These Are the 10 Cheapest Countries to Move to If You’re Ready to Leave the U.S.

published May 9, 2024
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Lisbon, Portugal skyline with Sao Jorge Castle
Credit: TTstudio / Shutterstock

Are you dreaming of escaping your HCOL (high cost of living) one-bedroom apartment for a place where you can get a dreamy home in a country where most people only hope to vacation?

You’re not the only one, and some people are realizing that it’s easy to make moving out of the U.S. a reality. Whether it’s a short-term stint working remotely, a months-long sabbatical, or the fortunate privilege of totally unplugging for a few months, there are countries where you can pick up and set temporary roots while enjoying a lower cost of living, incredible views, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Ready to make it happen? Here are 10 of the cheapest countries to live in and consider moving to for a new life abroad. While you may not be ready to retire just yet, data pulled from the Global Retirement Index’s data on the best places to retire was used as a barometer for cost of living and quality of life to compile this list. 

1. Colombia

If you want a lower cost of living but with the richness and culture of a big city, consider moving to Colombia, where you can find apartments in major metropolitan areas like Medellin and Cartagena for $500 to $2,000 a month for two bedroom rentals. You can spend your weeks immersing yourself in the vibrant food, coffee, and history scene, then venture out to explore the diverse landscape of the country on the weekends, including rain forests, islands, and mountains.

Colombia also makes it easy for remote workers to get digital nomad visas to live up to two years, giving you plenty of time to explore the country and settle into the Colombian way of life. 

2. Portugal 

Portugal has been a hotspot for expats for several years now because it boasts one of the lower costs of living among Western European countries. In Lisbon, you can find a furnished one-bedroom apartment for under $1,000. That leaves you lots of wiggle room to spend your money on cozy meals down cobblestone streets, weekend trips to the sunny beaches, and afternoons relaxing at their renowned vineyards.

Digital nomads can get a visa to stay in Portugal for up to two years, while you can stay up to 90 days without a visa. 

3. Costa Rica

For those who prioritize a sustainable, eco-friendly way of life, Costa Rica is a top spot for an inexpensive place to live with an incredible quality of life. You can rent a two-bedroom apartment for $800, and you’ll quickly find that the cost of fresh, healthy, delicious food is surprisingly affordable. Whether you prefer rainforest or beach, there are expat-friendly towns on both coasts of the country. 

Plus, there’s a 180-day tourist visa that makes it perfect for a short six month stint where you can decide if the tropical climate is something you want long term.

4. Mexico

Mexico is vast, with the massive metropolis that is Mexico City, the art center of Oaxaca, and the beaches of both coasts. But one thread that ties them together is a low cost of living that is alluring to those looking for a cheaper place to live. You could rent a place near the beach for $600 a month for a studio or go to the historic and charming city of San Miguel de Allende and pay a bit more at $900 for a walkable place full of character. 

You can get a temporary work visa for anywhere from six months to four years, giving you plenty of time to explore different regions of the country.

5. Panama

Panama makes it easy on expats from the U.S. from the minute you pull out your wallet — they use the American dollar. And you can use those dollars to pay your relatively inexpensive rent. Expect to pay $800 for a house in the mountains or closer to $600 to $1,000 for a two-bedroom  if you prefer to be in Panama City’s most popular urban areas. Panama is one of the few carbon neutral countries on the planet, which makes it appealing for those looking for a more sustainable quality of life, and its tropical climate is nearly universally appealing. 

A digital nomad visa in Panama will let you stay up to nine months enjoying its gorgeous weather and beautiful landscape.

6. Vietnam

You’ll pay between $400 and $900 for a one-bedroom apartment or house in Vietnam depending on the level of basic amenities or luxury that you’re looking for, and you can plan to pay less than half of what you’re used to in the U.S. for most basic household items. On top of that, you’ll be in the midst of some of the best cuisine in the world with Michelin starred restaurants and 5-star hotels next to mouth watering street food.

You can only stay 90 days in Vietnam on a visa, but there are other nearby countries you can pop over to when that expires.

7. Malaysia

When your time in Vietnam is up, head over to Malaysia, where you can rent a three-bedroom apartment on the beach for $900 a month. You’ll spend less on groceries, meals out, and have more money for exploring the rich landscape of the country including the rainforest and mountains. Plus, you’re in close proximity to some of the most popular Southeast Asian countries for both adventure and culture. 

A digital nomad visa in Malaysia will allow you to stay up to 12 months enjoying the climate, food, and diversity of the cities, beaches, and mountains.

8. Thailand

Every day can be a beach vacation when you move to Thailand, where you can get a one-bedroom condo within walking distance to the sandy shores for just $500. You won’t spend much on food either, with refreshing, delicious street food dishes setting you back just a few dollars each. 

Thailand boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, with crystal clear waters and lush surroundings, as well as bustling major cities, and, while a visa stay is only 30 days, you can look into purchasing a 10-year digital nomad visa geared towards wealthy expats.

9. Greece

Wake up every day to stunning Mediterranean views for just $860 a month when you decide to move to Greece. You can immerse yourself in history, nature, and charming small villages all while spending slightly less than you would in the U.S. to live and eat every day. Even in tourist-heavy areas, it’s still affordable compared to many European countries.

You can stay up to 12 months on a digital nomad visa in Greece.

10. Ecuador

You’ll spend just $600 for a comfortable apartment in Ecuador, where you’ll also get to use the U.S. dollar. You can find cooler temperatures if you settle down in the mountains, and the country has a diverse landscape of plains, jungle, and mountains. There are major cities, sweeping countryside, and, of course, the Galápagos Islands. It’s one of those places that may not be on your radar as a top tourist destination in South America, but the culture, people, and food make it a place you shouldn’t miss when exploring places to escape.

Plus, you can stay up to two years on a digital nomad visa, giving you ample time to explore the country and the nations surrounding it.