everything has to be shipped in from other places, so even basic groceries cost much more than you would pay at home. But in a place like Mexico’s Caribbean coast or even in Costa Rica as well (which has several communities on the Caribbean Sea that are home to a good amount of foreign expats), a much higher standard of living can be had for much less money.
If any other questions come to mind, please feel free to send me an email at hello @ wanderingearl.com and I’d be more than happy to try and offer any advice that I can!
US$1000 per month is definitely do-able in Eastern Europe.
Hey Roy – Agreed. Eastern Europe is another region where a $1000/month is more than sufficient to live. If it didn’t have a longl winter, I’d probably spend more time over there myself!
Yo Earl! Really interesting post. Are there any other countries that you could profile???
I live in Bogota, Colombia on about $450 a month. Basic necessities (food, housing, transportation) 375-450 depending on mostly how lucky you are finding a good place to live.
I was super lucky and found a room in a very nice house of a very nice family near the center of the city all for about $190. I cook my own food so going out to eat would obviously cost quite a bit more. Transportation here is relatively expensive .75-$1 for per ride.
I live quite basically, but you can spend a lot and still be under $750/month.
Hey Joe – Thanks for sharing that info about Bogota. And that’s good to know as I’ve been thinking about making a visit to Colombia at some point in the near future.
There are definitely plenty of other countries where one could live for under $1000. I’ll try to put some more posts together soon with more details but here’s a general list of a few more places where I have spent some considerable time myself without spending much: Cambodia, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka, Syria, Guatemala, Nicaragua. I’m sure there’s more but those are the countries off the top of my head where I know that a good living situation can be head for under $1000!
[…] Apartment For A Budget Price When Traveling Posted on August 11, 2010 by Earl After writing my “Living Abroad for Less than $1000 per Month” post a few weeks ago, I received all sorts of interesting emails from readers. I honestly had a […]
Fascinating. I will have the opportunity to retire in 5 years
, at the age of 55, on a pension of around £14000 a year. Even taking off the ubiquitous UK taxes (which I have to pay)that will still leave me around $1500 dollars a month at todays exchange rates.
My current rent and utility bills are almost $1300 a month. It almost makes you cry to realise how you are living compared to how you could be living.
I doubt it is easy however given the choice between living the rest of my life in the rat race or sitting on a beach reading a good book and seeing the world I know where I would rather be
Hey Tom – I think the most important thing is simply making the realization that you have options. So when the time comes to retire, you’ll be able to make a decision as to where and how you want to live. A little bit of knowledge provides you with a great amount of freedom, something that many people are unfortunately living without! Thanks for the comment!
Interesting article. Do most of these countries require some type of fee to move to them for retirement ? Whether it’s a residency fee or fee for not being a citizen or something. Thank you.
@jakavelli – As for retirement, every country would have their own rules, which might range from having to obtain a retirement visa and prove that you have a certain amount of money in your bank account or in some cases you can simply arrive on a tourist visa and keep on extending it all the time. Once you decide on a country, simply check out their Embassy website and you’ll find all the information you may need.
Ive always wondered if I could do that in the States. Do you which states are the least expensive to live and travel in? Im visiting New Orleans and New York a few times this year, and would love to find affordable accomodation while vacationing.
I don’t think you can do that in either NY or New Orleans. Try Nebraska or Arkansas! 🙂
I worked as an English teacher in Mexico for three years. My monthly expenses for rent, utilities, basic groceries, etc. were about $500 US a month. I would also go out for a cheap lunch every day, go to the local beaches, rent DVDs, watch movies in the local cinema, and have enough money to go out of town on long weekends and holidays. My total expenses were maybe $650 US per month.
It can be done… if you stay away from the areas where tourists and gringos hang out, and live more like a local.
Hey Bruce – Your example is perfect as I think a lot of people think living for under $1000 per month while overseas equates to living in squalor. But clearly that wasn’t your experience either and for $650, you seemed to enjoy quite a good lifestyle. It most certainly can be done as you said!
i have read many of your posts and found it all fascinating and informative. I also have a few questions that have come up- primarily while it may be true that one can live and travel cheaply overseas in many places- you can’t make the incomes needed to support that unless you have a some internet, web design or some business enterprise- or you’re young or supported by parents, have independant means or retirement age. what are your thoughts of how people fund this, including you? i am in my 50s and thinking of how i can live on my social security well on what will surely be just about $1000 and i don’t fancy cat food 🙂 Personally i would like to move sooner and find a way to teach or even do peace corp to really support myself. Life as a real estate agent is just not what it was and my equity in my house has evaporated! I also wonder what life would be life in many of the countries you mention for a single woman, thanks for all the inspiration.
Hey Cindy – Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog!
To be honest, if you are able to have a steady stream of $1000 coming in every month, there are plenty of places you can live a good life without having to worry. Sure, internet business or web design skill certainly would come in handy if you wanted to earn more but you could always teach a little English to provide you with some extra income as well.
However, in many places, that would not be necessary, as for $1000/month, I hardly eat cat food 🙂 For example, in places such as Mexico, I lived in a modern apartment one block from a white sand beach, ate out most meals and took plenty of side trips and managed to spend around $700 per month. In Thailand, you can live in a comfortable apartment in Chiang Mai for around $300 USD per month, with incredible food available for less than a dollar. There’s a reason why thousands upon thousands of foreigners are moving to locations all throughout Central America and Southeast Asia as so little money is needed to live better than most people live in their home countries. Spending $1000 in one month can be difficult in many parts of the world!
As for being a single woman, there really are few places that would be a challenge. Even during my recent trip to the Middle East I met quite a few single foreign women living in places such as Lebanon and Syria, living good lives without any problems at all. And I know it may be difficult to imagine, but places such as Chiang Mai, parts of Mexico, even Costa Rica or Argentina, have so many foreigners living there that you’ll find an instant community almost as soon as you arrive.
I hope this information helps a little but please feel free to send me an email through the Contact Me page on my site if you have any further questions at all. I’d be more than happy to offer as much advice as I can!
As for me, I earn money from working on the internet, mostly through the sales of some eBooks I have written.
Thank you for all the great information. My wife and I are waiting to hear back from a dentist in Playa Del Carmen. Hoping the prices for crowns are similar to Costa Rica ($250). Since crowns are about $1,000 in the U.S. and we need five, we thought maybe we could get a vacation if we left the country for the dental work. Searching online, we have yet to find any place in Playa Del Carmen to rent for the month of March for $500. Should we feel confident that when we bus down from Cancun airport, we will find dozens of signs in windows with prices for around $500 per month? And will they be furnished and available for just one month? Thanks for your help.
Hey Paul – There is actually a great dentist in Cancun that I used for a crown and she charged approximately $200 for everything. It was one of the best dentist experiences that I’ve had anywhere and when I visited a specialist in the US a month later, he told me the work she did was flawless. Her name is Cristina Enciso at Dental Plus Cancun. Here email address is: [email protected]
As for an apartment in Playa del Carmen, you will definitely see signs everywhere for places to rent, but none of them have the prices on them. Most will be furnished but finding something available for just one month is a little more challenging. However, with that said, here are links to two different places I stayed in, both of which cost around $400 – $500 and the owners will rent them for as short term as a month.
Hora Feliz Playa: https://www.horafelizplaya.com/index_esp.htm
Playa Y Sol: https://www.solplaya.ch/ (the website is not so good but click on “Hotel Sol y Playa” and send the owner, Christian, an email
I hope this helps but feel free to send me an email if you have any further questions!
thanks earl for your response. i don’t have the $1000 social security income yet- have a few more years to go for now. at present i am hoping to join the peace corp for the experience and to open up some new avenues for my “working years”. Like others in my profession, real estate, the market changes have hit us hard, I am losing my house so am getting a forced move! However i think when one door closes another opens and this is having me rethink my priorities and envision getting to those places i have always wanted to live. As it turns out,i am not alone and there looks to be plenty of middle agers looking for new opportunities in our “forced” new world. Fortunately all my kids are out of the house and have what they need and doing well so now its my turn to take care of me 🙂 Hoping i can teach english if not peace corp or after. Wish me luck!
I am retired and would like to live someplace where they have a “Town Square” and the locals sing and dance in the evenings, weekends and holidays. Would like good food, safe living quarters, friendly people and most of all – a place where they RESPECT women. I am widowed and NOT looking to get married again. So many countries (I live and was born in the US) consider women second class citizens. I just want to dance through the rest of the years I have left…lol…and be happy.
Do you have any suggestions? All of your comments are most interesting and informative.
Hey Alicia – Sounds like you’re describing a movie 🙂 As for places with a town square full of activity, you’ll find that all throughout Mexico. One of my favorite places is the city of Queretaro, a great city about 3 hours north of Mexico City that matches exactly what you’re looking for. Other places to consider, might be Oaxaca, Mexico / Grenada, Nicaragua / Antigua, Guatemala.
Also, I wouldn’t say that ‘so many countries’ consider women second class citizens at all. I would say that there are a handful of countries that fit into this category but as a result of my 12 years of traveling I’d have to disagree with such a statement. I think you’d be surprised to discover that it’s really not the case!
I hope this information helps but if you have any further questions, please feel free to send me an email.
I think much of Latin America fits that description. Certainly Mexico, where we have visited most often (we’ve been to other Spanish speaking countries as well). My wife has gone to immersion schools (alone) in several areas of Mexico, usually walks to school, gets out on her own, etc. She’s retired (and very attractive, I must say) and says that men are very respectful, to the point of looking down when she passes one on the street. She has had no problem speaking with men in stores, etc, but has never had a problem with harassment of any kind. Not once. A cab driver tried to cheat her once, but that was because she was anglo and not because she was female. (Or maybe he tried to cheat everybody). Mexicans are wonderful people, the zocolos (town squares) are usually lovely and vibrant and life can be good (of course the Mexicans we’ve observed worked very very hard).
Alicia, if you go, and if you don’t speak Spanish, please please please try to learn as much of it as you can. You don’t HAVE to, of course, and can get along without it, but a) it makes life easier, b) it makes it more fun and c) it’s just the right thing to do.
Earl suggested Queretaro and Oaxaca. Very good suggestions. Also Guanajuato. If you need a larger English speaking population, try around Lake Chapala and the town of San Miguel de Allende (be prepared to spend much more, though. The more English you hear, the more it costs). Hope you make the plunge. Good luck.
I second Earl’s recommendation of checking out Grenada, Nicaragua. Definitely worth a visit, at least. Beautiful area, tranquil city and wonderful people.
Dude $1000 a month is a lot of money. I know people who lived on that in London!
Hey Roy – That’s exactly my point. For $1000, you could live incredibly well all over the world. Many people simply believe that you need more money than you spend at home in order to live overseas when it is often the opposite.
Do you have a posting on your expenses in Mexico? I’ve just retired, and we’d like to spend winters in Mexico – a month here, a month there. It would be helpful for us to see a breakdown of your living expenses there. (You may have posted it already, but I just couldn’t find it). Thanks
Hey Bill – I haven’t actually written an expenses post about Mexico for some reason (so thank you for that idea!). However, I can send you an email with some further details so that you’ll have some information to look at. And then if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email and ask away!
Thanks Earl for this great post! I’m 37 years old. I just need to work for 2 more years then I’m able to quit my corporate job, travel overseas frugally. The only problem is that I want to be a mom next year. Have you seen moms carrying a baby around while exploring? I know I want to have it all, being a mom and still not missing out! The world out there is fascinating. I speak a few different languages and love to learn more. Especially, it doesn’t take a lot to make you happy. $1300/month I can do it with the baby. I now live in the U.S., originally from Vietnam. I love to go back and forth SEA, Central America and U.S. My boyfriend is a teacher and I’m sure he can take 3 months off in the summer to live in Asia with us. I look forward to your advices.
Hey Loc – I’m excited to hear of your plan to start traveling in a couple of years! And I can honestly say that I have seen plenty of moms traveling around with their children. Of course, there are a few additional challenges involved but nothing that can’t be overcome. And I can’t even begin to imagine all of the benefits that such travel experiences would provide for the child. Most of the families/children I’ve met while traveling have been beyond fascinating.
You should check out http://www.AlmostFearless.com. The author, Christine, is currently traveling with Drew and Cole, her husband and young baby! I just met them in Thailand and they are real proof that it’s possible.
Seems like you have such a good plan in place 🙂
My wife and I want to relocate our family of 8 to a small village in Mexico. We are not real familiar with the areas and was wondering if you had any places in an agricultural area that we could move to as well as being far away from civilization and the cartel wars. We are looking for solitude with a small village near by. Any advice?
Hey Jason – That’s a tough question and it depends on several factors, such as how connected you want to be to the outside world and what kind of housing you want to live in. A couple of general regions to try would be the area between Valladolid and Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula or even the 300 person village of Chacala, in the state of Nayarit on the west coast. This is a quiet, gorgeous village with only a trickle of foreigners that visit. In fact, anywhere in Nayarit would be ideal. Those would be two regions I would look at if you wanted to get away from it all while still being somewhat close to civilization.
I’m into Month 3, and I just wanted say that this article is the one that spawned me to move to Mexico. I have been building websites and doing photography and making it work. I am getting my immigration that will allow me to work here as an artist for $300. Then into a 0% tax bracket.
Thank man…Chacala says hello.
Earl, I had a typo in the chacalahoy.com
If you could please fix
Hey Taylor! That’s excellent news and I’m thrilled that it’s working out so well for you. Seems like you have a solid plan in place and I must say that the website is a brilliant idea. Info on Chacala is not so easy to find!
I assume you’ve eaten at Chac Mool perhaps?? Nothing like a burrito and glass of wine near the beach in the evenings 🙂
Keep me posted as your stay in Mexico and website progresses. I definitely want to hear more about where it all leads…
Thanks for the update and keep on enjoying that beautiful corner of the world!
Ha!!! Emilia and Arturo of Chac Mool are very good friends of mine. They are very well connected within the secret that is Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico.
It has been fantastic here and I have ben housesitting a place I found on craigslist. My tasks…water the garden and let the cleaning lady in. Awwww yeah, I can do that.
I don’t know if you have been to Guanajuato, but it is an incredible city!!! That will be my next home in my Digital Nomadica…
I want to get a new lightweight and thin laptop for travel and was wondering what laptop you use for all your travels?
Hey Jeff – I’m using the Acer Aspire Timeline 1801T….11.6 inch screen, quite powerful and capable of handling many heavy programs at the same time. It’s been the best laptop I’ve ever owned by far!
I have lived in Thailand for 7 years. I now pay $90.00 USD for my studio and $30.00 for electric and water. Food ranges from $200.00 to $300.00 a month. I know of a home for rent for $40.00 a month. Thailand is great if you want to live cheap, eat well and be in a safe country. John
I’m so intrigued by this, we have been talking about doing this very same thing! You’ve earned yourself a new regular reader 🙂 Great tips, I look forward to reading more!
Hey Tracy – Thank you so much! Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have as I’d love to help out in any way I can. As you can see, the cost of travel really is much less than many people think and as a result, rewarding experiences await those who make that realization!
[…] for over 10 years and has visited 67 countries on 6 different continents. Recommended posts: “Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month” and “Do You Book Accommodation In […]
[…] stories (“Thank You to the Militant Who Stole My Car“) and well-tested advice (“Living Abroad for Less Than $1000 per Month“) in the hopes of offering motivation while demonstrating that a life of travel is much […]
You can live in Turkey for about 500 dollars a month, if you rely on the basics.
PS – Earl – Where is your search box?
I seen that you have traveled to Turkey and want to read your posts about Turkey.
Hey Natalie – Thank you for the info on Turkey. I’m actually heading back to Turkey in a week from now 🙂 Will be traveling around the Middle East for the next few months!
At the moment I don’t have any posts written about my previous visit to Turkey as my visit was well before I began this blog. And apparently my search box is missing! I just upgraded my theme a couple of weeks ago and it seems to have disappeared so thank you for pointing that out…
Are you in Turkey now?
Yeah, I am permanently based in Altinkum and use that as my base to travel from. Great that you are heading back here. No worries about search box. Signed up to your newsletter and following you on twitter so will get to read your posts. Where abouts in Turkey are you headed?
If you have time, would love to do an interview with you before you go? If not, then perhaps we can do one when you return.
Hey Earl, thanks for alot of your info!!! I have my fight booked and the apt rented for OCt. I’m going to Chacala, MX to help build a school and get my Spanish up to par. I also have a gig for Nov in Santa Cruz, MX where I provide filmmaking services to a resort for rent. It is all good…
I’m so glad I found this post. Most of the people here are relatively young, but I’m a 63-year old who was laid off over a year ago and not finding work. Thinking of doing what I always wanted to do and live abroad for a few years. Nice to know I can do it for under $1,000/month since my SS Retirement is just a little over that. I’ve traveled alone to Europe several times as well as to Central America and Israel, so I’m up for the adventure and love meeting new people. Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m thinking either Poland or Greece to start with. I’ve been to Greece twice and love it and it’s a cheaper European option. Any other seniors out there considering this?
Hey Susan – Thanks so much for your comment and I think it’s wonderful that you’re considering to live overseas. There’s no reason for age to be a factor at all and if you want to experience Greece, then there appears to be nothing stopping you at the moment. So I say go for it! You might want to have a read of the following post as well as it might give you some ideas for finding cheaper accommodation in an otherwise more expensive place. “How to Rent an Expensive Apartment for a Budget Price”
good luck susan, hoping i join you and others soon! when i was in my twenties and traveling through europe staying at youth hostels i met an american postal worker in salzburg who was traveling and staying in hostels. it was eye opening- turns out thats still an option esp in off seasons. in season under 26 gets first rights but anytime outside of the high summer season is wide open. i was traveling in the fall and sometimes i was the only person there.
[…] I wished and I still would’ve had difficulty spending $500 per month.” (Brilliant post by Wandering Earl. If you’re on the verge of hitting the road, money can’t really be the unsuperable issue, can […]
$300 for a studio a month??? AMAZING! I’m just starting to get into traveling. I just completed a semester abroad in France and needed to be on a budget. You don’t really mention transportation at all. I don’t know where you are coming from but a flight to Mexico from where I live would be incredibly expensive. What do you recommend for finding cheap flights? I’ve used studentuniverse.com a number of times and I think they are the best but I like to look at all of my options. Thanks for the article!
Hey Rach – Thanks for visiting the site! And it is amazing that one can live down here in this part of Mexico for so cheap.
As for flights, I’ve been flying to Mexico from Florida the past few times and so my flights have been relatively cheap (under $100) on JetBlue. I pretty much fly with them if I’m headed to Mexico or Central America as they are often the cheapest. Other than that I normally check as many different airfare sites as possible to find the best fares, but I also have a ton of frequent flyer miles at this point and so I usually use those for longer flights!
[…] Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month: Speaking of budgets, you don’t have to spend a lot to travel. Earl shares some of the great […]
Thanks so much for this post! I’m planning on a big backpacking trip starting next yea – and I’m definitely looking at ways to live on less than $1000 a month. Thanks again!
[…] get much else done that day! A Post On Someone Else’s Blog We Wish We’d Written – Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 a MonthThis was a really difficult one to choose as we read so many amazing blogs. I’ve chosen this […]
Hi Earl, interesting, especially the Australia one!
I’ve lived for less than a thousand a month, when I was still studying back in Indonesia. I lived in a sharing house with other 20 or so people, and the monthly rent was only about $60. It was about 10 years, ago, so I can expect that price to be doubled or so now. The room was not bad, 3×4 m. The kitchen don’t have permanent roof, and there are only 2 oil stoves to serve more than 20 girls. They exploded once or twice. There were only 3 bathroom so we had to wake up early if we wanted to shower before we left for school.
.-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Pieces of Traveling Advice by Travelers Around the World =-.
Hey Dina – That sounds like one interesting place to live. I can only imagine the challenges involved with living with more than 20 other people in such conditions. But, hey, for $60 per month you can’t complain too much! Hopefully you and Ryan are living more comfortably these days…
It could be even much cheaper than $60 🙂
At one point, Ryan stayed there when he visited me. Ryan got bitten a lot by the bedbugs there – something I didn’t realize before existed on my bed! Ryan’s guess was, my legs was short enough to be tucked in completely under blanket, while his were not. Or… at that time I was just so used to it, I don’t even care when I woke up with bites…
(yeah, it’s more comfortable now 🙂 )
.-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 8 Animal Street Signs from Australia and New Zealand =-.
I am interested in going to Koh Mak. How did you find the place you rented, and what is your rick to find accommodation? Do you stay in a hostel or hotel until you find the right pad?
@pixeltrek – Koh Mak is actually quite a small island with basically two main beaches, so I just showed up, checked out a few places and chose the one I liked best. Ao Kao Beach has about 15 different places for accommodation, ranging from resorts to mid-range bungalows and a handful of budget places, but the beach wasn’t so nice. I stayed on Ao Soun Yai which is an amazing stretch of beach. There are only two places to stay there – the Koh Mak Resort (which isn’t really a resort) that offers a range of bungalow from about $30 – $100 US per night and Suchanaree, a friendly, family-run place that has six simple, but comfortable bungalows for rent. I stayed at Suchanaree. The rate was about $13 USD per night but they gave me a discount for a longer stay. Here’s the link to Suchanaree’s page on Travelfish.org: Suchanaree Bungalows
When I travel to places that are not as isolated as Koh Mak, I do usually stay in a hostel for a few nights until I find a place. It rarely takes more than a few days to find something and normally, talking with the staff at the guesthouse/hostel will give you some good leads for places to rent!
Thanks alot Earl, Big Help. I am planning out my looonnnggg trip for departure in OCT.
Question: How do you support yourself? I am a photographer/filmmaker/web designer and am looking at providing my services to get accomadations etc. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
.-= pixeltrek´s last blog ..Wenatchee BlueGrass Festival 2010 =-.
I love reading posts like this! When I was sitting in my cubicle these types of posts got me excited and motivated for the future. Now, as I prepare for my upcoming journey I get a surge of excitement in anticipation of finding my own way as I travel through the world. There is this stereotype that you need an incredible amount of money for long term travel. Often it’s much cheaper than living in one’s home country and city. These places you listed are just a few of the many that you can live comfortably for under $1000 a month. However, the list is diverse and backed up by real world actual on the ground experience. I wish more people realized how possible this all was!
Hey Mark – I think it’s great that you’ve already moved from the cubicle to the travel preparation stage! That’s a huge step, perhaps the toughest one to take. And it sets another great example for potential travelers that such a change is possible.
I shall look forward to reading about your upcoming journey!
You make an excellent point and it’s actually why I’m considering extending my passport [it expires when the world ends… 😉 ] so I can travel even longer! I’ve been in the Philippines for about 6 months and I can seriously see myself living here for a couple years, if not more! Average monthly earning is only about $200/mo.. which isn’t actually enough to live on which is why in Asia, I assume, the model here is more about family/community than the individualistic American culture. It’s nice though… I REALLY am tired of the American way of life, and consumption. I’m a minimalist at heart and even more so as a traveler! The only thing holding me back from taking this mental plunge of being a (permanent?) expat is my darn traditional notion of wanting to find someone and maybe one day start a family. I’m not married to that idea though… Expats, fellow travelers, are definitely looking attractive lately. Maybe I can find someone as crazy as I am with that seemingly permanent wanderlust 😀
.-= Janet´s last blog ..What Do You Do With a Philosophy Degree =-.
Hey Janet – The good thing about being a nomad is that it doesn’t have to be permanent. You can stop at any time, whenever you feel that your life needs to change directions, so why not go ahead and extend that passport! And I’ve always believed that as long as you stay true to what you want out of life, the right person to share it with will come along at some point, no matter how unconventional your lifestyle.
This is great information. Thank you! India surprises me, as does Australia. I am temporarily living in NSW Australia, and I find it to be quite expensive. My accomodations are free, thankfully (housesit) but the prices of petrol, groceries, etc. is a loooot more than home (the U.S.) I’m glad you got to make it on $1,000 or less a month, though.
Thanks for the comment Sabina! I think Melbourne was cheaper for me because I lived so close to the center of the city and so I didn’t need a car and I didn’t even need to spend money on the city trams as I could walk almost everywhere. If I needed to use public transportation, my expenses would have increased by another $100+ easily per month. And Melbourne also has a HUGE farmer’s market where fruits, vegetables, even breads and cheeses, are incredibly cheap. It’s definitely quite an affordable place to live…
I hope you’re enjoying your time in NSW, even if you’re spending a little more money than normal!
I love seeing how cheaply I can live for months on end (in the USA that’s not always easy), it’s nice to know that when I can finally pack up and move away it will be incredibly easy and inexpensive. Thanks for the many suggestions. I will probably pick one of them for my first adventure in overseas living. Most likely Playa del Carmen.
Hey Osborne – Whenever you start deciding where you might want to go for your trip, let me know if you have any questions, especially if any of the places above interest you. Mexico is definitely a great place to start and there’s no shortage of culturally-interesting, affordable places to live around here!
Nice article! I’m going to pass it along to my more “stationary” friends and maybe get them motivated to start moving about!
I stayed in a rooftop hotel room in McLeod Ganj for a month as well- with those amazing snow-capped views! I miss it! Dinner next door was .50 cents and a cappuccino down the road for another .50 cents a pop. Heaven!! Your article now has my nomadic wheels spinning on the next “home”.
Thanks again and travel safe!
Hey Crystal – That’s the idea! Spread the word around and hopefully some others will realize that such travel isn’t that far-fetched of an idea after all…
I’m curious when were you in McLeod Ganj? I typically return every year when I visit India as I just can’t get enough of the peaceful vibe up there as well as the spinach momos!
Thanks for the commenting and let us know when you decide where your next home will be…
I was in McLeod the summer of 2006 for the month of June. Just across the street from the LHA @ the Tibetan Ashoka guest house. Loved it! And I miss those momos too!
Awesome that you get to head back there often. I haven’t been back, but its on the list!!
.-= crystal street´s last blog ..Photographer =-.
That’s excellent that you were up in McLeod for a month. It’s a hard place to leave! And I know the Tibetan Ashoka, I stayed there once when the Drepung Loseling Guesthouse (where I normally stay) was full. It’s definitely a good place.
All this talk about McLeod is dangerous, I might just drop everything and head straight there!
I live well in the U.S. for $1000 a month. I suppose I could live even better in some of these countries. When I visited Panama last year I wasn’t able to find a cheap apartment although I’m sure they exist. In some locations it is hard to find the places that aren’t aimed at tourists.
.-= Andy Hough´s last blog ..Shower in the Dark =-.
Hey Andy – That’s an excellent point as it does take a little work sometimes to find a more local (and affordable) place to live in many countries. Every time I called an apartment rental agency here in Mexico, they would always try to convince me to check out some $2000/month place in the center of the tourist zone. Finally my friend and I started knocking on doors of apartment buildings, asking for the owner’s or manager’s number and calling them directly. With this method we started finding places that were along the lines of what we were looking for.
And living in the US for $1000 per month is of course very realistic as well, just as you’ve pointed out. A big key, whether you’re living in your home country or overseas, is having your spending priorities in order. Once you know exactly what you want to spend your money on, it’s much easier to keep spending under control.
Thanks for commenting!
Rock on dude!
I’m not living in typical “paradise,” but I’m in Wroclaw, Poland (my birthdplace, a bit of a “homecoming”) right now and I love it. I rented a room (I have a flatmate) for about $125/month USD including all utilities. 🙂
I’m struggling to spend even close $1k/month.
.-= Karol Gajda´s last blog ..How To Learn Absolutely Anything and Everything =-.
Thanks so much for reading Karol!
Your setup at home seems to be an amazing deal and much cheaper than I would have imagined for Poland. Hmmm…perhaps it’s time for me to visit my good friend in Gdansk who’s been asking me to visit for the past few years…
And I definitely don’t think ‘paradise’ always has to be about white sand beaches and palm trees. If we’re loving wherever it is we may be living, then I’d say that’s our paradise until we decide to move on. So I’m happy to see you’re loving your homecoming at the moment!
I have to add that living in the Philippines is just as cheap. You can get a fully furnished place in a high rise condominium for just about $300/month. Food is cheap as well. 🙂
Australia sounds interesting. I have always thought that a developed country would make me bleed at least $1000 a month! Will definitely be there next.
.-= Mela´s last blog ..Almost there =-.
Hey Mela – You did a great job of promoting the Philippines with that comment!! I was actually just talking to a friend today who told me the exact same thing. He lived there for a while in a completely modern apartment for $350/month and said he didn’t even come close to spending $1000 per month. That’s good to know for my future travels!
I think Australia is cheap (for a developed country) if you stay in one place. As soon as one starts to travel around between states and cities, it suddenly becomes expensive because of the bus and flight costs involved to cover such long distances. But one month in Melbourne definitely can be done for less than $1000…
Thank you for sharing your comments!!
1000/month seems reasonable to me. Funny how I was rarely able to achieve that when I actually had a corporate job! Now without a paying job 1000/mo is my goal. Here’s to hoping I can make it work in Tel Aviv while I soak up the culture and political history.
.-= Adam´s last blog ..Out of the Loop when Abroad- Missing Movies =-.
Hey Adam – I’ll be interested to know how it works out in Tel Aviv and if you stick to your goal. I’m sure it’s possible! $1000 is more than doable in many places, especially after spending some time on the road and figuring out what one’s travel priorities are. As soon as I realized what expenses I could easily eliminate without negatively affecting my experiences, my costs dropped and I was able to keep on traveling.
Great post and oh so true. It’s been a few years, but I had a room for $65/month in Guatemala, renting from a local pharamcist with a couple extra rooms. I lived a year there off the sale of a $4000 used car back home. Truth be told, I easily live for under $1000/month in the US too (when I’m here) thus making it easier to put aside that pesky plane ticket money.
.-= Kevin´s last blog ..My Lucky Thai Car Accident- =-.
That’s quite incredible Kevin – $4000 spent in one year! That certainly confirms the idea that you can live overseas for MUCH less than what most of us spend at home. I see rooms advertised for rent everywhere here in Mexico and if you can get an apartment for $300/month, those rooms can’t be much more than $100. If one doesn’t mind living simply, there’s no limit to how cheaply one can live in many countries around the world.
Great post, Earl. The initial obstacle of getting somewhere cheaper is the biggest hurdle of them all – life in many places on earth can be cheaper, tastier (street food, FTW!) and culturally fascinating. SEA draws me back consistently, but there are a slew of other places to live if you just tae the time to see where you feel comfortable. I’ve told people asking for advice that they should make a list of the ‘must haves’ in a new location – is good internet a must? do you need to have your own bigger kitchen to cook? etc – and then start narrowing down destinations with that list.
Safe travels! Was great to meet you (albeit briefly) in NY.
Hey Jodi! Your advice is spot on. Taking some time to find the most suitable location ahead of time is the way to go and like you said, depending on one’s goals, it will probably be easy to eliminate certain places. Otherwise, how does one choose a destination out of the hundreds of places where one can live quite cheaply?? For example, while the Thai island of Koh Mak that I mentioned above is AMAZING, it’s not so good for anyone trying to get some work done on the internet, just as I found out the hard way. (It’s also not a good place for anyone who is bothered by giant spiders sharing their bungalow either.)
Had I followed your list of must-haves advice earlier in my travels I would have avoided quite a few disappointing experiences!
And hopefully we’ll meet again somewhere out there…perhaps in SEA as I am drawn there quite often as well!
I’m going to do my best to live in Kigali, Rwanda for under $1000. But this city is a lot more expensive than I thought and full of tempting Western restaurants and cafes. Rent is $400 in a shared house and internet is about another $60 (expensive, but it’s a modem so I can take it with me everywhere). Besides those expenses my only costs will be food, socialising and transportation Moto taxis are under $1 per trip and I’m hoping to cook for myself a lot. There are cheap restaurants and bars and Western ones so I’m going to have to hunt out the bargain spots. I think I can do it… I’ll let you know in a month!
Thanks Kirsty for sharing those details about Kigali! I don’t have too much experience with Africa myself so I was definitely wondering if $1000 would be reasonable over there as well. Of course Rwanda is just one small part but it seems like you may be able to pull it off…especially if you cook for yourself often. Avoiding restaurants is an excellent way to save money in most places, although in India or Thailand it always seems cheaper to eat out.
Is the shared house you’ll be staying in quite decent? Please do let us know in a month how it goes!!
I am really eager now to settle in and reap some of the benefits of living in a single place once I make it back to Asia! Although in many of the places you mentioned you can also travel for under a $1000, Australia was actually pricey for the backpacker versus living somewhere! 🙂 You’ve also intrigued me with how cheap Thailand is…I’m considering bouncing every couple months between Thai and Bali!
I guess it can’t get much better than alternating between Thailand and Bali for a while! And I agree about Australia, backpacking around the country costs a lot more than staying put in one place. Once you eliminate those long bus or plane rides that are needed to get from one place to another, expenses drop drastically.
Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures in Bali and your well-deserved extended day over there!
Indonesia is also very good value for money.
Hey Mike – Indonesia is indeed an excellent value. The month that I once spent in Sumatra barely cost me anything and it was one of the most rewarding travel experiences I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget the lakeside bungalow I rented (at Lake Maninjau) for about $3/night. It was basically a small house only 5 meters from the water and views of the surrounding volcano crater from my bed.
It’s surprising how people don’t realize just how cheaply you can live in other parts of the world. And if you’re strapped for cash, you can live much cheaper than $1000/month. You can just rent out a room or get roommates, or heck even live in a dorm for a bit. While not the most luxury of lifestyles, it’s a cheap way to see the world!
.-= Laura´s last blog ..Likoma Island- A Little African Paradise =-.
Hey Laura! That’s the thing, $1000/month is actually much more than one would need in many parts of the world. There have been quite a few comments here showing how $500/month (and less) is possible as well. And there are always ways to cut down travel expenses even further like you mentioned. Having roommates is perhaps the best way as it offers a cheaper place to live and an instant social life wrapped into one! And if you’re sharing a place with local people, it’s even better of course…
Thanks for your comments Laura!
[…] Living Abroad For Less Than $1000 Per Month: I know that I link to Earl’s blog a lot, but I can’t help it. He is a super-sweet guy […]
True to all of that Earl! For the last two years of travelling in Africa, South America, and Asia, I have managed to spend around the same amount per month as rent for my room in University in the States (about $500). I also don’t try to be a super stingy saver either, but just avoid unnecessary things like impulse buys.
.-= Migration Mark´s last blog ..Carnivorous Meat Platter in Montevideo =-.
Hey Mark – Even with all of the eating you do you manage to keep your expenses under $500?? I guess you have your spending priorities all in order!
Impulse buys are a major budget killer. These days I never buy anything the first time I see something I’m interested in and usually by the next morning I’ve forgotten what had caught my attention. So I’d much rather save that money!
I knew that Asia and Mexico were pretty cheap but I was surprised at the prices in Australia! My hurdles to traveling are not money so much as the desire not to leave my pets for too long, and some health issues that haven’t resolved as quickly as I’d like.
.-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..6 Life Lessons from a Murder-Suicide =-.
Hey Jennifer – Many people think Australia would cost a lot more, but Melbourne is actually quite an affordable place. You can really do so much for so little over there, especially with the variety of free events that seem to take place every week throughout the city.
And I can see how pets would get in the way of long-term travel but I’m sure you’ll get out there and do some traveling when the time is right! And I do hope that your health issues are resolved soon so that you’ll have one less hurdle to climb…
I am currently living in Nuevo Vallarta, about 30 minutes away from Sayulita! Surfing is my main hobby here, did you master it eventually?
Hey Federico – I’m definitely familiar with Nuevo Vallarta as I passed by it on my bi-weekly trips from Sayulita to Puerto Vallarta for a night on the Malecon. As for surfing, I wouldn’t exactly say that I mastered it, but I could definitely ride a few waves each time I went out! I think Sayulita is one of the best places to learn surfing – perfect waves, warm water, friendly (and helpful) local surfers and not too crowded. I had an absolute blast over there!
Great post, very informative & encouraging for those of us who are considering a life change like this. Thanks for sharing & providing so many great details for us!
Hey Ali – Thank you for commenting and I’m happy that you found the post useful! I’m also glad to hear you’re considering such a life change and if you ever have any specific questions, feel free to send me an email…
Ahhh, this post is a keeper to re-read before the next move. This village at the Mexican Pacific sounds like my thing.
Of course, you are completely right, Earl. An acquaintance of mine recently rented a flat in Germany for 3000 euros a months. Just the flat. And he’s doing a boring (although well-paying) manager job. 3000 EUROS. I couldn’t believe it, and that’s in a small, kinda boring city.
As for me, I experimented a little with “How low can you go”, and lived for 200 dollars a month in Colombia and in Venezuela. I couldn’t get any lower, probably, and am now spending probably some 300-400 dollars a month. If you’d want more luxury, you’d still be fine with 700-800 bucks.
.-= Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist´s last blog ..Balance =-.
$200 per month?? That’s impressive Fabian…and the fact that $700-$800 is enough for a comfortable life down there is exactly what I’m talking about. I know that not everyone wants to travel, but for those who do wish they could spend more time overseas, you’ve shown another example of how very realistic that goal is for many people.
As for the 3000 Euros…I can’t even comprehend that really. That’s almost enough to live well for a year in many of these interesting parts of the world that are being mentioned in the comments here!
I’m a huge fan of this type of post. They get me really excited to work for the day, so I can get one step closer to being able to live abroad! Thanks for putting some great work into this. Now I’m off to get this business up to $1,000+ monthly revenue 🙂
.-= Nate´s last blog ..damm- that’s a fine name =-.
Hey Nate – Every step counts and I can’t wait to hear of the day when you take that step and move overseas! And keep in mind that there’s plenty of place where you can live for less than $1000. It might pay to start in one of those because once you make the move, you’ll find yourself even more motivated to work on your business so that you don’t have to return home!
Another post that everyone should read! Keep spreading the word.
.-= Brian´s last blog ..The Kroschel Film Wildlife Center =-.
Thanks so much Brian! I appreciate you taking the time to help pass this post around!
Earl, I’m spending way over $1k for rent alone, in SD 😉 The picture of your bungalow: absolutely stunning! And to think for that cheap? Holy S*&%
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Are You Creating Weak Backlinks =-.
Hey Moon!! How’s it going out there in SD??? Honestly, I fell in love with that bungalow on Koh Mak and didn’t want to leave at all. I would probably still be there today if there was a better internet connection on the island as I wasn’t able to get any work done during the time I spent there. But that was one of the most magical places I have ever stayed!
I lived in Rio de Janeiro (Ipanema Beach near Leblon). Half a block from the one of the best beaches in the world, in arguably the best location in the city for $550/mo renting a room in a large flat.
It was an eye opener, I stayed there for a year. The best time of my life.
.-= maverick´s last blog ..Why Computer Programmers Can’t Pickup Women =-.
Hey Maverick – Thanks for sharing another example of a cheap (but amazing) overseas living experience! Renting a room in a shared apartment or house is definitely a great way to save money, especially in a typically more expensive location such as near a beach or in the center of a major city. And as a bonus, it makes it quite easy to meet people, helping one to adjust to new surroundings much more quickly.
On a side note, I’m always interesting in living near beautiful beaches so thank you for giving me another option to consider!!
Great post Earl – this is really useful information to share with people. I’m really glad to hear that Mexico is so cheap as we’d like to spend some time there, but had heard Mexico was one of the more expensive places in Latin America to travel. Isn’t Playa de Carmen quite touristy too?
We have found that we spend far less when we rent an apartment for a month or so rather than travelling around. We came across a modern 2 bedroom house for rent in a small town in Paraguay for under $100, so it is definitely possible to live really cheaply in some places. We are paying more like $800 a month in Argentina but our apartments have been really nice, and we don’t need much for food.
.-= Erin´s last blog ..The Benefits of Selling Everything You Own =-.
I think Mexico can be as expensive as one wants it to be. You can easily find a luxury apartment for $2000/month and in the case of Playa del Carmen, you can also find a $300/month apartment on the same block! But I’ve yet to pay over $500/month down here and these have been some of the nicest apartments I’ve lived in.
It is a bit touristy in Playa, however, I do live about ten blocks away from the main tourist zone. So although I may pass a handful of tourists in the street every day, I’m quite far removed from the tourist shops, restaurants and Starbucks, and pretty much have a stretch of white sand beach to myself on any given day. I’m also forced to speak Spanish where I live as very few people speak English in this part of town. I think that in the end it’s always possible to have a completely local experience in Mexico even in an area that sees a lot of foreign visitors as being so close to the US, almost every region of this country has now become used to tourists.
as in 100 dollars per MONTH!?!?!? :O
Yes… $1000/month is many countries is absolute luxury. If that’s all you need to live each month, it’s not much to earn either. So it makes you wonder what the point of earning $100,000/year is. There is just no need to put yourself under undue pressure.
.-= Adam @ Sit Down Disco´s last blog ..Bali Travel- Kuta- Legian & Seminyak =-.
Hey Adam – You’re right, it changes the entire formula! Instead of trying to earn enough money to afford expensive items (that we don’t really need), it is far easier and far more rewarding to live in a place that offers a comfortable lifestyle for an amount of money that we can afford. It also helps each person figure out what their true priorities are and what ‘luxuries’ are most important to them. I don’t want to spend my money on an expensive watch or car, but I’d gladly pay a little more for proximity to healthy local food and a white sand beach!
What? As an avid reader of Travel and Leisure, I know for a fact that living overseas must cost at least $100/night and include an infinity pool and room service 🙂
All sarcasm aside, it’s good to see the McLeod Ganj numbers as that’s where we will probably land ourselves after Thailand. Good to know we’re going from one cheap spot to another!
@audrey yes, do go to Thailand! It’s where all the cool kids are!
.-= Kyle´s last blog ..A Conscience Act of Serendipity =-.
Hey Kyle – You won’t be disappointed with McLeod Ganj! Instead of renting a hotel room, you can also rent a small home in the area right on the side of the mountain, with unreal views, for not much more. That would probably be a bit more comfortable for two people. That area is perhaps one of the cheapest parts of the world that I have ever come across. There are even free daily classes on Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan language…
And instead of an infinity pool and room service, there is a community pool up there that is fed from a waterfall and the wild monkeys will enter your house and clean up any left over food or trash that is lying around!
Awesome! I’m wondering, what kind of internet access did you have at these places?
Hey Doug – As internet is important to me because of my work, I’ve generally chosen places that offer excellent internet access. Calcutta is really the only place where I didn’t have any internet, except at a handful of slow internet cafes. Even McLeod Ganj in India has an internet service that you can purchase by the month. Here in Mexico, most apartments come with free wi-fi and there are dozens of cafes in every major town that offer free wi-fi as well. I generally found the same to be true in Thailand as well (just not on the remote island I visited!).
Wow! What an amazing post, Earl! I am so excited to see you sharing this information with the world. I am really curious to know how you fund your travels. Does your income come from blogging or another source? (I hope this isn’t too personal!)
I will definitely be sharing this post with my readers tomorrow.
.-= Dena´s last blog ..I Am a Motivational Speaker =-.
Hey Dena – Thank you so much for including this post in your weekly Carousel! I always appreciate being listed alongside those excellent posts you find!
At the moment, I fund my travels through eBook sales. My main eBook, which I wrote with a friend, is an insider’s guide to cruising that is based upon my 4.5 years of working on board cruise ships. And from the time I stopped working on board ships (about two years ago), that’s kept me going while I’ve been working on a handful of new internet projects to be released within the next few months. So hopefully those will work out as well!
Wow fantastic. This gets me so excited because after about a year of building a business Its finally working so I can have this lifestyle.
I was wondering though, does anyone have any tips on how to find apartments? Craigslist seems over priced sometimes, is it best to just book a hostel for a week on and then walk around looking?
Hey Andy – I’ve always found for most developed countries you’ll be able to find a website to help you find apartments. As I mentioned in the post, Gumtree.com works well for Australia, as well as a handful of other countries around the world as well. But at the same time, it is always wise to check out a place in person before committing to paying any rent.
In the dozen or so places where I’ve rented an apartment overseas, it never took me more than about three days to find something, just by walking around, calling phone numbers on “For Rent” signs and just asking everyone I meet if they know of any apartments available.
Wow, I loved this post. I’ve never really traveled to any of these places you mention but would love to try it out sometime.
I’ve only traveled around europe and even then did not choose the backpacker way but rather stay in cheapish hotels and just enjoy it. It ends up costing me a few thousand per month traveling this way, which is indeed expensive.
Backpacking is definitly on my list soon:)
.-= Diggy´s last blog ..The 7 Links Challenge =-.
Hey Diggy – Backpacking is the way to go if you’re interested in traveling on the cheap. And if you decide to stay in one place for an extended period of time and rent a house/apartment, you’ll end up living more comfortably than when you stay in cheapish hotels in the end! You could turn what you spend in one month into a six month backpacking adventure without having to live ultra-cheaply. Of course, Europe would be a little more expensive but there’s plenty of other regions of the world to explore….
I hope you do get a chance to do some backpacking at some point and I really appreciate your comments here!
There are some parts of the world (Southeast Asia comes to mind) where Dan and I have been able to live together for about $1000 per month! It really is incredible how you can eat like a king for a few dollars in many parts of the world. And, decent accommodation can be a bargain too (especially when you consider wifi).
Right now we’re trying to find a sublet in Central Europe to do some work for a few months. It’s pricier than we’d like. We’re wondering if it might be more cost effective to just pay the price of the ticket to Thailand and go from there. And, then you’ve got the benefit of Thai food every day…
.-= Audrey´s last blog ..Panorama of the Week- Guatemala’s Most Beautiful Cemetery =-.
Hey Audrey – I’ve always said that once the thought of going to Thailand enters one’s mind, no matter how many times you’ve been before, there’s no turning back! I imagine Central Europe would be a difficult place to keep a $1000/month budget, unless you chose a somewhat small, out of the way town in the countryside (which I did once outside of Brno in the Czech Republic). But if you weigh that option against the availability of cheap and tasty Thai food, I could see why Thailand seems like a good option…
Now I’m curious to see where you two end up!
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