After traveling to over 10 countries on a nearly non-existent budget you might assume I would be a bit of an expert on scoping out affordable places to live. That assumption is 100% correct!
Today I wanted to share my experience living in one of the cheapest countries in the world. In fact, I found the cost of living to be so affordable yet enjoyable that I’ve been here for over 2 years!
If you are looking to try your hand at geographic arbitrage, this is the article for you. It is well known that Asia has some of the most affordable countries to live in. That is why I will share information on the cheapest, Pakistan, and my current location, Cambodia.
The Cheapest Country in the World: Pakistan
When I was doing a bit of research for this article, I was very surprised to learn that Pakistan is officially the cheapest country in the world! I was surprised because my fiance is actually from Pakistan so I could get some first-hand knowledge on this topic.
This is why I can confirm that the cost of living in Pakistan is even cheaper than that of other countries I’ve visited in Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam). You can easily live on less than $1,000 USD in Pakistan and still be enjoying an active social life.
Similarly, you can enjoy a wonderful lifestyle in Cambodia for under $1,200 USD a month. The rest of this post will share some information on why I think Cambodia is the best place for expats on a budget!
Cheapest Country to Live in for Expats: Cambodia
One of the reasons why I think Cambodia is the best option for expats is the ease with which you can do business here. There are many systems already in place that make it very easy for foreigners to obtain visas and ultimately earn a livable wage.
Another important thing to consider is that Cambodia is rapidly developing. While things are still not as developed as neighboring countries, you can still enjoy most of the western amenities you are familiar with at a steep discount.
If you take a look at my post on cheap activities in Phnom Penh, Cambodia , you will notice that even hanging out at rooftop pools every weekend will only cost you about $10 in food purchases! For expats, it is not enough to just consider which country is the cheapest but also the kind of lifestyle you will be able to have.
Breaking down the cheapest country for expats’ cost of living
To help you understand where this $1,200 number comes from, I am sharing a sample budget! This is not too far off from how much I spend every month and is meant to be a somewhat modest budget.
- Housing- $300- $400
- Food- $200
- Aircon- $50-$200
- Eating out- $200
- Fun activites- $200
Total: $950- $1,200
As you can see, it is very possible to have a comfortable life here for about $1,200. If you were to increase that number, you could easily be living a more luxurious style while still spending less than $2,000.
Most of these expenses can go up or down according to your personal preferences. For example, aircon costs can be different depending on your heat tolerance. We also have a cooler, rainy season, and a drier, hot season which can impact how much you spend throughout the year.
For my personal budget, I find that $1,500 a month provides just the right amount of “luxury” and “budget” activities for me to choose from. This keeps things more fun and still affordable! If you are looking to make a big move, I highly recommend checking out the various Asian countries for a unique experience!
Challenges of Being an Expat: Moving Money
Of course, if I write a post on how amazing expat life is… I should also share the other side of the coin. Literally! It’s unfortunately true that after three years of travel, banking is still a massive headache.
In this year alone, I’ve had wire transfers take over a month to go through and have spent over $100 in fees just making the most simple transfers. I’ve struggled to open my business bank account from abroad and even had issues transferring between my own banks in the US!
I encourage you to think carefully about how you will move your money when you are traveling. Luckily, there are many helpful resources online. Additionally, banks are also starting to recognize how important expats are for their business.
Here are a few bank accounts that can help you move money about if you are an expat:
As with anything, where there is a will… there is a way! So don’t let these issues hold you back from living your life. Just take the time to plan before skipping off to your new life!
Have you ever thought about moving to a cheaper country? Which ones would be at the top of your list?