Cheapest Country to Live In

[kkstarratings] This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. We are back in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. We just got back from our cheapest country to live in world tour. In 16 months we visited 5 continents and 13 countries. Each below link has the prices it costs to live there. This post is about the path we took to find the lowest prices. If you are not interested in the path and just wanted to know the prices, visit here.

We feel like a Global Citizen now.  65 countries for me and 25 countries for Qiang Hui.

Here is the crazy map showing all of the flights on this 16-month world tour. The squiggly colored lines are the flights.

Asia: Before we could leave Malaysia, Qiang Hui of Hobo Ventures had to complete the Mercedes Benz Stylo Fashion Show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Here she is on the catwalk with some of her friends.

United Kingdom, London: When we left Malaysia, I didn’t know we would be circling the globe again. We were just trying to get from Malaysia to Mexico. All the cheapest flights were going through London so we decided to visit my sister in the UK on the way to Mexico.

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Mexico (part 1) 5-Week Itinerary: After a week or so in London we headed to Playa del Carmen Mexico. Mexico has always been one of my top 5 countries in the World and I wanted Qiang Hui to see it. So we rented an Airbnb apartment there and hung out for a month. Here is a really large coupon for a large discount if you have never used Airbnb.

Next, we went to Tulum Mexico for about a week. We later returned to Mexico on our early retirement world tour, but next, we flew (cheap flights) to Colombia in South America.

Playa Del Carmen Mexico Top 10 Things to Do and Costs of Living
Tulum Mexico, Top 10 Things to Do and Cost of Living
Top 10 Places to Live or Retire Early in Mexico: Cultural Explorer

Colombia 6 Week Itinerary: We spent more than a month in Columbia. Again, each of the below links include our costs of living and things to do for each place we visited.

You see, my Vagabond Buddha web page and Vagabond Buddha Youtube Channel had started to receive substantial traffic from three types of people.

First, people interested in finding a great affordable paradise to retire. Second, people interested in cheap places to live internationally to reduce expenses while they work remotely or start an online business. Third, people who are interested in how to create passive incomes so the world becomes their playground.

My Best Live or Retire Cheap in Paradise Locations in the World scratches the first two itches, and my Fire Boss and Travel World Free Ebook helps scratch the third itch. Links provided on this web page and in the notes below this Youtube video.

Okay, back to our world tour. Here is where we stopped in Colombia for our living cheap in paradise research. Each link provides the data we collected.

Bogota, Colombia: Top Things to Do, Best Restaurants, Cheap Livability: A capital city.
Medellin Colombia Travel Guide: The garden city of permanent spring weather.
Cartagena Colombia Travel Guide and Video: The most worldly city in S. America.
Santa Marta Colombia Travel Video Guide: The beach and jungle on the Caribbean sea.

Ecuador 3 Month Itinerary: We took the land route from Colombia to Ecuador because we wanted to see this famous church along the border between Colombia and Ecuador. We really loved Ecuador so we ended up spending almost 90 days there. Here is our route through Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands before we headed further south to Peru. We used local luxury buses to move about Ecuador except when we flew to the Galapagos and back.

Otavalo Ecuador Travel Guide & Video: A gorgeous mountain town in the north.
Quito, Ecuador, Cost of Living, Things to Do: A gorgeous colonial-era capital of Ecuador.
Cuenca, Ecuador, Cost of Living, Things to Do Guide: International living retirement heaven.
Guayaquil Ecuador Cost of Living Things to Do: The gateway to the Galapagos.
Galapagos, Santa Cruz Island, Cost of Living, Things to Do: 3 weeks in Galapagos, island #1.
Galapagos Isabela Island Cost of Living Things to Do: Our favorite island, island #2.
Galapagos San Cristobal Island Cost of Living Things to Do: The final island, island #3.

We flew back to Guayaquil Ecuador and headed south into Peru by bus.

Peru 60 Day Itinerary:  We ended up staying in Peru for much longer than expected. It turned out to be much more interesting than I remembered from my visit in 2009. I thought the northern part of Peru was even more interesting than the international favorite, Machu Picchu. Here are the main stops we made in Peru during our 2-month visit. You can follow this path from the north going south from Ecuador into Peru.

Mancora Peru Cheap Hippie Surfer Town: Great cheap food, partying, and surfing.
Northern Peru Chiclayo Cost of Living Things to Do: Must see ancient archaeological sites.
Northern Peru Cajamarca Cost of Living Things to Do: #2 Best Retiring/Living Cheap in Peru
Northern Peru Trujillo Cost of Living Things to Do: Worth a visit for ancient ruins
Things to Do and Cost of Living in Barranco, Peru #3 Best Retiring/Living Cheap in Peru
Cost of Living and Things to Do in Paracas Peru: Visit Candelabra Geoglyphs
Things to Do and Cost of Living in Huacachina and Ica, Peru: Oasis on Way to Nazca Lines
Cost of Living and Things to Do in Nazca Peru: Must see the Nazca Lines from Aircraft
Cost of Living and Things to Do in Arequipa Peru: #1 Best Retiring/Living Cheap in Peru
Cost of Living and Things to Do in Puno Peru: Must see highest lake in World
Cusco Peru Cost of Living and Things to Do: Must see Sacred Valley
Machu Picchu Best Tours: Must see Machu Picchu!

Mexico (Part 2) 4 Month Itinerary: After completing Peru, we flew back to Mexico. We then spent about 4 months investigating the colonial-era cities in the mountains of Mexico. Mexico is the number one place that USA citizens love to vacation and retire. So I decided to traverse Mexico and investigate all the main places Americans seem to be retiring. We spent about one week in each of the following destinations. The last two on the list we actually visited in Mexico Part 1 above, but they included here so will see the path we would take if we visited them in one order. You could also break them down into three visits which I have done here. It felt odd to me to try to pick my favorite and call it the best place to live or retire cheap in Mexico. Since people are all different, that would be an oversimplification. So instead I broke them down into three lists: Top Places in Mexico for (1) Cultural Explorers, (2) Action Sports, and (3) Rural Self-Reliance.

Mexico City: This would be the best place for someone who loves Manhattan in the USA.
Queretaro: This has a very high per capita income and is called the silicon valley of Mexico.
San Miguel: Gorgeous colonial-era mountain town full of history and expats.
Guanajuato: Charming hillside walkable city center where cars are not allowed.
Guadalajara: Too big and spread out for my taste. You need a car and will be in traffic.
Chapala-Ajijic: Lovely lakeside community where many older retiree-expats live and play.
Puerta Vallarta: Small romantic city on the Pacific Ocean with an authentic Mexican feel.
Morelia: Large colonial-era city center that is still truly Mexican.
Patzcuaro: Small lakeside charming town that is still mostly Mexican.
Cuernavaca: An early American favorite that has lost some appeal.
Taxco: Gorgeous colonial-era city integrated into steep sunny mountain terrain.
Tepoztlán: A hippie feeling grow your own organic yoga meditation small village.
Puebla: Large authentic colonial-era city with international corporate presence.
Cholula: The largest pyramid in the world with a church built on top.
Oaxaca: A charming medium-sized truly authentic Mexican city full of original people.
San Cristobal: Colonial-era city highly influenced by proud original people and Europeans.
Campeche: A walled colonial-era mid-sized city, mostly locals, on the Gulf of Mexico.
Merida: A walled colonial-era city on the Gulf of Mexico with medium tourist influences.
Isla Mujeres: A small white sand beach island entirely styled for tourists.
Playa Del Carmen: Mid-sized city on a white sand beach mostly adapted to tourism.
Tulum: Smaller hippie-feeling Mexican village next to white sand high-end tourism beach.

Scotland 14 Day Itinerary: Next we wanted to investigate prices in Portugal, but we stopped to see a few friends along the way. We visited my sister in Glasgow Scotland and then did a day trip to Edinburgh with her. Neither place in Scotland has particularly low prices, but my sister moved Glasgow from London to slower her pace a bit and to save money. Sort of a pre-retirement planning move. After a few weeks in Scotland, we headed to Budapest.

Retire in Glasgow
Digital Nomad in Edinburgh Scotland

Budapest, Hungary 10 Day Itinerary: After Scotland, we visited one of Qiang Hui’s modeling friends in Budapest Hungary. The prices have gone up quite a bit since my last visit to Budapest. But it is still cheaper than in western Europe.

Retire Early in Budapest

Bratislava, Slovakia 4 Day Itinerary: While in Budapest staying with friends, we made weekend trips to nearby Slovakia and Austria. At about $55 per day, Bratislava is a little more expensive than Budapest.

Bratislava Slovakia Weekend Getaway

Vienna, Austria 3 Day Itinerary: Vienna is a gorgeous place, but is too expensive to consider for the cheap-in-paradise narrative. But this is a good place to mention cost savings as a lifestyle enhancer. You see if you spend much of the year in a cheap-in-paradise location, you will have money left over to visit ome higher expense locations in moderation throughout the year. Next we flew off to Lisbon, Portugal.

Vienna Weekend Getaway

Portugal 30 Day Itinerary: Many of my friends have been visiting Portugal over the last decade or so. But I just hadn’t made it over there yet. I had wanted to see both Portugal and Morocco so this made a nice regional visit. I use regional travel to hit all the places in a region on my bucket list after I have purchased an international ticket into that region. By hitting all countries nearby when you are in a region, you check off a bunch of countries with one international flight. We both really loved Portugal and felt that it was a strong contender with Mexico in terms of what you are getting for your money. We spent about a month in Portugal.

Retire in Lisbon, Portugal: #1 Retirement destination for Portugal
Retire in Sintra, Portugal: #3 Retirement destination (#1 if you prefer small cities)
Must See Evora Portugal: Great for weekend getaways
Retire in Coimbra Portugal: Great University town
Retire in Aveiro Portugal: Great for weekend getaways
Porto Portugal Live Cheap Retire Early: #2 Retirement destination for Portugal

Morocco 30 Day Itinerary: After Portugal, we spent about a month in Morocco. The typical European, Canadian, or American is probably not going to be interested in Morocco as a retirement haven. It certainly is an interesting if not an easy place to visit. So, instead of numbering these for retirement, I will indicate which were my favorite for visiting.

Must See in Marrakech: Just visit for 2-3 days
Best Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech: Must-See While in Morocco
Things to do in Fes Morocco: Just visit for 2-3 days
Blue City Chefchaouen Things to Do: Must-See While in Morocco
Things to Do in Rabat Morocco: Just visit for 2-3 days
Things to do in Casablanca Morocco: Just visit for 2-3 days
Things to do Asilah Morocco: Must-See While in Morocco
Things to do in Tangier Morocco: Just do a day trip from Asilah

Madrid, Spain 4 Day Itinerary: We had been on the road for 15 months and it was time to visit our families. It was almost Chinese New Years so Qiang Hui had to go home and visit her parents. I hadn’t seen my family for even longer, so I needed to go to California. Qiang Hui found the cheapest flights for her to Malaysia and for me to California. They both flew out of Madrid Spain so we decided to spend a few days in Madrid before making our connections. I would definitely put Madrid in the running for a cheap-as-compared to the Europe retirement haven. We both really loved Madrid.

Madrid Spain Low Cost Living Retire Early

California, United States 30 Day Itinerary: I spent a month in California before returning to Malaysia to meet Qiang Hui in Kuala Lumpur. About 2 weeks ago I flew back to Malaysia.  During this time, Qiang Hui was celebrating Chinese New Year with family and friends.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: It turns out that Kuala Lumpur is still one of the best live or retire cheap in paradise locations in the world. I will post more on that as time permits.

Qiang Hui and I left on this world tour in October of 2017. I just arrived in Kuala Lumpur 2 weeks ago in February of 2019. Since I flew from California west to Malaysia, I completed a 16 month around the world tour. I visited 5 continents and 13 countries. Now that we are back in Southeast Asia, I will be reporting on the cost of living here for the next few months. Stay tuned.

If you are interested in learning how to live this dream life, grab a free copy of my EBook.  I can promise it won’t be easy or fast.  But it will be worth it.  Now click the below link and get to work:

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

2 thoughts on “Cheapest Country to Live In”

  1. I appreciate your trips and tips. Thank you for all the effort and tireless work applied to a wonderful outcome.
    I just became a traveler influenced be you and Andy @, HoBoTraveler.

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