Retirement

13 Exciting Places Where You Can Live For $1,500 (Or Less) A Month

Living in the United States is not cheap—especially as prices continue to soar, from groceries to transportation to housing. According to recent reports, an American household spends an average of $61,334 per year on their expenses, with housing being the largest expense, at almost $1,800 a month. So why not move someplace where it costs a whole lot less to live?

International Living recently released a list of 13 places around the globe where a couple can live for as little as $1,500 a month (or less). This figure covers everything: housing, healthcare, food, fun and more. And here’s the good news: That’s for a couple. If you’re single, you can live for a whole less.

To come up with this list of cheapest places to live, International Living analyzed seven key factors: housing, visas, cost of living, healthcare, climate and more. Beyond this, the report considered additional amenities such as high-speed internet access, networking opportunities and English-speaking communities.

From Mexico, which leads the list with its three budget-friendly locations to Southeast Asia (with five standout destinations), these places offer a glimpse into a life where saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing a rich lifestyle.

Check out these 13 exciting places where you can live for as little as $1,500 a month.

Top Places To Live In The Americas

Arenal, Costa Rica

Why Move There: Located about three hours north of San José and three hours east of Liberia, Arenal captivates residents with its breathtaking views and moderate, breezy weather. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Arenal for hiking in the rainforest and a rich diversity of wildlife, with over 200 bird species, monkeys and coatis. The region’s allure extends beyond its natural beauty to its affordable real estate and low cost of living.

The Cost: According to International Living, expats report living comfortably on $1,500 or less per month, with rents as low as $400 for chic apartments or cozy homes with tranquil Mediterranean views. Dining out is affordable, with meals ranging from $6 to $15, and local sodas offering breakfast for $3.50.

Armenia, Colombia

Why Move There: Armenia features natural beauty and a vibrant coffee culture. With a population of just over 300,000, it’s a mid-sized city with easy access to colonial towns and parks. Known as the “eternal spring” city, it has year-round warm weather, ideal for outdoor activities.

The Cost: According to International Living, expats can live comfortably on $1,500 or less per month. Renting in Armenia offers an affordable alternative to buying, with one-bedroom apartments ranging from $400 to $550 per month. Food costs average around $200 per month, with options available for those seeking more budget-friendly living outside the city center.

Cozumel, Mexico

Why Move There: Cozumel, known for its laid-back island vibe and stunning natural beauty, attracts an international mix of residents drawn to its white-sand beaches. It’s also renowned as a scuba diving destination and a haven for nature enthusiasts. Plus, with more than 350 restaurants, there’s something for every taste and budget.

The Cost: Many expats comfortably live on $1,500 a month, according to International Living. Cozumel also features top-notch healthcare services. Renting a one-bedroom condo typically ranges from $450 to $700 a month. High-speed internet services are available at a reasonable $20, and utilities, including electricity and water, average around $70. Dining out is affordable, with lunch for two costing as little as $10, while a dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant comes to about $25.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Why Move There: Located a short 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres welcomes visitors with its vibrant Mexican Caribbean vibe and Mayan influences. Despite being a major tourist destination, this small island offers a charming lifestyle for expats with white-sand beaches and laid-back neighborhoods. Most residents navigate the island via golf carts or the hop-on hop-off bus, which costs just over a dollar and conveniently drops passengers at their doorsteps.

The Cost: Renting an apartment with utilities included can cost around $600 a month, according to International Living. While beachfront restaurants in the hotel zone cater to tourists at higher prices, local kitchens and street food stalls provide authentic Mexican cuisine at a fraction of the cost, like a three-course meal for $5 to $6.

Querétaro, Mexico

Why Move There: Located in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, Querétaro blends historic charm with modern amenities. With a population of about 1.1 million in the greater metropolitan area, this city is renowned for its high quality of life. Its well-preserved historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. You’ll find modern malls, excellent medical facilities and a vibrant cultural scene, plus easy access to international flights from nearby Mexico City.

The Cost: According to International Living, expats can live comfortably on $1,500 or less per month, with rents starting at $500 for a one-bedroom apartment and dining out for about $25 for a couple.

Top Places To Live In Asia

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why Move There: In the northern mountains of Thailand, Chiang Mai is an ancient city with modern appeal. With a population of 127,000 residents, Chiang Mai has a population of Thai, Chinese, Indians and expats—who all coexist seamlessly. Beyond its historical and cultural richness, Chiang Mai offers an affordable lifestyle and a temperate mountain climate.

The Cost: According to International Living, renting a three-bedroom condominium with panoramic hill views can cost as little as $300 a month, with monthly living costs, excluding housing, averaging $300 for a solo explorer and $1,000 for a couple. Dining out becomes an adventure with a three-course meal for two costing around $10, allowing you to savor this city’s vibrant food scene without straining your budget.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Why Move There: Hoi An, a World Heritage Site, captivates with its rich history and idyllic setting along an estuary of the Thu Bon River. The town’s pedestrian-friendly environment, with its central area off-limits to cars and motorbikes, invites leisurely strolls. Home to about 120,000 people and home to one of Southeast Asia’s prettiest beaches—An Bang Beach—Hoi An is steeped in history, with its Ancient Town once a bustling port of call for traders from China, Japan and Europe.

The Cost: According to International Living, renting a two-bedroom apartment in the center of town can cost as little as $500 per month, while studio and one-bedroom houses start at less than $300 per month. A couple can live comfortably for under $1,500 per month, including rent, utilities, dining out and incidental expenses. Dining options abound, with a meal for two at a cheap restaurant costing $5 or less, and a cup of high-quality coffee (Vietnam is one of the world’s largest coffee producers) for just $1.50.

Kuching, Malaysia

Why Move There: Founded in 1839 along the tranquil Sarawak River, Kuching, Malaysia was once a strategic trading post connecting Asian seaports with Borneo’s lush interior. Today, it is known for its bustling streets alive with food stalls and its vibrant café culture. The city’s picturesque setting, with the meandering river and antique stores lining its banks, adds to its appeal for expats. Plus, with its proximity to national parks, Kuching is an ideal base for day trips to explore wild coastal and rainforest destinations.

The Cost: According to International Living, living in Kuching offers affordability and charm. A high-quality cappuccino costs just $3, while local coffee provides excellent value at $0.60 per cup. Renting a three-bedroom house within walking distance of the town center typically costs $700 per month. Monthly living costs for a couple, excluding housing, average an additional $500.

Penang, Malaysia

Why Move There: The island of Penang blends history, golden beaches and culture. With a vibrant population of 1.6 million residents, Penang has a diverse population where Malays, Chinese, Indians and expats coexist seamlessly. Penang stands out for its cost-effective living and first-rate healthcare.

The Cost: According to International Living, you can easily find a three-bedroom condominium with sweeping sea and hill views within a five-mile radius of the city center for an affordable $380 a month. Monthly living costs, excluding housing, are remarkably budget-friendly—a mere $500 for a single person and $1,000 for a family of two. Dining out is a pleasure, too, with a three-course meal for two costing around $15.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Why Move There: Set at the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers, Phnom Penh is a vibrant capital city that seamlessly blends ancient Khmer heritage with French colonial charm. Its bustling streets (this is a big walking city), diverse architecture and fusion cuisine create a unique atmosphere. Plus, its affordability and expat-friendly environment make it an attractive destination for retirees and expatriates alike.

The Cost: Living in Phnom Penh offers affordability and a high quality of life. According to International Living, monthly living costs for a couple, excluding housing, amount to $300 per month. Renting a three-bedroom, 900-square-foot apartment within walking distance of the town center typically costs $1,100 per month. In total, a couple can expect to spend around $1,400 per month.

Top Places To Live In Europe

Alicante, Spain

Why Move There: Alicante, on the sun-drenched Costa Blanca, is known for its relaxed seaside living. With a warm, sunny climate, a wealth of dining options, plus a pretty historic old town Alicante provides a pleasant lifestyle that won’t break the bank. It’s home to sizable numbers of expats—about 15% of the permanent population is foreign. As a result, you can get by fairly easily in Alicante with minimal Spanish. It’s also easily accessible. The international Alicante-Elche Airport is served by both major and discount carriers serve the airport.

The Cost: Alicante offers affordability alongside its cultural richness. According to International Living, renting a chic apartment in the heart of the city or a cozy home with a view of the Mediterranean can cost less than $700 a month. With monthly expenses for a couple, excluding rent, averaging around $700, living in Alicante is both comfortable and budget-friendly—coming in at around $1,400 a month.

Bergerac, France

Why Move There: In southwest France, Bergerac—also known as the Périgord region—offers quintessential French charm. With its picturesque villages, honey-colored stone farmhouses and pastoral landscapes, it’s a dream destination for many expats seeking the essence of France. The city itself has a rich cultural scene, including art exhibitions, music festivals and gastronomic celebrations like Les Tables de Cyrano. Additionally, Bergerac’s central location makes it convenient for exploring the rest of southwestern France or venturing to the French Riviera.

The Cost: While the region is renowned for its beauty, it remains relatively accessible in terms of cost, coming in at around $1,500 a month. According to International Living, expats can find charming village houses or rustic farmhouses for reasonable prices.

Granada, Spain

Why Move There: Set at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalusia, Granada offers a captivating blend of Moorish heritage and Spanish charm. Its ancient streets and centuries-old buildings (including the the iconic Alhambra fortress complex) provide a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Fueled by the energy of its university, Granada is an ideal destination for expats seeking a culturally rich yet relaxed lifestyle, along a lively social scene.

The Cost: With a budget of around $1,000 a month for a couple, Granada offers an enriching and affordable lifestyle. According to International Living, comfortable apartments in the city center are available for under $600 a month. You can enjoy a café con leche for just over $1 or savor a traditional meal for two at a local restaurant for about $25.

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