10 Best Countries In Asia To Live For Cheap - Digital Nomads, Expats, & Retirees (Cost Breakdown)
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GAFFL
25th May | 13 min read

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    Are you a digital nomad, expat, or retiree looking for a new and affordable place to live? Well it doesn't get better than Asia. Asia has a wide range of beautiful countries that are all unique in their own right and cheap to live in. The only problem is, there are so many great destinations to choose from that you may have a hard time choosing the right one. 

    That’s why we’re here. In this post, we'll go over the 10 Best Countries in Asia to Live For Cheap, as well as a cost breakdown of your monthly expenses, so you can choose the best destination for you.

    Also, if you're moving or traveling to Asia soon and you're looking for other travelers or locals in Asia to connect with during your stay. Be sure to check out GAFFL. On GAFFL you can connect with travelers and locals from over 190 countries, chat, plan trips, meet up and explore Asia together.


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    Indonesia


    There's something for everyone in Indonesia, from breathtaking volcanoes to lush forests to pristine beaches and stunning temples. If you're an expat, digital nomad, or retiree in search of a new place to call home, there are few places better than this stunning island nation.

    Overall, Indonesia is a really affordable country to live in, however depending on which island you decide to settle in, your cost of living will vary. In Bali & Jakarta, for example, expenses tend to be higher. However, if you choose to live on an island like Java, you'll find it to be more affordable.

    Best Places To Live

    If you decide to stay in Bali there are some great places to settle in.

    South West Bali

    Canggu is a digital nomad hotspot where the surf is always good. And if you enjoy going out and meeting new people Kuta is recognized as one of the more crowded places on the island and it's also party central.

    Central Bali

    If you’re looking for a more traditional Balinese experience, while also enjoying some of your western comforts, Ubud is where you’ll want to stay. Denpasar is Bali’s business district and it's close to several important offices that digital nomads may need to visit, especially to start a business in the country.

    East Bali

    In Sanur the expat demographic skews a bit older with more retirees. Things are a lot quieter on the east side of Bali, however, there are still plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars for you to frequent. 

    South Bali

    Jimbaran and Uluwatu are both located in southern Bali in the Bukit Peninsula, one of the best places on the island for experienced surfers.

    Some great places for expats to live outside of Bali include Sudirman & Kemang in Jakarta, and Yogyakarta in Java

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 25,000 Rp = $1.75

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent In Indonesia: 6,500,000 Rp = $453

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in an Indonesian city center): 4,000,000 Rp = $279

    • The Average Monthly Rent (outside of a city center): 2,500,000 Rp = $175

    If you live in an Indonesian city center, you'll spend about $732 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Thailand


    Thailand is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations for Expats with its gorgeous beaches, picturesque natural landscapes, mouth-watering cuisines, historical attractions, vibrant culture, and great affordability. Known as “The Land of Smiles,” Thailand has a lot of options and opportunities for everyone.

    Best Places To Live

    Chiang Mai is popular among expats, digital nomads, and retirees for its lower cost of living compared to Bangkok. If you’re looking for a calm and serene environment to reside in with some of the country’s best weather, then Chiang Mai is your best option. 

    Digital Nomads, expats, and retirees love Koh Samui for its laid-back beach lifestyle, affordable and quality healthcare, and the natural attractions it has to offer. 

    Bangkok, the country’s capital, is one of the most popular choices for digital nomads and expats for being modern and affordable. Known for its beautiful skyscrapers, luxurious hotels, and top-notch public transport options, foreigners can live here conveniently while experiencing the fun culture at an affordable cost compared to most Western countries. 

    With vibrant youth culture, cool cafes, bars, night markets, cabaret shows, and historic attractions, Phuket is a great place to live as a young expat or digital nomad.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 60.00 ฿ = $1.80

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent In Thailand: 18,200 ฿ = $544

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Thailand city center): 14,200 ฿ = $424

    • The Average Monthly Rent (outside a city center): 7,200 ฿ = $215

    If you live in a Thai city center, you'll spend about $968 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Vietnam


    If you want to live somewhere with delicious food, exotic landscapes, friendly locals, and a very low cost of living, Vietnam is your dream destination.

    Vietnam is renowned for its cuisine, the food here is unmatched for its quality and cost. You can get a delicious bowl of pho here for around $2 or an authentic Banh Mi for even less.

    The country is easy to explore as well, with cheap transportation so you can explore the entire country without any real hassle. Some of the best places to visit while you’re here are Halong Bay, My Son, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc Island.

    Best Places To Live

    The two largest cities in Vietnam, Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, are among the best places for expats to settle. Both are excellent cities to live in, each with its own distinct charm and history. Beachgoers will enjoy living in Da Nang, which is located directly on the Han River and the South China Sea.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 50,000 ₫ = $2.20

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent in Vietnam: 10,400,000 ₫ = $455

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Vietnamese city center): 9,400,000 ₫ = $411

    • The Average Monthly Rent (outside a city center): 6,000,000 ₫ = $263

    If you live in a Vietnamese city center, you'll spend about $866 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Sri Lanka


    This tiny island off India's southern coast packs a powerful punch. Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful places to live in Asia, thanks to its rich biodiversity and stunning natural wonders. This island nation has something for everyone, whether you enjoy beach bumming, exploring national parks, chasing wildlife, or learning about history. The best part, it's a very affordable place to live. 

    Best Places To Live

    Most expats in Sri Lanka live in the capital city Colombo. Colombo is a growing city with many  of the modern amenities which are perfect for digital nomads and expats. But if you want to live by the beach, two popular coastal areas to settle in are Galle and Unawatuna.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 400 Rs = $1.35

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent in Sri Lanka: 93,000 Rs = $315

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Colombo): 100,000 Rs = $338

    • The Average Monthly Rent (outside of Colombo): 35,000 Rs = $118

    If you live in Colombo’s city center, you'll spend about $653 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    India


    From the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, India is a vast and diverse country with plenty to see and do.  There are several metropolitan areas in India for you to live in, as well as many natural and historical wonders to visit, such as the iconic Taj Mahal, the revered Ganges River, and the pristine beaches of Goa. 

    Best Places To Live

    Bangalore, which is home to approximately 8% of all expats in the country, is one of the most affordable places to live in India. Despite being one of India's largest metropolitan cities, Bangalore has a reasonable cost of living. Apartments with all amenities are available for an affordable price.

    Kolkata, also known as the City of Joy, is a very affordable city with great infrastructure for digital nomads and expats. The cost of living in Kolkata is significantly lower than in Mumbai.

    Puducherry is spiritual and serene, and it is located right on the Bay of Bengal. It's an excellent place to live for retirees. This region has a rich history and culture, and it is also one of the more affordable areas of India to visit, with little traffic and pollution.

    As a popular tourist destination, Goa has a number of luxurious lodging options, but they are more expensive than in some of the other locations on this list.

    If you're looking for employment, Mumbai is the best place to look. Although it is more expensive than the previous locations on this list, there are numerous job opportunities in India's largest city.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 200.00 ₹ = $2.65

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent in India: 25,000 ₹ = $332

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in an Indian city center): 16,000 ₹ = $212

    • Monthly Rent (outside a city center): 10,000 ₹ = $134

    On average, if you live in a city center, other than Mumbai, you'll spend about $544 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    The Philippines


    The Philippines is a string of more than 7,000 islands, and it’s the perfect place to live if you enjoy beautiful white sandy beaches, island hopping, and delicious fruits. This gorgeous island nation is home to some of the world's friendliest people who will make you feel right at home. 

    Best Places To Live

    For expats and digital nomads alike, Cebu City and Manila are exciting places to live. Both cities are very busy, with a ton of things to do. There are numerous job opportunities available here, as well as a thriving nightlife.

    Davao City is a much quieter and more relaxed place than Manila and Cebu, making it an excellent retirement destination.

    Boracay Island is a fun place to live for those who enjoy partying and living on the beach.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 180 ₱ = $3.50

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent In The Philippines: 26,500 ₱ = $517

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a city center): 20,000 ₱ = $390

    • Monthly Rent (outside the city center): 10,700 ₱ = $209

    If you live in a city center, you'll spend about $907 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Cambodia


    Cambodia is a country with vibrant cities, stunning beach destinations, and delicious cuisine. There's a lot to see and do in Cambodia, whether it's visiting the world's largest temple, Angkor Wat, or learning about the country's rich and turbulent history. Cambodia is also an affordable place to live.

    Best Places To Live

    Phnom Penh is a wonderful city with numerous temples, markets, and the Royal Palace to explore, as well as a variety of modern amenities being built on a daily basis.

    Because of its proximity to the Angkor temples, Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination, and as a result, it has a wide range of modern infrastructure, hotels, and restaurants.

    Battambang is a great place for retirees looking for a cheap, beautiful, and quiet place to live when compared to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

    Cost Breakdown

    The US dollar is the main currency in Cambodia but the Cambodian Riel is becoming more widely used. Prices in hotels, shops and restaurants are usually quoted in US dollars and Riel.

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: $2.80

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent In Cambodia: $620

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Cambodian city center): $440

    • Monthly Rent (outside a city center): $250

    If you live in a city center, you'll spend about $1060 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Malaysia


    As one of Asia's most developed countries, Malaysia is quickly becoming one of the top tourist destinations on the continent. With beautiful beaches, sprawling national parks, and modern cities with all the amenities you could ever need, Malaysia is a wonderful place to live in and travel around. 

    Best Places To Live

    Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's beautiful and colorful capital. It's a fantastic place to live because there's so much culture and natural beauty all around.

    George Town, the capital of the island of Penang, is another great place to stay in Malaysia because of the availability of affordable homes, beautiful beaches, and overall quality of life. This is a multicultural city with all of the modern amenities that expats and digital nomads require.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 10 RM = $2.37

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent in Malaysia: 2,000 RM = $475

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Malaysian city center): 1,500 RM = $356

    • The Average Monthly Rent (outside the city center): 1,000 RM = $237

    If you live in a city center, you'll spend about $831 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    China


    China is one of the world's largest and most diverse countries. People travel from all over the globe to catch a glimpse of China's ancient wonders like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, as well as modern attractions like The Bund in Shanghai and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

    Best Places To Visit Live

    When you're deciding to move to China, keep in mind that some places are more expensive than others. Shanghai,, and Macau, for example, are among the more expensive destinations in China.

    Cities such as Guangzhou, Qingdao, Tianjin, and Hangzhou are all vibrant places to live that offer both a high quality of life and a good value, and they all have their own distinct charm.

    Guangzhou has one of the larger expat communities in the Chinese mainland, and many are drawn to its culture and cuisine.

    Qingdao is one of China's most affordable cities, with some European cultural influences.

    Tianjin doesn't have the largest expat community, but it is a good place to visit if you want to learn about traditional Chinese culture.

    Hangzhou is a bit more expensive than the other cities on this list, but it is well worth it, especially if you enjoy greenery and want to live near the UNESCO World Heritage site, West Lake.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 30 ¥ = $4.71

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living Without Rent In China: 3,800 ¥ = $597

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Chinese city center): 5,250 ¥ = $825

    • Monthly Rent (outside a city center): 3,100 ¥ = $487

    If you live in a city center, you'll spend about $1,422 USD per month on rent and other living expenses..

    Bangladesh


    While Bangladesh may not be on your typical list of top Asian destinations, it should not be overlooked. Bangladesh will undoubtedly surprise you with some fantastic off-the-beaten-path destinations as well as popular tourist spots like the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, and Cox's Bazar, the world's longest stretch of unbroken sandy beach.

    Best Places To Live

    Dhaka and Chittagong are Bangladesh's two largest cities, and they are home to the majority of expats. Both provide all of the modern conveniences that digital nomads and expats require.

    Cost Breakdown

    • Average Cost Of A Meal: 150 ৳ = $1.75

    • The Average Monthly Cost Of Living in Bangladesh Without Rent: 33,000 ৳ = $382

    • The Average Monthly Rent (in a Bangladeshi city center): 9,200 ৳ = $107

    • Monthly Rent (outside of a city center): 6,300 ৳ = $73

    If you live in a city center, you'll spend about $489 USD per month on rent and other living expenses.

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
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