15 Countries Where You Can Live for $500 Per Month

We all know that you can’t live on $500 a month in the USA and most countries in the world, but there are still some options where you can make ends meet on a shoestring budget.

Today, we’re looking at 15 countries from all over the world where you can live or retire for $500 per month. I’m also sharing all the details about each country, to know exactly what to expect.

It’s getting more and more difficult nowadays to live for $500 per month, even in the cheapest countries listed here. However, if you are extremely frugal and you don’t need a lot of luxury in your life, it can still be done. But it won’t be easy.

With these in mind, let’s check out a complete list of countries where you can still make ends meet on $500 per month (for one person).

Countries in Asia where you can live on $500 per month

Asia – especially the South East Asia region – is your best choice when it comes to living a good life on a tight budget.

While countries in the region are more expensive to live in following the inflation of the past couple of years and general cost of living increase, it’s still possible to live on $500 a month if you are thrifty and stay away from touristy areas.

1. Bangladesh

houses in Bangladesh where you can live on a budget
Renting a house like this one is as low as $150 per month in Bangladesh!

The first country where you can live for $500 per month – and live comfortably, too – is Bangladesh.

The value for money in this nation is excellent, and travel is generally safe here, although expect constant power failures, sometimes lasting several hours.

However, in Bangladesh you can rent a small apartment or even a village house for as low as $150 per month.

Food is extremely cheap here, but you will have to stick to the local cuisine, which is very popular to Indian food. In other words – delicious and generally healthy.

Eating out from street vendors is also possible, with a meal costing as low as $1. So overall, your food budget can easily be met at $100 per month.

This means that you can live here for about $500 per month if you rent an apartment and cook at home or eat street food: both of these will only eat up about half your budget.

This still leaves you with a hefty $250 for entertainment, travel and even a bit of luxury.

People in Bangladesh are very friendly and will definitely help you with anything that you might need during your stay here.

Also, English is widely spoken here so you won’t have much trouble getting around.

While Bangladesh has its own share of problems when it comes to infrastructure and even some safety issues here and there, you will feel safe and happy here, especially if you use common sense and avoid traditionally dangerous areas.

2. Laos

living in laos under 500 per month

This country offers a good value for money and some amazing natural spots to visit, such as the capital city of Vientiane or Phou Khoun. (You can check out my recommended things to do in Laos here.)

You can rent a studio in Laos for $120 per month, then use the rest for a mix of food (which is really cheap here), entertainment and various other expenses you have each month.

Like in most South Eastern Asian Countries, street food in Laos is really cheap. You will most likely not last a lot on street food only (at least not if you want to follow a healthy diet), but sprinkling some home cooking every now and then will make things better.

People in Laos are very friendly towards foreigners and will do their best to make you feel welcome in their country.

3. Nepal

living in nepal on 500 a month

When it comes to food, Nepal is among the least expensive nations in Asia. Like in all the other locations mentioned above, you can easily live on $500 per month if you blend street food with some home cooking.

However, there are other fantastic chances for biking and hiking throughout Nepal, making travel there highly recommended (if you are into these things, that is).

There are also a lot of accessible options in terms of accommodation. If you don’t mind living on Kathmandu’s outskirts (which might not be particularly safe), or in the smaller towns here, you can rend a nice place for around $150 per month.

If you want to be more centrally located, renting a decent place will go as high as $250 per month, but this still leaves you with enough money to make ends meet.

Nepal is generally safe, with the locals being friendly towards foreigners and speaking at least decent English.

4. Cambodia

beautiful Cambodia

Another country in Asia where you can live comfortably on $500 per month is Cambodia.

It offers a wonderful combination of affordable costs, great cuisine and stunning nature spots to visit.

You should probably check out Siem Reap for some amazing temples such as Angkor Wat, but know that you should generally stay a bit away from the popular destinations in order to keep costs low.

Even though English is not widely spoken in Cambodia, you can still have a great time here. Just make sure to use Google Translate if needed and you’ll be able to get around just fine.

A studio can be rented in Cambodia for as low as $180 per month, but for longer term deals you can strike even better prices with your landlord.

In Cambodia you will also be able to find cheap street food and affordable cafes where you can enjoy your meal on a budget.

I still remember eating a delicious burger here for just $1.5! Not the healthiest meal, but it does show you that food is really cheap in Cambodia – and even more so if you stick to what locals eat.

Combine this with home cooking, and you can keep the two main expenses (accommodation and food) at around $350 – $400 per month, leaving you with some extra money for other things.

5. Sri Lanka

sri lanka on a budget

Sri Lanka is another great destination that you can retire to or live in if you have a limited budget.

It’s also one of the most beautiful countries in Asia, in my opinion, with many green hills and amazing nature spots to enjoy along the way. And there are also plenty of beaches, since this is an island nation.

You can live long-term in a hotel room here for around $300 per month (including cleaning, new linen, and even breakfast) or rent a studio or small house outside the popular areas for around $150 per month.

People in Sri Lanka are also very friendly and will always help you out whenever needed – this is one of the main reasons why so many digital nomads visit this country.

While safety might be an issue in some areas, with petty theft being on the rise due to the poor economy of the country, as well as the potential for demonstrations and even shortages, Sri Lanka remains a solid option for travelers.

And starting last year, things started to improve and the country became safer – which is something that will hopefully get better this year and for the years to come.

6. Vietnam

vietnam on 500 per month

Yes, Vietnam is a very affordable place to live and it’s also one of the most popular countries where digital nomads choose to go.

This means that prices are on the rise here – especially in more popular destinations like Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, bur fortunately there a LOT more options in the country, usually associated with very low costs of living.

For example, you can find great studios for as low as $200 per month here including all bills.

What makes this country really amazing are its stunning beaches – Vietnam having a huge coastline, with cities’ infrastructure getting better and better.

I’ve been to places like Sam Son or the Quynh Phuong area in Hoàng Mai and you’re already starting to see wider sidewalks and generally saner traffic.

So, yes – it’s possible to live in Vietnam on $500 per month but I would recommend choosing cities that are not yet on tourists’ radars to keep costs as low as possible.

This country is generally safe, the locals are friendly and speak at least acceptable English, and many people from around the world choose to come here for a digital nomad lifestyle.

7. Can you still live in Thailand for $500 per month?

living in thailand on 500 a month

Absolutely! Thailand is one of the most popular countries for digital nomads, and it’s also very easy to find affordable accommodation here, while keeping your monthly costs at around $500.

Just like in Vietnam, you will have to stay away from the popular areas. Bangkok, Chiang Mai and most of the coastal towns and cities are very expensive by Thai standards, and you will surely need a higher budget to live here.

But if you go more inland, in cities that haven’t been flooded by expats or digital nomads yet, you can still find a decent place to rent for around $100 per month, although it’s safer to budget around $200.

I recommend you to start renting in a hotel (which gives you basically a room and no kitchen) and then ask around until you find a great deal. Sign a long term lease and you’re all set!

Food is very cheap in Thailand, but home cooking is a bit difficult, as many places don’t have a kitchen – so pay attention to that when renting. Still, you could eat three meals at restaurants for as low as $5 per day – so food costs can be as low as $150.

I don’t think it’s sustainable longer term, but with rent and food covered by around $350, you still have enough money left to eat healthy and have some fun.

I wrote an in-depth article about living in Thailand of $500 and concluded that you’d do much better if you have a bit more money on hand – at least $700 (while $1,000 would start to allow you some luxury).

But if you are careful with your spending and smart when choosing the city you live in, even a lower budget of $500 will do.

8. Can you still live in The Philippines for $500 per month?

living in the philippines on 500 per month

Yes, the Philippines is another very popular SEA country where you can live on $500 per month. It’s also a very popular spot for people retiring on a budget.

It is one of the cheapest countries in Asia and has a lot to offer, so if you are traveling on a tight budget, this deserves to be at the top of your list.

The best thing about living in The Philippines is that you can travel to a variety of islands to unwind or live in, and all of these locations are highly appreciated by digital nomads from all over the world.

Therefore, it’s really simple to locate your own private paradise in The Philippines if you want to spend some time here on a budget. Not to mention the fact that Filipino women are attracted to foreigners, even if they are not rich by Western standards.

The cost of renting will be higher in major cities like Manila, Cebu or the touristy ones, but you may find affordable studio apartments in many smaller cities for as little as $100 per month.

If you don’t mind living in a Filipino village, then you can rent an entire house here for as low as $150 and have your own yard,too.

As far as safety goes, The Philippines is generally safe but some of the outlying islands can be dangerous and it’s important to stay alert when traveling around this country (especially since traffic laws here are not very strict).

However, as we already saw in my in-depth cost of living in Cebu article, a budget close to $1,000 is more suitable here (as in most places on this list).

9. Can you still live in Indonesia on $500 per month?

living in indonesia on the cheap

The answer is yes, but this may require some sacrifices on your side – especially when it comes to comfort.

Also, there are quite a few things that can be dangerous about living in Indonesia – especially if you are not familiar with the local culture.

The main one is that they recently passed a law that makes it illegal for men and women who are unmarried to live under the same roof. This also applies to foreigners, which is pretty much a deal breaker for many.

So gone are the days where single men went there with the single purpose of meeting a beautiful Indonesian woman.

Sure, you can still do that, but the relationship must become official before she’s even allowed to come to your place!

Still, I would recommend staying in places like Bali or Java since they are more developed and probably safer for foreigners (especially women). Make sure to abide by the local rules and all will be fine.

As far as accommodation goes, you can find cheap studios for about $200 per month but these will usually be very basic so it’s important to do your research before you choose a place to rent.

And don’t forget about the humidity, since Indonesia is known for its extremely hot climate which can get very exhausting after some time (especially if it rains all day long).

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Countries in South America where you can live on $500 per month

Living in South America is more expensive this year compared to previous ones, but there are still a few places where you can live on a budget.

The countries here are perfect to retire to or become an expat in, as they are close to the US and are extremely beautiful.

While it’s not as easy to live on $500 here as it is in Asia, it’s still doable. Let’s see where.

1. Colombia

living in colombia on 500 per month

The first country South American country that I can recommend is Colombia, where you can find decent apartments for under $200 per month. This is essentially a bargain, because it covers all utilities and internet.

While many people choose Medellin as the place to live because of its high standard of living, this means that it’s also a bit more expensive as it is expat-priced. The same can be said about Bogota and other popular destinations.

Any other smaller city will be much cheaper, but do your own due diligence to make sure they are safe.

Also, if you are planning to rent a place for longer periods of time, then it’s always better to go directly to the owner and negotiate your own price.

Safety might be an issue here though, so try to practice all common sense measures if you choose this country as your destination.

For example, I got robbed in Bogota (and I’m not the only one) – but it was mainly because I was traveling alone, at night, in dark area with no other people around.

As long as you keep away from such areas – and everybody can tell you the dangerous places to stay away from – you will most likely be fine.

But keep in mind that Colombia is not as cheap as some other countries on this list – so $500 per month will only cover basic needs here and it won’t allow you to live like a king. But is it doable? Definitely, it is!

However, if you want a more luxurious lifestyle, then it will surely cost more than $500 per month.

2. Bolivia

bolivia is cheap

Bolivia is another great option for digital nomads who want to travel and explore South America on a budget.

While you can find cheap apartments in cities like La Paz or Santa Cruz, I would recommend staying in Sucre since it’s much safer than other places (and more peaceful too).

Also, don’t forget about the altitude – Bolivia is one of the highest countries in the world so make sure you are ready for this.

Accommodation prices vary depending on location, but if you’re willing to rent a room then it shouldn’t cost more than $100 per month.

As far as renting an entire apartment – my personal recommendation would be El Centro area where monthly rent can go as low as $200.

However, make sure to check the quality of utilities before you sign a contract – since some apartments may have issues with water and electricity (which is quite common in Bolivia).

One important thing to keep in mind is that not many people speak English here so you’ll have to rely on translation apps or learn a bit of Spanish yourself.

3. Paraguay

paraguay on 500 a month

Another cheap country in South America is Paraguay.

You can find a great studio for only $100 per month, but if you are looking to rent an entire apartment then it will cost around $200 – which is still very affordable compared to other countries on this list.

However, the quality of living conditions may vary between different cities so make sure to do your research before you decide where to live.

For example, living in Asunción may be more expensive than other places and it will cost about $200 for a studio or $300+ per month for an entire apartment (with all utilities included).

But if we compare this price with other capital cities of South America then it’s still very affordable.

In my opinion, the best city to live in Paraguay is San Pedro – it has a small town feel with modern amenities and living conditions (and you can find great apartments for under $200).

Just like many other places on this list – English fluency may be an issue here so make sure that you have an extra skill that you can use to earn money.

In conclusion, I would recommend this country for retirees or digital nomads who want to explore South America on a budget and have some time to improve their Spanish skills.

Countries in Europe where you can live on $500 per month

Europe is not a cheap place to live in, for sure. But there is more to Europe than the expensive EU and Schengen areas – there are actually some really underrated countries here where you can still make it on $500 per month.

1. Moldova [one of my favorite countries!]

residential buildings in Moldova

This is a hidden gem in Europe and few people consider it or even know about Moldova. However, it’s one of the cheapest in Europe and $500 a month will take you far.

And when I say “cheapest”, I mean that you can find a room in an apartment for only $50-$100 per month.

And if you are looking to rent an entire apartment for yourself, you can still do so for around $150 per month in most cities, including the capital – Chisinau.

Other cities in Moldova will surely be cheaper than Chisinau, but have in mind that they are usually small and don’t have a lot to offer in terms of things to see and do. This can be a bonus, though, if you need to be ultra focused on your work.

As far as food, rent and transport go, they’re all similarly cheap and you can expect your US dollars (or Euros or any other currency) to take you a long way.

The biggest advantage of living in Moldova is the fact that it’s very easy to travel all over Europe from there as you can buy a bus/train ticket for only $20-$30 to nearby countries.

As far as safety goes, Moldova is on the trickier side at the moment due to its shared borders with Ukraine.

It also has deep Russian ties, despite a pro-European government, so some would consider it risky to visit Moldova during these times.

I personally believe that it is 100% safe to go there, but in the end, the decision is entirely yours, so make sure to fully research this topic.

2. Serbia

living in serbia on a budget

If you are looking for a cheap place to stay in Europe then Serbia is another good option.

The only problem with Serbia is the fact that everything here costs a little bit more than in Moldova – but it’s still possible to live on $500 per month if you are smart about your expenses and choose a smaller city to live in.

So how much will rent cost? In Belgrade, this price can be as low as $250 for a studio but it will be very hard to find an entire apartment under $500.

Therefore, try some of the cities close to the Romanian border – Kladovo, Negotin or Majdanpek. Or any other smaller city in the country.

Here, you can find good studios and even 1-bedroom apartments for $200 per month (even less!).

As far as food goes, Serbians prepare some of the best pastries in the world – and they are extremely cheap.

They have local supermarkets that are also extremely cheap (like Dis or Lidl), but eating out is affordable too, even on a budget.

The locals are extremely friendly and they love to make their guests feel welcomes. And even though their English level is not that great – especially in the smaller cities, their friendliness will totally make up for it.

All in all, while it won’t be extremely easy to live on $500 per month in Serbia, it’s doable – and definitely worth it since this is an amazing country to be in.

3. Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia and herzegovina on 500 per month

If you are looking for the cheapest place to live in Europe then Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely your best option – and very similar to Serbia in terms of living conditions.

This country has been very cheap for years but it’s still possible to find a room/apartment here even if you have only $500 per month (just don’t expect luxury living conditions).

The biggest disadvantage of living in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the fact that this country has a really poor transport system (although it’s still cheap).

If you are looking for food, then try to cook yourself – grocery stores here sell low-priced foods. And just like with my recommendation above, Bosnia has some amazing pastries and street food, perfect for a snack or a quick breakfast.

Actually, you will see many people here having breakfast like that: a glass of yogurt and a tasty pastry for $1 to $1.5. Yum!

As far as safety goes, Bosnia and Herzegovina is very safe to live in (even if you are traveling solo), although recently there have been some protests in the country.

Tourists are still safe though, generally, but make sure to do your due diligence before moving.

Conclusion

Even though it is possible to live on $500 per month in the countries listed above, it won’t be easy in most of them, and you will definitely not live like royalty there.

But if you are on a very low budget, it’s these countries that will offer the biggest bang for your buck – definitely allowing you to enjoy life A LOT more than you would in the US for the same budget – or in most other places in the world.

And if you have a slightly higher budget, then there are even more options – I’ve shared them all in my article about the countries where you can live on $750 per month.

With all the prices increasing like crazy all over the world, it’s getting more and more difficult to find decent, safe and expat-friendly places where you can live on a such a limited budget.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to do it – so take advantage of this while it lasts!

Do you have other recommendations of places where you managed to at least make ends meet on $500 per month? Let us all know by commenting below!

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12 thoughts on “15 Countries Where You Can Live for $500 Per Month”

  1. Great article. I have lived in Thailand for 22 years. I am a retired American. You can rent a studio for $100.00 a month with electric. These rooms are unfurnished so take some seed money with you.

    A table several chairs, couch, TV, ice box, dishes, pans, silver ware, bedding blankets, fan, lamp, I’d say $1,000.00 USD may get you set up.

    A retirement VISA if you are over 50 will cost $300.00 a year. Food, $50.00 a month for Thai, White Boy food is a bit more expensive, beer costs about $1.50 a quart. You can get around on a bike or walking or Baht bus for 30 cents a trip. You for sure can live on $500.00 USD a month.

    Reply
  2. Interesting how you priced the studio in Laos. I assume you looked at Vientiane. The price for a one bedroom apartment if you step away from the centre is far less. In Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang, you could find a row house for $40 a month. Mine has living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen area, plus a tiny outdoor bit for washing dishes. It has AC and fans and costs $41 per month plus electric and water ($4.50). It is within walking distance of the centre of town too (5 minutes).

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing this, Jack! You did manage to get a great deal! It’s definitely an extremely valuable thing to know, both for the readers – as well as for me.

      When pricing in the costs, I always try to go for a mid-higher budget just to keep things safer. I think that you can always find much better deals in any of the countries mentioned above, but it’s always better to assume costs are higher and find out they’re not than the other way around.

      Reply
    • Hey jack, where would I find these places exactly, my mother want to move since she can’t afford retirement here and wants to hire a live in nurse in Laos.

      Reply
  3. if you include exact addresses or street names google map that helps and proof with month/year as this is vague can live but no exaxt details of locations or areas

    Reply
    • It’s not about a specific address – you can live on this budget in most places in the said countries. It’s all about how you live and how you spend, though.

      Reply
  4. Good information. Surprised that only 2, or 3 (relatively minor) countries fit the budget bracket of $500. The inflated costs since the (so called) epidemic are killing adventure. My question is, (and has been for a couple of years now) as an American, can I just go to any of these countries and live there, or do they boot you out after a period of time? Thanks

    Reply
    • For most countries, you will need to get extra visas to live longer (more than 6-12 months), which equals more money spent.

      But since some are grouped together, with a bit of planning, you can make it work by living a few months in a country, a few in another, and so on, returning to one that you’ve already been to afterwards, rinse and repeat.

      Reply
    • Thanks for spotting the mistake. Being so used with Walmart, it’s no shock that I wrote that name in place of the correct one. All is good now.

      Reply

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