If you don’t have a huge monthly budget, this article will be pure gold for you. It will show you that being a digital nomad – or just moving abroad – is possible on a shoestring budget too.
We’ll go over several countries where one can live on $500 per month and present them in detail. It’s a complete list with plenty of options for you to choose from.
Have in mind that it’s getting more and more difficult nowadays to live on $500 per month, even in the cheapest countries out there. 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.
This article comes after the previous one I wrote, where I was saying that you don’t have to be rich to become a digital nomad. While such a low budget is stretching it a bit, it could give you the fuel you need to get your career on track, build it up and afford to spend more in the future.
Because living long term on $500 per month is most likely not sustainable: it’s OK when you’re young and healthy, but you won’t stay like that forever.
With these in mind, let’s check out a complete list of countries where you can still make ends meed on $500 per month (for one person).
Countries in Asia where you can live on $500 per month
Asia is probably the most easiest continent to travel around when living on a budget, especially South East Asia.
While prices have gone up a lot in recent years, you can still make ends meet on a limited budget if you set lower standards and spend most time indoors or enjoying free activities for entertainment.
This country offers a good value for money and some amazing nature spots to visit, such as the capital city of Vientiane or Phou Khoun.
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) and entertainment.
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 and will always be willing to help you if needed.
The second country in Asia where you can live comfortably on $500 per month is Cambodia.
This beautiful country has 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 have a great time here.
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.
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.
The next country is Bangladesh, one of the least expensive where you may survive on $500 per month. The value for money in this nation is excellent, and travel is generally safe.
Here, you can get a small apartment for as little as $190 a month. Additionally, there are plenty of options for home cooking, as well as eating out, although the cheap food you can get here is not always the healthiest.
You can live here for about $500 per month if you rent an apartment and buy groceries, which will be about half of your budget.
People in Bangladesh are very friendly and will definitely help you with anything that you might need during your stay here – this is one of the main reasons why this country is so popular among digital nomads.
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.
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 options accessible in terms of lodging. If you don’t mind living on Kathmandu’s outskirts (which might not be particularly safe), you can rent a studio for just $150 per month; alternatively, it will cost about $250 to live closer to the city center.
Nepal is also very welcoming when it comes to foreigners.
5. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is another great destination which you can visit if you have a limited budget.
It’s also one of the most beautiful countries in Asia, with many green hills and amazing nature spots to enjoy along the way. This country has a lot going for it.
A studio will cost around $300 per month here – but you can score some hotel deals for a similar price, including cleaning and maybe some food, so in the end it’s not as expensive.
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.
As for safety concerns, quite a few people get robbed when visiting Sri Lanka but if you stay alert and use common sense there shouldn’t be any problems.
However, you should also be careful while using public transport and avoid going out at night in some of the smaller cities (like Kandy).
Can you still live in Thailand on $500 per month?
Absolutely! Thailand is one of the most popular countries for digital nomads, and it’s also very easy to find affordable accommodation here.
The cheapest studio you can get in Bangkok will cost around $200 per month (usually with a cleaning service included), but if you want cheaper options then go outside of this city – like Chiang Mai which is a very popular destination as well.
Here you can get your own studio for just $100 per month – and this usually includes everything from cleaning to electricity. In addition, it’s easy to find cooking jobs in Thailand if you want to save some money on food expenses.
But make sure that you choose the right areas when renting since there can be some safety issues in certain neighborhoods.
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).
Can you still live 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 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.
The cost of renting will be higher in major cities like Manila, but you may find affordable studio apartments in many smaller cities for as little as $100 per month.
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).
Can you still live in 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. You can find great studios for as low as $200 per month here including all bills – but what makes this country really amazing are its stunning beaches.
If you want some time off the grid then you can always find your own private island for just a couple of hundred dollars per month.
So, yes – it’s possible to live in Vietnam on $500 per month but I would recommend staying closer to cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City if safety is an important factor for you.
However, this country is generally safe and many people from around the world choose to come here for a digital nomad lifestyle.
Can you still live in Indonesia on $500 per month?
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).
Countries in South America where you can live on $500 per month
If you’re planning a trip to Latin American countries, but don’t have much money – there are some great options for you. While it’s not as easy to live on $500 as it is in Asia, it’s still doable.
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 conditions, this means that it’s also a bit more expensive as it is expat-priced. It still is cheap, and the same can be said about Bogota.
Any other smaller cities will be much cheaper, but do your own due diligence to make sure they are ase. 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.
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.
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).
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 it’s absolutely essential for self-improvement.
While there is no need to learn Spanish (since everyone speaks English), it’s still great for you as a person since all of the locals speak slowly and clearly.
If you don’t want to rent an apartment, then consider Couchsurfing – this option will allow you to save some money on accommodation while staying with local people who can show you around.
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.
For example, teaching English is a great way to stay in Paraguay without working too much – just don’t forget about your TEFL certification before moving there.
In conclusion, I would recommend this country for 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, for sure. But there is more to Europe than the 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!]
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.
If you are looking for a cheap place to stay in Europe then Serbia is another good option.
The biggest disadvantage of this country is the fact that it’s not as safe as Moldova (although I haven’t seen any issues with people over there). But if you don’t want to live right next to your home, then it will be a great place to stay.
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 living conditions and transport.
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.
You can also try Subotica – this is the best place if you want to live in Serbia on a budget because rent is much cheaper here (and living conditions are not too bad).
As far as food goes, I would recommend buying your groceries in Walmart or Lidl – they sell the lowest-priced foods and drinks.
Public transport is also around $20 per month so it’s really cheap to get around Serbia (but Uber may be cheaper).
As far as safety goes, I would say that this country can be safe if you don’t walk alone at night and don’t get involved in shady business.
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you are looking for the cheapest place to live in Europe then Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely your best option.
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 if you don’t want to take the bus everywhere, then make sure to check out Uber.
As far as safety goes, Bosnia and Herzegovina is very safe to live in (even if you are traveling solo). This country doesn’t have any known war zones so it’s a really good option for budget travelers.
Even though it is possible to live on $500 per month in the countries listed above, it won’t be easy. Don’t expect a luxuriant life in these places and have in mind that unexpected expenses could always pop up to ruin the experience.
But if you are on a very low budget, it’s these countries that will offer the biggest bang for your buck.
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!
8 thoughts on “Countries Where You Can Live on $500 Per Month [Complete List]”
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.
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 ($4.50). It is within walking distance of the centre of town too (5 minutes).
Thanks for sharing this, Jack! You did manage to get a great deal! It’s definitely an extremely valuable thing to know, both for the readers – as well as for me.
When pricing in the costs, I always try to go for a mid-higher budget just to keep things safer. I think that you can always find much better deals in any of the countries mentioned above, but it’s always better to assume costs are higher and find out they’re not than the other way around.
Hey jack, where would I find these places exactly, my mother want to move since she can’t afford retirement here and wants to hire a live in nurse in Laos.
Hi Jack I would love to come ne take up a row house.Coukd you help me out.I need wifi though.
if you include exact addresses or street names google map that helps and proof with month/year as this is vague can live but no exaxt details of locations or areas
It’s not about a specific address – you can live on this budget in most places in the said countries. It’s all about how you live and how you spend, though.
cheapest studio apartments in Bangkok will cvost you 65$ a month at NIrand residence 3 or 7 in Ban-Na Trat road chalerm prakiat soi 28