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Top 10 countries where it’s cheapest to live in

Traveling and living abroad is a dream for many, and one of the key aspects in choosing a place for a new phase of life is budget. The cheapest countries to live in are Pakistan, Egypt, Bhutan and Nepal. To live in them one person needs less than $400 per month. However, these countries are rarely chosen for relocation due to poverty, conflict or limited resources.

Among safe countries, Hungary, Japan, Croatia and Portugal have relatively low cost of living. For a comfortable life here, less than $1200 per month is enough, including rent, food, transport and other services.

In this article we will look at which countries in the world offer the lowest living costs and which are popular with digital nomads. We will also examine the countries that offer a high level of security and the cost of living in them.

10 countries with the lowest cost of living in the world

The countries with the lowest costs of daily life are Pakistan, Egypt, Nepal, Bhutan and others. Here, less than $440 per month is enough to live comfortably.

However, these affordable countries are rarely considered ideal for immigration for a number of reasons, such as high poverty rates, limited access to health care, complex immigration laws, and military conflicts.

Those considering a move to a more affordable location should also consider quality of life and safety as priority factors.

There are many countries in the world with a higher level of security and relatively affordable cost of living, such as Portugal and Turkey. In addition, immigration in these countries is characterised by loyalty to foreigners who plan to move to them for permanent residence, offering to issue residence permits for investments or obtain citizenship on other, simplified grounds.

The countries that made the list of the cheapest to live in received low scores regarding the quality of living in them. The web service Livingcost.org assigns a final score by analysing a number of factors, including the Human Freedom Index, GDP per capita, life expectancy, environmental conditions and more. Below is a ranking of the 10 countries with the lowest cost of living in the world.

CountryCost of accommodation per month ($)Quality of life (0 to 100)
9Sri Lanka43344

Pakistan, located in southern Asia, is the country with the lowest cost of living. Despite the low cost of living, political and social tensions in some regions and limited access to high quality healthcare leave their mark on the quality of life and are good reasons to consider another country for possible relocation.

Egypt attracts with its rich history, culture, warm climate and resorts. The country’s economy is significantly influenced by the tourist flow, this factor affects the pricing of various categories depending on the region and season. At the same time, political and economic instability, problems in infrastructure and a high level of environmental pollution make foreigners question the choice of this country for permanent residence.

The mountainous state of Nepal in South Asia is famous for its natural beauty. It is a popular destination for tourism, but few foreigners move here for permanent residence. The reason is the high level of poverty, inaccessibility of medical services and deteriorating economic situation.

The small kingdom of Bhutan in South Asia has a unique approach to measuring national well-being through the concept of Gross National Happiness. This means that the government is primarily concerned with creating conditions for the well-being and security of the population, and considers the happiness of its citizens above the financial (GDP). In addition, the Global Peace Code ranks the country among the safest in the world. Despite this, the country remains unattractive to expats due to high levels of poverty and unemployment. In addition, Bhutan is one of the most closed countries in the world and it is difficult for foreigners to move in. For example, foreign nationals are not allowed to own property in Bhutan.

Located in northern Africa, Tunisia is one of the most developed countries in the Maghreb region. With a moderate cost of living and beautiful beaches, the country attracts the attention of tourists and expats. Security here is at an average level, as is the state of education and medicine. However, high unemployment, lack of natural resources and poverty do not create the best conditions for living in this country.

Libya is a country in North Africa rich in oil resources, which ensures low fuel and energy costs. However, political instability and social conflicts, as well as limited access to high quality health services, make it difficult to live there.

Burundi is among the poorest countries in Africa. Low economic development, high levels of poverty and unemployment, corruption, authoritarian rule, and limited access to education and healthcare make the country unattractive to expats.

Bangladesh, one of the most populous nations in the world, is characterised by low labour and production costs. A growing textile sector and beautiful natural scenery compensate to some extent for infrastructure problems and high poverty rates, but this is still not enough for a comfortable life.

Sri Lanka offers a relatively low cost of living in the midst of exotic nature with easy access to the ocean. However, it is a poor country where medicine and infrastructure are not very developed.

India closes the top ten countries with the lowest cost of living in the world. India’s rich cultural heritage and tourist attractions are juxtaposed with problems of pollution, inequality and limited access to health care.

Countries with high security and low cost of living

Given that the cheapest countries may not be the most attractive destinations for expats, let’s look at affordable countries from a safety perspective.

According to the Global Peace Index 2022, the safest countries to live in are recognised as Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland and others. However, all these countries are also on the list of the most expensive countries, where the cost of living is close to $2000 or more per month.

We took the first 15 countries in the ranking of the safest countries to live in according to the Global Peace Index and found out how much it costs to live in them per month. The most affordable on the list were Hungary, Japan, Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, where the cost of living per person per month does not exceed $1500.

CountryCost of living per month ($)Global Peace Index Security Index (out of 163)
6Czech Republic14778
9New Zealand18332

Hungary ranks 13th out of 163 countries in the ranking. This means that the state maintains a high level of security, including internal and external conflicts, as well as the likelihood of exposure to natural disasters. At the same time, Hungary is characterised by a relatively low cost of living — you will need about $950 per month to live. Budapest offers beautiful architecture and cultural events. Expats appreciate the affordability of housing and medical services, but may encounter language barriers.

Japan offers a high level of safety and quality of life. It ranks 10th in the ranking of safe countries. The average cost of living reaches $1064 per person, but it is worth considering this separately in relation to geography — the cost of living in large cities such as Tokyo can be high. Expats will appreciate the cultural heritage and unique way of life, but may struggle due to the difficult language environment and socialisation.

The cost of living in Croatia is lower than in many Central European countries — it reaches $1089 per month. Security is generally at a good level. Expats enjoy the Mediterranean climate and cultural diversity, but some may encounter employment problems when moving. Employers are required by law to first look for candidates among nationals and, if none are available, to hire foreigners.

Portugal attracts with its climate, culture and relative affordability. The cost of living here is lower than in Western Europe, and safety is rated highly — the country is ranked 6th out of 163. However, salaries in the country are not the highest — an optimal option for digital nomads and freelancers.

The top five affordable destinations among the safest countries is Slovenia, a combination of high level of security and relatively moderate cost of living. Living here costs $1212 per month. The health care and education system here is at a high level. The country’s picturesque natural scenery, historic cities and relaxed pace of life make it an attractive destination for expats.

The most affordable countries to live in Europe

Within Eastern Europe, we can identify the countries with the lowest cost of living per month in this part of the world. These include:

  • Turkey — $650
  • Northern Macedonia — $616
  • Moldova — $710
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina — $644
  • Romania — $770

Quality of life

There has been a gradual improvement in the quality of life among the countries represented, but Romania and Moldova are the most successful. Romania offers a high quality of life due to the variety of employment opportunities. Romania is a member of the EU, which determines some advantages: citizens have easy access to high quality health care, education, can work and live in other countries that are part of the Union. Bucharest, the capital of the country, is known as a dynamic and culturally rich city, and most expats head here. The city offers affordable housing prices and a wide range of entertainment options.


Romania is ranked 31st in the Global Peace Index country security ranking. It is the safest country among the five presented. Moldova is ranked 62nd, Turkey 145th, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia 58th and 36th respectively.

Immigration opportunities

Among the listed countries, Romania stands out as the only country that grants a digital nomad visa for working for foreign clients or freelancing. In order to obtain this visa, applicants need to show proof of a stable monthly income of at least €3700.

Turkey and Northern Macedonia have programmes for acquiring citizenship through investment. In North Macedonia, one such programme offers citizenship to foreigners in exchange for a donation of €200,000. It is important to note that the process of final approval of investor applications can take more than a year.

Turkey also provides a programme for acquiring citizenship through investment. Foreigners can purchase property worth $400,000 or choose one of four alternative investment options in order to obtain a Turkish passport.

A Turkish passport allows the holder to visit more than 100 countries visa-free, to obtain visas in the USA and Schengen countries for a five-year period, as well as to visit Turkey at any convenient time and stay there indefinitely. Obtaining a Turkish passport through investment takes 6 to 8 months.

The cheapest countries to live in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is attracting the attention of expats and digital nomads. One good reason is the affordability of living in this region. The local lifestyle, pleasant climate and scenic nature also attract expats.

The top five countries with the lowest cost of living in Southeast Asia include:

  • East Timor — $507
  • Indonesia — $569
  • Malaysia — $585
  • Philippines — $613
  • Vietnam — $620

Quality of life

Among all the countries presented, Malaysia and Vietnam stand out for their relatively high quality of life. According to the Livingcost.org service, they received scores of 60 and 48 out of 100 respectively. Beauty services such as spa treatments, accommodation in first-class hotels and active tourism are significantly cheaper here than in Europe.

These countries also attract foreigners with beautiful beaches, warm seas, lush tropical forests, delicious cuisine and a relaxed lifestyle. In addition, the capitals of Malaysia and Vietnam are major transport hubs, which facilitates access to cities in Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Among the disadvantages of living in these countries are polluted air in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur, as well as heavy traffic on the roads.


Among the other countries on the list, Malaysia and Indonesia lead the way in security issues. They are ranked 18th and 47th respectively in the Global Peace Index.

What distinguishes Southeast Asia from Europe is the stark difference in quality of life and cost of living between major cities and remote areas. For example, a comfortable stay in Kuala Lumpur requires $749, which is significantly higher than the average cost of living in the country. The same is true for Indonesia: the island of Bali is the most popular with foreigners, where the cost of living is $760.

Immigration opportunities

Malaysia and Indonesia provide special types of visas for foreign retirees and digital nomads who wish to stay in these countries for an extended period of time. The Philippines is also planning to introduce such a visa. Vietnam and East Timor do not yet have similar visas, but Vietnam allows most foreigners to stay between 15 and 90 days, depending on the country of origin.

Countries in the Americas with the lowest cost of living

Among the available countries in the Americas are:

  • Haiti — $509 a month
  • Paraguay — $556
  • Argentina — $590
  • Nicaragua — $654
  • Colombia — $673

Quality of life

Of the five proposed countries, Argentina is the leader in terms of the well-being of its citizens, with 53 points out of a possible 100. Colombia has a lower score of 37. Paraguay scores 38, while Nicaragua and Haiti have the same score of 29.

These countries have seen an increase in the quality of life over the last 10 years. The strongest progress is visible in Haiti, but it is still not enough to recommend this country for foreigners, despite the low cost of living.


Argentina also leads the way when it comes to security, with the country ranking 69th in the rankings. Colombia and Paraguay are considered less safe, ranking 144th and 77th respectively.

Haiti and Nicaragua are among the least safe countries in the world, it is not recommended to go on long journeys or relocate to these countries.

Immigration opportunities

As a country with a high level of security and quality of life, Argentina is favorable for expats. A special visa is available for foreign retirees, allowing them to reside in the country for at least a year. It is also possible to come on a digital nomad visa.

Emigrants who have chosen Argentina praise its rich cultural life, measured pace of life, affordability and variety of entertainment. Among the disadvantages are unreliable internet and communications, as well as the remote location of Argentina, which requires a minimum 10-hour flight from Buenos Aires to the USA or Europe.

The most affordable countries to live in Africa

In Africa, too, we can identify the top five countries with low cost of living:

  • Egypt with a cost of $378 per month
  • Burundi — $431
  • Libya — $428
  • Tunisia — $422
  • Algeria — $443

In this list, Tunisia and Algeria stand out with the highest level of security and quality of life. In these countries, the population speaks French better than English. Thus, these destinations may be of interest to French-speaking digital nomads and retirees due to immigration policies.

How to move to a more affordable country for a better life?

In most countries, it is possible to obtain a long-term visa and residence permit for the purpose of work, study or family reunification. However, these options are not suitable for retirees, remote workers and digital nomads who want to travel in their spare time.

A residence permit for the purpose of work, study or family reunification usually requires a permanent stay in the country. For example, foreign workers and students in Europe must reside in your country for at least 183 days per year in order to be able to extend their stay.

A second passport can help ensure freedom of movement and avoid visa problems. A person with a second passport of an EU country can freely travel to more than 170 countries and reside in other countries of the Union for as long as they wish.

A Caribbean passport allows travel to more than 140 countries and residence without restriction in any CARICOM member state. St Lucia passport holders can also stay in the UK for up to 180 days. Both passports allow visa-free travel to Argentina with the ability to stay there for up to 90 days. The fastest way to obtain a second Caribbean passport is through investment. Foreign investors can obtain a St Lucia passport in 3-4 months with a minimum contribution of $100,000. Other Caribbean countries also grant citizenship through investment. These are Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Grenada.

In EU countries, the process of obtaining a passport takes from 1 to 10 years. However, no state allows obtaining citizenship through investment. Foreigners can only invest in a residence permit and then apply for citizenship through naturalization.

Maltese citizenship is available to foreigners through naturalization within 1 or 3 years. Applicants must fulfill three investment conditions to apply for a passport:

  1. Contribute to the National Development and Social Protection Fund.
  2. Make a charitable donation to a non-governmental organization.
  3. To rent or purchase a property.

At the beginning of the process, the participant applies for a residence permit and invests in a property. If renting is chosen, the value of the home must be at least €12,000 per month. If buying a home, the value of the home must be €700,000 or more.

The amount of the contribution to the Fund depends on the timing: if the participant applies for a passport within 1 year, the participant pays €750,000, and if he/she applies after 3 years, the participant pays €600,000. The amount of the charitable donation in both cases is €10,000.

Investors who prefer to rent a home must enter into a new 5-year lease for a minimum of €16,000 per month before applying for citizenship. They end up renting a home in Malta for 6 or 8 years, depending on the term chosen.

It is possible to obtain a residence permit in Europe through investment in Greece, Italy, Portugal.

Imperial & Legal supports you through all stages of obtaining residency and then, if you wish, citizenship in your chosen country. We have successfully assisted clients from all over the world and have a wealth of experience in immigration. Contact us to discuss the options that best suit you.

Frequently asked questions on the cheapest countries to live in

Which countries are the best places for people to live?

According to a Livingcost.org study, the highest quality of life indicators are observed in Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark, Liechtenstein and Norway. The cost of living here ranges from $1842-$3285 per month per person.

Which countries are the most expensive to live in?

According to crowdsourcing services, Singapore, Switzerland and Monaco top the list of the most expensive countries to live in.

Which country is the most expensive to live in?

According to the web service Livingcost.org, the highest cost of living is recorded in Monaco. The amount is $5621 per month.

Which English-speaking country is the cheapest to live in?

Among the countries where English is the official language, the cheapest place to live is Pakistan. The cost of living here is $335 per month.

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