Wanderlust or Bust: 4 Global Destinations Fit for a $500 Monthly Budget

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 9, 2017

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Money Saving Tips
August 17, 2016

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Living abroad can seem like a dream when you’re short on cash, but there are more affordable places than you may think. Housing costs tend to make up the majority of living expenses for the average American. A recent Time study of 50 U.S. states revealed that the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment came to just under $1,235 a month for less than 700 square feet of space. Although this average rental cost represents a disparity in regional rents (between $470 and $3,600), it is still indicative of the exorbitant costs of living stateside and can easily make you wonder whether a $500 living budget is feasible anywhere in the world. Well, it is! Discover four budget-friendly abodes abroad.

Chiang Mai is located in the northern region of Thailand and proves to be an affordable option for expats or retirees who want to live abroad on limited funds. This Western-influenced city is in the countryside, which helps contribute to its low cost. Housing can be nearly 60 percent less than housing in the United States. For example, it’s possible to rent a 1,200-square-foot home for between $200 and $400 in Chiang Mai, as of 2015.

Phnom Penh has long been an expat’s paradise where many have been able to survive on $500 a month. If you live near the city’s center, you can find one-bedroom apartments for as low as $300 a month, as of 2016. Staying just outside the city’s center can save you just a little more than $100 per month on rent.

Living in Panama can save you almost 21 percent on rent and 28 percent on overall living costs in comparison to living in the United States, as of 2016. Staying near the center of Pedasí, with rents as low as $500 a month, can save you additional money. This small Pacific coastal town is an ideal place to watch humpback whales pass by during the warmer summer and early fall months. The white sand beaches also make it an appealing spot to retire or live as an expat.

Lake Atitlán offers great lake views in a tropical climate. You can also experience volcano views at inexpensive restaurants. It doesn’t hurt that renting a home can cost about $325 a month, and local transportation can cost less than $1 a day.

Fulfilling your nomadic dreams doesn’t have to leave your pockets empty. The Far East and Central America have budget-friendly options that may fit your needs.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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