How much does it really cost to live abroad? That’s a question that seems easy on its face, then starts to sound incredibly complicated. Currency conversions, travel expenses, and “westerner” tax all seem to stand in the way of just saying ‘f*ck it’ and moving to a new country or city and living a bigger life for a spell. Still, it’s not as expensive as you probably think it is — especially if you chose your new home wisely.
I’ve been living all over the world since 2003. I’ve lived in the UK, Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Sometimes it’s easier than you expect. Sometimes it’s harder. It’s always rewarding.
When I was living in Jakarta with my wife, we both had full time jobs which paid fairly well. We basically lived off of my salary for our expenses and lived that baller lifestyle by taking taxis where ever we wanted to go, eating at Jakarta’s best restaurants on the weekends, and ordering whole bottles of tequila when we went out to party. At the same time, we were saving my wife’s entire salary for travel. We saved enough to spend nine straight months on the road traveling overland from Singapore to Istanbul after we quit our jobs.
You can do this too. It is possible. So I’ve put together a very short list of places where it costs very little to live and play.
A couple of caveats: These costs are calculated for a single person, living a budget/shoestring life. This is bare minimum, not baller. The point here is that if you’re making $3000 a month working remotely anyway, then why not move to Jakarta and literally save 90 percent of your salary? You can pay off student loan debt faster AND save for an awesome round the world trip at the same time. Sure, you can spend a lot more in the top of the range, but if you’re frugal this is where you can start.
Note: all prices converted from local currency to USD and represent approximate monthly costs.
Berlin is the city where a beer at a bar can cost as little as €1.50 from the draft. That’s $1.58. At the same time, you can easily spend 15 bucks for a craft cocktail a few doors down — but that’s beside the point. Overall, Berlin is crazy inexpensive with a very high quality of life. There’s something for everyone from music to food to art to architecture.
TOTAL $922 per month.