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.
Next, we have Bangladesh which is one of the cheapest countries where you can live on $500 per month. This country has a great value for money and it’s also relatively safe to travel around!
The cheapest studio to rent can be found here for as low as $190 per month. There are also good opportunities for home cooking, but make sure to choose the right places if you want to enjoy a healthy diet!
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.
Nepal is one of the cheapest countries in Asia when it comes to food. You can easily live on $500 per month here if you combine street food with some home cooking – just like in all the other places recommended above.
However, there are many excellent opportunities for hiking and biking around Nepal which make visiting this country really worthwhile (if you are into these things, that is).
As far as accommodation goes – there are also many options available. You can rent a studio for just $150 per month if you don’t mind staying in the outskirts of Kathmandu (which might not be very safe), otherwise it will cost around $250 to live closer to the city center.
Alternately, you can choose a smaller city in the country and get a good rental for around $150 – $200 per month.
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 destination for digital nomads. It has a lot to offer and it’s also one of the cheapest countries in Asia – so if you are traveling on a budget then this should be at the top of your list.
The best part about living in The Philippines is that there are many different islands where you can go to relax – and all of these places are very popular among digital nomads.
So if you want some time off the grid then it’s really easy to find your own hidden paradise in The Philippines (at least for a couple of weeks).
The main cities like Manila will be more expensive when it comes to renting, but there are many smaller places where you can find a cheap studio for just $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 – 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.
So, I would recommend staying in places like Bali or Java since they are more developed and probably safer for foreigners (especially women).
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 that comes to mind is Colombia – where you can find great apartments for less than $200 per month. This includes all utilities and internet, so it’s basically a bargain!
While many people choose Medellin as the place to live because of its high standard living conditions – Bogota offers apartment rentals at very affordable prices.
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 maybe hostels or guesthouses).
If you want a truly luxurious lifestyle then it may 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 country has been very cheap for years and it’s still possible to live here on $500 per month (although the local currency is much weaker now).
When I say cheap, 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 then make sure to check prices in Chișinău – this is the capital city and it’s probably your best option for affordable living.
Other cities in Moldova may be cheaper but they won’t have as much to offer (especially if you are traveling on a budget).
As far as food, rent and transport then these costs will also depend on where you live.
The biggest advantage of living in Moldova is the fact that it’s very easy to travel all over Europe and you can buy a bus/train ticket for only $20-$30 (it will take you between 24-48 hours). Plus, there are at least 100 places on this planet where these buses go through so if you want to add some extra travel time then it’s possible.
As far as safety goes, Moldova is absolutely safe to live in and you won’t have any issues with local people here (although Russian may be more common than English).
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!