6 Places to Live for Super-cheap

This blog is all about traveling better for less and getting the most out of your money by living abroad. So I’m happy to run the following guest post is from John Linnemeier, author of How an Average Man Lived an Adventurous Life.

Take it away John!

I’ve traveled to over 120 countries, and along the way, I have discovered some affordable paradises. In my book How an Average Man Lived an Adventurous Life, I included a chapter called, “Six paradises where you can retire comfortably for $500/month.” If you need a cook, a gardener, and a nanny it will cost $1000/month. I’ll tell you where these paradises are, and if you’re really serious about escaping from wherever you are, email me at himalayansp [at] hotmail.com, and I’ll help you any way I can.

After you look at this list, buy the appropriate Lonely Planet Guide, spend a day or two doing Google searches, and you’ll have what you need to know. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for an exploratory visit. Or maybe just keep it in the back of your mind so that if everything goes to hell in your life sometime in the future, you don’t need to give up hope. These places can be your “get-out-of-jail free” card.

I define a paradise as somewhere that’s safe, beautiful, has a pleasant climate, good food, adequate health care, a community of foreigners to keep you company, and is, of course, cheap.

Here’s the list:

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

It’s the only one of my paradises that you can drive to from the U.S. or Canada. For some reason, it’s comforting to know that you can load a truck up with whatever stuff you want to take with you, point it south, and in three or four days, be in one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen.

Lake Atitlan (pictured at the top) is twenty miles across, one thousand feet deep, and crystal clear. It’s surrounded by volcanoes, lush, green vegetation, and is elevated enough in the highlands so the temperature is always spring-like. Do a Google Image search and see what I mean; it’s gorgeous.

You’ll first arrive at the town of Panajachel, often referred to as “Gringotenango.” It’s a jakey-looking place, but very inexpensive. It has some rather pleasant little places to stay, which are tucked off of the main streets. The food is fantastic, of great variety, and real cheap. Any business you need to transact can be done here easily. This is as far as most people get, and if you want to watch CNN, smoke reefer all day, and live for peanuts, this may be your spot.

On the other hand, there’s a boat that circles the lake every day. It stops off for a few minutes at all the little villages surrounding the peripheral of the lake. Each village has its own personality from party-central to new age hippy deluxe, replete with solar warmed hot tubs. If you want to be the only gringo in town, there are tiny villages for that too. Somewhere along that continuum, you’ll find one village that will fit you to a T.

Unlike the next five spots, it can actually be a little bit dangerous in Guatemala if you don’t do the right things and go to the right places at the right times. I wouldn’t drive it at night, but a lot of people do. In general, talk with the local expats and follow their advice about what is safe and what isn’t.

Any of the many valleys that go up into the Himalayas

I’m most acquainted with the area just north of Almora, but all of the others would work as well. I stay in a little place that is a forty minute walk back from the road. The view stretched in front of you includes some of the tallest mountains in the world. Absolutely stupendous. The place I’m talking about is set on a series of terraces planted in every kind of organic fruit and vegetable. There are a dozen little cottages, mostly out of sight of each other, sprinkled around the area. You get a nice little place with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom/living room. You’ll also get a veranda that looks out on one of the greatest views on God’s earth. Cottages rented for $40/month the last time I was there but may be closer to $60/month now.

If you’d like, they’ll deliver milk every day and freshly baked bread every two days directly to your door. You can do your own cooking or, if you arrange ahead of time, there’s a French lady who’ll cook for practically nothing. The owner of the place walks his daughter into town every day, and if you’d like, he’ll bring back a copy of The Times of India for you.

The nearest internet connection is an hour’s walk away, and it is tenuous at best. Frankly, I call this a plus. You can buy groceries in this little town, hang out at the restaurant and socialize with the wider community. I’m not going to give you the name of this place because I don’t want it overrun with people. If you’re really determined though and use the clues in what I’ve written here, you’ll surely find it, and maybe I’ll run into you.

Goa, India

This has been a hippy paradise since the ’60s. It’s a lot more crowded now but also offers infinitely more diversions, including every kind of food, yoga, Tai-chi, and meditation class imaginable. If you want to learn about singing bowl treatment or any of another billion activities, then you’ve come to the right place.

Find the beach that suits you. They all have different vibes, from five-star international la-de-da, to bare-bones little cement boxes that don’t cost much of anything. If you get there before the season starts (late October to early November), you can rent some extraordinary houses if you’re willing to stay for the whole season.

The weather is near perfect until late January when it starts to warm up a little too much. It’s the dry season, so you most likely won’t see a cloud while you’re there. A few hardcore expats stay straight through the monsoon season. Just about everything is closed down by then, but a few people like it that way because everything is green, and it’s mango season.

I’ve seen an awful lot of ruins in my life, but the ruins of Hampi are my favorite. See them by the full moon, and you’ll never forget them. Hampi is a one day train ride through beautiful jungle with waterfalls, monkeys, and gorgeous birds. Incidentally, both Hampi and Goa have full moon rave parties that set the standard for world class craziness.

Pokhara Nepal living

Pokhara, Nepal

Nepal is not dangerous, no matter what the press says or what you may think. It’s where I started the Jomsom trail, one of the great experiences of my life. Pokhara is picture perfect, a tiny little town surrounding a lovely lake with Machupuchari in the background. Again, do a Google Image search and be prepared to be wowed. The Nepalese are wonderful cooks and innkeepers, and they will treat you right. Everything is cheap as can be.

Lake Toba, Indonesia

Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world. In the midst of it is Lake Toba, and in the center of this is a lovely little tropical island. Accommodations are more than comfortable and the architecture is very unique. People play chess a lot, and the loser normally has to give the winner a back rub. The food is good, and everything is super cheap. The locals have a fascinating culture. Just a few generations back, they were cannibals. If they’re really sore at someone, they’ll say “I pick the flesh of your ancestors from between my teeth.” These days though, the place is safe as can be.

Bali

Even though westerners have been coming here since the thirties, the Balinese are still gracious to strangers. There’s a tradition of art, music, puppetry, and dance that is truly unique. Everyone seems to be an artist of some kind, and people care deeply about beauty. You’ll be amazed by how gorgeous your little rented house or hotel room is. Prices are ultra cheap, so as long as you stay away from the international style hotels, you can get by for very little.

The town of Ubud in the highlands is a nice choice. The food is out of this world and very inexpensive. If the main street in town is too busy for you, just do an about face, pace off 300 yards through the rice patties, and you’ll be surrounded by tranquility. Some people have moved on from Bali to the next island, Lombak. Parts are as beautiful as Bali and less crowded, but it doesn’t have the lovely Balinese culture. Stay out of Kuta Beach, which is awful anyway, and you’ll be safer than you would be living in a little town in Nebraska.

Story by John Linnemeier. Pick his book up at Amazon.

Photos are Flickr Creative Commons shots, courtesy of the photographers. Click on the individual photos for their portfolios.

 

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Comments
  1. Hon

    Really good post, although I am suprised Nepal is on the list, are there really cheap deals available there? The place does sound amazing though from what you describe, I would love to go.

    • tim

      Nepal vies with Indonesia and India as the cheapest destination in the world that’s worth spending months in. Your money goes a loooonnngg way there.

  2. lester

    wow!!! beautiful collection…..i have visited Goa,India…its really cheap and beautiful…thnx for sharing

  3. Jonathan

    good article. However, Sumatra is the 6th or 7th biggest island in the world (depending if you count australia), not the 2nd.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_islands_by_area

    • tim

      Jonathan, you’re right. The proofreader (me) skimmed right by that and missed it. Thanks for the catch—fixed now.

  4. Leland

    Great post and amazing photos! I have always wanted to go to Bali, maybe now I should move there too if the cost of living is so cheap.

  5. Brianna

    It is an Interesting post. I is always nice to travel without spending large amount of money. It is always a challenge for me to not spend all my pocket money when I go to travel. At first it was so hard seeing all the variety of temptations but as time goes by I become stronger to fight temptation.

    • andy

      where has been your favorite place to travel so far?

      • tim

        It’s the question I get the most and the hardest one to answer. The next place I’m going is the best answer because “favorite” is a fluid thing. I like Mexico enough to buy a house there—twice. But I also love Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia…

        • Jay

          So if I wanted to retire and be able to live comfortably with $10000 US dollars I could move to one of these places?

          • Tyler

            Good post, however, I have traveled the planet to in search of the perfect places to retire and cheaply with good visa rules and living conditions. One place that seems to be missing that I would highly recommend is Thailand. It has long term retirement visa’s for anyone over the age of 50, the requirements are easy to work around. They have a deposit requirement in a Thai bank of approx. 800,000. Baht. At 35 to 1 exchange rate its about $24,000. dollars, however,
            you don’t actually need the money! many of the public visa companies will front the money for you by just asking them. You open the account and they deposit the money for you to meet the Thai Gov. requirement. They get your permanent visa for you and then remove the funds back out of your account.
            I have done it and so have many of my friends. The fee for the visa is 10,000 Baht or about $350.00 .. This visa allows you to stay for one year with no restrictions and renew again and again. They want foriegners living in Thailand retired and spending they’re money there!. Thailand is very safe,
            much more so than many latin countries, cheap major medical and dental,
            groceries, rentals, beautiful beaches, street vendor food, clothing, the list goes on and on and all cheap! The women are very sweet to! You can rent a state of the art security apartment in a nice high rise building on side soi’s (which are streets) in all areas for as little as $250 per month full time.
            Go in person to Bangkok and take a visa run to Cambodia to stay longer than 30 days. These visa runs are on a very nice air conditioned large tour bus with movies and takes about 2 hours each way, cost is 8,000 Baht or $260
            to get an extra 60 days extension. This is the best route for those under the age of 50 for long stay because you can do it over and over to stay longer.
            Go in person and you will find nothing but hundreds of cheap rentals on all side soi’s thruout all cities in Thailand. Do not use craigslist as a guide, to many scams. When arriving you can pick an inexpensive hotel at the airport que desks and get started from there. the taxi’s are super cheap, new models and friendly, all areas speak english! Phuket in the south of Thailand can be pricey in the resort area, go to Phuket town to get great deals. Beaches everywhere are superb with exception of the main beach in Pattaya.
            Pattaya has a huge bar area on the strip, if thats your thing you will love it,
            if not, just head a few blocks off the main beach and it gets quiet and way cheaper. I hope this helps, enjoy your travels, if you need more info. just drop a line….

        • estephan haddad

          Do u know any place where someone can go live in the jungle for the rest of his life . Survivor style. Or if there a group of young people living in the jungle away from the citie and technologie ? Thanks

  6. Ana

    Hi, this is Ana from Spain, I just discovered your blog and I love it. I’m trying to sell my house and all my stuff and start a new life. This summer I would go somewhere in Asia and see where I would like to live.

    Can you tell us about de internet conexion in those places to stay in touch with the family?

    • tim

      Unless you’re going to a rural area in the middle of nowhere, you’ll have as good or better internet connections in much of Asia as you would have at home.

    • John William Johnson, LMT, MFCC

      hi Ana- just saw your post..i’m getting ready to sell my house, and move somewhere cheap..how’s it going for you?

  7. Solomon Neuhardt

    The lowest cost for a hotel in Atitlan was 22 a night. Does that sound correct? Thanks.

    • Matt Hope

      22 what, Quetzales? I stayed in a place in San Pedro that was up in the town for less than $2 USD per night. It was 15 Quetzales. You could probably live in some parts of this lake for less than $300 a month if you really wanted to.

      • Allison Gauthier

        The cheapest I got in Atitlan was around Q25/night in Pana. I found a wonderful place in San Pedro with a full balcony view of the lake, hammocks outside of every room and each room had it’s own bathroom for Q40/night and that was on the “more expensive” floor

  8. Allison Gauthier

    Also wanted to add – in Atitlan, a lot of the towns around the lake are going to be a lot less dangerous. Panajachel is the more touristy and the most dangerous in Atitlan (aside from Solala), but as long as you use common sense and try your best not to stick out as a gringo, you’ll be fine.

  9. Jamie

    Thank you so much for all this wonderful information. Bali sounds amazing. I’ve been interested in going there for a while now. But I was curious, are there ways for a girl in her early 20’s to find work over there – or would I need to save up sufficient funds to live off of for 6 months to a year? Also – how do I go about finding the cheap long-term homes?? Everything I found online are vacation homes, and I am much more interested in living with and around the natives. Do I just look when I arrive? Or are there ways to set that up from abroad? Thank you for any more information you could give me. This is all so new to me and I’m not quite sure where to start….

    • tim

      Jamie,

      Yes, no matter where you want to go in the world, your best bet is to get a hotel/guesthouse room for a while and then start asking and looking locally for a long-term rental. What you find online is for vacationers, not people who want to live there for the long haul. Can’t tell you much about the working scene, but it will probably have to be under the table unless you get sponsorship for English teaching or something on a contracted basis. And tourists don’t get much of a visa in Indonesia, which makes it tougher if you don’t establish residency.

  10. Arsh

    My family consists of myself, my spouse who is disabled and my daughter who is 4. We want to try moving to another country at some point to enjoy life in another culture. We live on $1000/month in the US and since we’ve read you can live on that much or less in many such countries, we are considering trying it some time. Honestly we’ve been considering it for years.

    But your post has given me some new destinations to consider. Of the places in this post (other than the ones you already specified) which ones have a stable internet connection? I go to art school online so I have to keep an internet connection no matter where I go. That’s the only thing that’s a big challenge in looking for information on a place to move abroad because most people don’t mention if internet is an option in these places.

    I’ve seen several places where you can live very cheaply, but if there’s no internet available, I can’t do it.
    So, of these places, which ones have internet options? Especially, if you know, which ones have decent internet options? (Because really slow dial-up won’t load some pages on my school site. Satellite is do-able but undesirable.)

    Thanks a lot!

    • tim

      Arsh, apart from rural destinations that are way behind the times, internet access is not a problem. You have to pay as much as you would at home sometimes, but it’s readily available. I’d worry more about the infrastructure for your spouse—there’s no ADA in developing countries. Even where I live in Mexico, it is extremely difficult for someone in a wheelchair: few ramps and steps everywhere—even to enter the hospital. But if you can live on $1K a month in the USA, it is clear you are a resourceful person who can live well for less than that in all kinds of places. Check out this more recent post for some resources:
      http://travel.booklocker.com/2011/04/07/i-want-to-move-abroad-where-do-i-start/

      • alex

        HI TIM. about brazil, any info, live, food, people, safe ect…thx.

        • tim

          Brazil is now the most expensive country south of the U.S. By a wide margin. Many items are now more expensive than in New York City in dollar terms. Unless the currency comes down from its lofty perch, no bargains there.

  11. RLCampbell

    I am 45, my husband is 50. His company has gone down with American ship. We would Love to start over. I am a teacher, he owns a steel fab. company. Are we too old? Where are the best places for us?

  12. cate

    Tim: I would really like to relocate and live in Thailand. I was thinking somewhere in or around Chiang Mai. Your thoughts? It would be nice to be able to acquire a place to live for $300.00 to $500.00 if possible. Any information you can enlighten me with would be most helpful. I have enjoyed your articles!

    • Icy

      I live in Pattaya,Thailand in a fully furnished one room efficiency apartment with air-con, private bath with hot water and European fixtures, balcony and a small back porch. The rent is 2,500 baht a month (about $82) plus electricity and water (which can cost another $40 or so if the air-con is run daily). I have two motorbike parking spaces and a gated entrance that gets locked at night. It is safe, quaint and conveniently located in the north end of town. Chiang Mai is generally a bit cheaper than Pattaya, with all the universities there, I’m sure some very inexpensive accomodations are available. I would imagine your price-range would afford you a whole house to rent or a very nice apartment !

      • alex

        can you send me more info about pattaya? any info is welcome!! thx.is for me and wife.

  13. Vic

    Hi Tim
    I am thinking of living overseas with very little savings.
    I think I would like to live some where a bit remote as cheap as posable.
    I currently live in Tasmania, Australia, I am 45yrs and am looking for a lifestyle change, any advice you are able to give would be great.
    Many Thanks
    Vic

    • Peter

      Panama

      • rebecca

        Hello,you mentioned Panama,husbands frined moved tere but he said you need to marry a local practically if you want to relocate,any thing in Jamaico. and such places? Thank you. P.s also how would i locate places you could work under the table for a living? thank you

        • Tim Leffel

          Totally wrong on Panama. There are tens of thousands of expats living there legally. It’s one of the easiest countries in the world to get residency if you meet easy income requirements.

  14. Josh

    Vey interesting post – Bali sounds amazing -at the moment i live in tenerife and its getting more and more expensive.

    Josh.

  15. Clove

    I have to live outside of the USA for 4 months June, July, August, Sept. I have narrowed my choices to Guatemala and Indonesia. Any advice on which place to choose re safety, affordable living conditions, the ability to travel and explore beautiful place, beautiful people…and the spoken English language?
    Thanks…

    • tim

      If language is a deciding factor, go with Indonesia. You’ll need Spanish in most of Guatemala. Living expenses are pretty similar, though a big flight difference obviously depending on where you’re coming from.

  16. Kim

    I am a 49 year old female who is disabled. (not wheelchair bound). I would love to live in Belize. I have done research and most of the sights said I could live there for $1000US very comfortably. Do you believe this? Also how safe is the country? I was looking at San Pedro. Please give me some advise.

    Kim

    • tim

      Foreigners far outnumber locals in that part of Belize and it’s the most expensive area in the country because of that. It also has higher crime than the rest of the country just because there are so many more people worth robbing. Go rent a house for a month or two first to try it out—no matter where you go. I think it would be tough to live on Ambergris on that kind of budget, but you’ll know after you try it for a while.

    • Stephanie Martinez

      Went on a cruise to Belize. I and all the other passengers couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It is like Mexico only more humid. My advice: Don’t Go!!

      • tim

        Stephanie, if you want to see the worst part of every country—the ugly port cities—going on a cruise is a good way to accomplish that. If you want to see why others gladly go there on vacation, another method is required.

    • Andy Freedman

      I’d like to email with someone who ended up living in Belize after having lived in the Bay Area. I’m just kicking around the idea. I’m very youthful at 57 and have enough cash but I want to know what daily living life is like. Please email me direct or call.

      Thank you,

      androcls@aol.com

      831 703 4633

  17. Shaan

    Came across your site accidentally and absolutely loved it. Need some advice though…I’ll be goin to Indonesia with my gf in September, going to a place called Ubud I believe it’s in Bali… Could you recommend some good hotels for backpackers, and since we are at it some nice spots to visit in Indonesia. .
    Thnks

    • tim

      There are a zillion of them at a good price there. Check a good guidebook or Travelfish.org.

  18. Mike

    This is a great read I hope to do this kind of travel one day and also hope that ohn would befriend my wife and I from time to time and show us around for a free meal or a few drinks. We will see, I hope, in the near future.

    Thanks much John for taking time from what I read, a facinating life, your travels inspire me.

  19. Nicole kircher

    I wonder where it would be beautiful,graet weather,cheap and a place to get a good education for my kids,is this too much to ask..coming froim the unites states

  20. Roger

    hi my name is Roger and I went thru a nasty divorce and I have 35000 dollars and I would like to go to the cheapest place possible where I can start over

  21. gillian

    hi there. is it not hard to get visas for most of these places?

    thanks!

    • tim

      No Gillian, pretty easy usually unless you have a criminal record. More info here if you need it though: http://travel.booklocker.com/2011/04/05/all-your-travel-visa-info-in-one-place/

      • Rumpole

        It’s pretty east to get TOURIST or short stay visas, but it gets much more complicated in many Asian countries if you want to stay for more than a couple of months or so. Indonesia (Bali) is particularly difficult in this respect. Thailand is also not a great deal better, unless you are over 50 and can meet the financial requirements for a tourist visa. Cambodia is currently the easiest country in Asia in which to remain long term. Pretty much anywhere else, and you will be making frequent and comparatively expensive visa and border runs to neighbouring countries; or existing in the somewhat grey area of workarounds like ‘education’ visas, perpetually wondering when the authorities are going to close that particular loophole too.

        Employment opportunities in SE Asia are also extremely limited for foreigners unless you have a particularly marketable skill which is very much in demand, or are sent by a company from your home country on an ‘expat package’. If you have to depend on local economies for your livelihood, working hours are long, salaries are low and the ‘rat race’ you left behind is suddenly transported to your ‘paradise’ in the sun. The less developed countries, and therefore the cheapest in terms of living costs, are also the most difficult for a foreigner to scrape any kind of living.

        30 years as an expat and just trying to add a little balance here.

        • Rumpole

          Sorry, that should read “unless you are over 50 and can meet the financial requirements for a RETIREMENT visa.

          • tim

            You’re right Rumpole and it’s the main reason I tell people Latin America is 10X easier than Asia. But of course some people like Asian food, or women, or islands, or whatever, so that’s where they want to be. Only Malaysia has made it easy for retirees and not for those without much cash.

  22. Michelle

    Hi Tim, My big question is – How do you travel extensively without any plans of where you’re going to go next, how long you might stay and how you might travel between countries?

    • tim

      Well, I don’t do that as much as I used to when I was childless, but once you get out there, it’s a whole lot easier than most homebodies imagine. Most backpackers do this every week. It’s not hard to figure out where to sleep, how to catch a bus to the next town, or what you need to do to enter a neighboring country. You can look it up online, look at a guidebook, or just ask other travelers. If you’re not on a quick vacation where you have to plan everything out to get back to work on time, there’s no reason to rush.

  23. Theresa

    I have an 11 y/o child and was wondering where we could live comfortably (internet and TV) for $500 a mo. I am in a domestic situation and do not have many options. I am a RN, but have not worked in years any ideas?

    • tim

      Theresa,

      You mean besides what’s highlighted here? It’s a short list, unfortunately. In this hemisphere, you’ll need to speak some Spanish to get it down that low. But lots of options in cheap Central American countries.

  24. traespike

    I really want to mvoe out of the US with my family. It is my husband, 3 small children, and I. I have a secondary education and median work experience. What do you think would be a great fit for us. I want my family to be immersed and open to culture, but still comfortable. Like the place u mentioned above with a maid or something.

  25. Edward

    Tim..You’re a God-send. I just turned 68..widowed..live on SS, and will listen to any advice you have. I’ve read all the other web-sites that come on like evangelicals after your money. You seem to tell it like it is, and I appreciate that.

  26. Kendell Sands

    I would love to live in Bali. I’m 40 income is from SSI and some savings not much but I think I could make it work. I need cheap rent on or near the water? Grass hut,tree house bungalow etc….T.V. and internet is not very important. What is the very best internet site or book”I like to read”on Indonesia.

    • tim

      The editor of Travelfish.org lives there, so that’s a good start. BootsnAll also has a decent Bali blog and there’s another called “Bali Blog” And if you nose around you’ll find e-books available on living there.

  27. Sevananda Jose Padilla

    Very interesting blog! thank you for your insight. I’m thinking of retiring to Kerala. Varkala calls my attention. I have an SSI income of about $1000.00/month. Not looking for luxurious living, just a furnished apartment or a house close to the beach, food and human interaction… and internet access. Maybe I can teach English and Spanish to occupy my time and make a little bit of extra rupees. I also would like to do some volunteer work in the area. Can you give me some suggestions or ideas? By the way, I was in Kerala 3 years ago and fell in love with it. Did not visit Varkala, yet for some reason, calls my attention.

    Tim, I have been to Bali several times… and YES! it is stunningly beautiful…. But I hate to go anywhere where I’m eyed as an ATM or a money waterfall. Viet Nam gave me that awful feeling… but more intensely than Bali. While in India, I travelled through Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Not even once did I see anyone trying to get into and empty my pockets or personal property! I’m not naive at all. I know that this sort of stuff happens everywhere, but if there is anything that was stolen from me in India, that very thing was my heart. Thailand is wonderful too!
    Thanks Tim!
    Sevananda

    • tim

      Sevananda,

      I always tell people northern India has incredible sites, but is a constant hassle. The south is far more laid-back and you can actually let your guard down a little. I haven’t been there for quite a while though, so best to hit the message boards at Lonely Planet and IndiaMike to get a better sense of living expenses on a monthly basis and whether you can do any teaching. Bali depends a lot on where you are on the island because it’s the Australians’ version of Cancun in parts of it. Others, like the Yucatan of Mexico, are far more mellow.

  28. Randy

    I work for a global company. I can work from anywhere as long as I have internet consistently. Would like to travel and work at the same time. Looking for a good place to travel/live/save. What are your thoughts? Thanks for the info so far.

  29. tim

    Great site and very enjoyable to read. We are a family of five from San Francisco and have living here in Thailand for a year now. We homeschool our 3 kids on the road and have been tent camping in the US for the previous 2 years. We are about to go to Malaysia and have our hopes on Bali then Nepal + India. Am curious if you took the trip to Bali overland from Malaysia and if you enountered any problems, if it all. Thanks

    • tim

      Most people get to Bali via Java if they’re going overland. You can go by ferry to Sumatra from Malaysia (highly recommended to spend time in Sumatra) and then make your way across Java if you don’t want to fly. Then keep island-hopping eastward if you want.

  30. ronnie rhodes

    Yo. enjoying your info. Im a new orleans native, born in 58 i caught the tail end ef the hippie days. A local musician, raised on black sabbath, led zepplin, skynard, deep purple ect.., i am looking for a place to get away and bounce around for about a 6 mos to work on a writing collaberation for a big artist upcoming record agreement. lm looking for not only inexpensive and laid back but someplace where i can get high and not have to worry about the narcos busting me.(laxed drug laws) Any ideas or suggestions. without incriminating yourself, any info would be appreciated. I can be reached by phone at 504.222.3584. Thanks, Ronnie Rhodes

    • tim

      Ronnie,

      Any place that attracts long-term backpackers over years most likely fits the bill. So Malaysia is out, Laos and Cambodia are fine. (Thailand it depends on where you are.) Most places where weed grows like a, well, weed, the cops have better things to do than try the futile task of controlling its movement. So all through the Himalaya region of India and Nepal fits the bill. If you want to know about specific places, try the LP Thorn Tree board.

  31. Jackie

    Hello There
    Well I really want to go and live with my older brother. And we’ve decided to find a place and live there for untill God knows when. And he was thinking Canada. But I was wondering what you think? Though I want somewhere like Sweden. And because ma bro’s going to collage and I need to get my education, we need somwhere that has a high education standard. And I love somewhere cultural, adventurous, fun, a place that you can really enjoy. But it has to be affordable as well, safety would be appreciated, and some ease of finding a job would be nice. Could you possibly make a list of the best places you would recommend for us?

    • tim

      Jackie – Sure, get in touch and I’ll provide my hourly consulting rates. See the Contact link to the right.

  32. Jackie

    ^^ Forgot to mention that we wanted somwhere OUTSIDE of the States. Thank You (:

  33. Allan Littlejohn

    I’m very interested in the Himalayas, as I would just like to leave for a year.I’m sort
    of semi disabled as I can use a walker/wheelchair for long distances.I’m looking at
    bringing 20 K with me,what is the best way to use this money and keep it safe?
    Where is the best spot that can be of use to me?

    • tim

      Allan, this is best posed on an accessible travel blog or message board, plus it would be useful to 1) go there first to check it out and 2) get some good books/e-books on living there specifically or moving abroad in general. I do know that you won’t find many ramps or wide, even sidewalks.

  34. Gary boettcher

    Hey, great posts . Im looking for six month winter get aways out of cold Canada in the winter . I was thinking Thailand . With a budget of about $10,000 from Alberta . Any links or resources you could suggest ?
    I have no criminal record and am looking for something where i would feel at home.
    Im not sure about how to go about longer stays , I’ve never done anything quite like this before .Thx

    • andy

      I knew a guy who used to rent the winter in Tailand, try looking at Thaiapartment.com Might Give you an idea on pricing. :)

    • andy

      Oh almost forgot you might want to check out the philippiens, lots of cool place to go Kayaking, make sure where ever you go check for local medical advice eg malaria pills.

  35. Nick

    Hi,

    Hopefully you still check this Tim…. I am in need of getting out of the UK for about a 40 days or so and need somewhere to go (Himalayas would be good)…… BUT, i also need to be contactable via internet. I pretty much need a consistently good wifi/internet connection to my laptop.

    I was going to go to Japan but i think it would cost me 1000’s by the look of it and thats not something im willing to do at the moment.

    Could you please email me regarding this. Id love to hear your thoughts.

    Many thanks.
    Nick

    • tim

      Nick, Sorry – I’m not a travel agent and this isn’t the Lonely Planet message board. Between the cost of Nepal and the cost of Japan is….the whole world. (P.S. – you shouldn’t leave your e-mail address on a public blog. Unless you love getting sp*m.) I’ve erased it.

      • JEANNIE

        TIM- hey there. I am looking for a place that my husband and i can go to get really affordable but good dental work. my husband needs post and wants them all through his mouth and living in the u.s. its 10,ooo a post or more!! any ideas? we would greatly appreciate your advice. and we love to read what all you post and the places you have been. TRULY A LUCKY MAN!!!!

  36. Hanna

    Great list!
    I guess you described the places that offer not only cheap living but also a great experience (nature, culture… and so force).

    I know that you are talking about only 6 places, but you could have also added
    Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and some other Eastern Europe countries to that list. You can live there for $400-$1000 a month!

  37. Richard

    Hi Tim, Great read here from you . I am intrested In Lake Atitlan, Guatemala as a retirement resident. Do you see that as one of the safest, most inexpensive area’s of Latin America to live in? And what are the dangers you speak of? One more thing….why is it that people of that area of the globe (including Guatemala) seem to want to escape from there to the USA.

    • tim

      Atitlan is safer than other parts of Guatemala because it’s not a drug-running route. The country in general though has a bad crime rate—worse than Mexico’s by far. People in poor countries always want to escape to richer ones because there are more opportunities to make a decent living. We go in the other direction because we’ve either already made enough money or can keep doing what we’re doing now virtually. We don’t have to work for the very low local wages they’re getting.

  38. Kelly

    Hi, myself and my family live in the uk and both myself and husband are thinking of packing up and moving abroad. Where would people recommend? I have young children (ages 4, 9, and 13), we are looking for someplace cheap to live, my husband is a instructor in the army (mainly driving related) and planning on leaving soon so he would also need to look for another job in the new country. Ohhh can I add it must be somewhere warm lol I can not cope with the cold winters anymore. :-)

  39. Ian Wallace

    Hi Tim! I just had a quick question in regards to the post about the Almora region of India, it says that cottages can be rented for around 40-60 dollars/month. I wasn’t able to find any other sources online verifying that price range I was hoping you could confirm that that is the correct information and not a typo.

    Thanks!!

    -Ian

  40. bbrandon

    tim,
    i have been reading about some of the places you mentioned. i am fresh out of college, no debt and wanting to escape. i am liking the sounds of goa India and bali Indonesia. i have alot of money saved…but are there better places for me that you recommend ? ideally tropical or warmer weather . Thanks in advanced

    • tim

      Just get out there and explore Brandon. When you find a place you like, kick back there for a while and your costs will go down quickly as you settle in. If it’s not right, move on. There’s too much of a “you’ll know it when you find it” element to choosing a place to live—even for a few months—for an outsider to advise you on it. For me it was Guanajuato, Mexico, a place almost nobody I talk to (even seasoned travelers) has heard of. Who could have advised me to go there?

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