Quit Your Job: 5 Countries Where You Can Live For Under $1,500 A Month – Laura Begley Bloom


More Americans than ever are quitting their jobs and moving abroad or retiring overseas — 8.7 million, to be exact, according to State Department figures. And one of the biggest driving factors is the lower cost of living in other countries.

The editors at International Living recently came out with a list of the five best places where a couple can live on under $30,000 a year, or $2,500 a month. And guess what? If you’re single, it’s even cheaper. Take Cambodia, where you can live comfortably for just $1,150 a month. The most expensive place on the list — which spanned from Southeast Asia to Europe to Latin America — came in at just $1,500 a month for a single person.



Why It’s Great: For the third year in a row, affordable and exotic Cambodia claimed the top spot in the cost-of-living category of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index. “Cambodia may be far away, but that’s arguably the only downside. This is a place where you can instantly upgrade your lifestyle while you slash your cost of living,” says Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living.


Top Spot: The place to be? Phnom Penh. “French colonial buildings, wide leafy boulevards, gilded pagodas and palaces — it’s beautiful,” says Stevens. “And it’s also a great jumping-off point for exploring the region.” There is a cool local vibe in Phnom Penh, with its vibrant arts community and chic shops. And there’s nothing like going to the street corner in the morning to grab a fresh coconut and a newspaper.

The Cost: While the cost of living in Cambodia may be one of the lowest in the world, the standard of living is high. In Phnom Penh, you can find a one-bedroom, one-bathroom rental apartment with a balcony in the center of the city for a mere $250 per month. Utilities (water, electricity, garbage, cooking gas, drinking water) average around $80 to $100 a month. Dinner at a high-quality international restaurant costs $10 a person. And $200 a month will keep your fridge filled with food, fresh fruit and vegetables. A single person can live here for $1,150 a month — or less. A couple can live well on a monthly budget of $2,000.


Why It’s Great: Panama draws a thriving international business community as well as expats who are attracted to its cities, beaches and ease of living. The currency is the U.S. dollar, and there are many English speakers, as well as a well-trained medical community. Plus, it’s convenient: The international airport offers direct connections to many other parts of the world.

Los Destiladeros Beach in Pedasi, Panama. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Top Spot: At the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasí is a small fishing town about a five-hour drive from Panama City.  “For tranquil, rural living and ocean breezes, lazy Pedasí on Panama’s Pacific is worth a visit,” says Stevens. “It’s relatively remote, but the small English-speaking community has a very friendly reputation and for beachside living, you’d be hard-pressed to beat this surf-town’s low prices.”

The Cost: The cost of living is a big attraction in all of Panama and especially in Pedasí. You can eat lunch out for $3 to $7 per person and dinner for $6 to $12 per person. A beer is $1 to $2 a bottle, car insurance is just $600 a year and you can hire a housekeeper for just $15 for a half day and handymen to help with your home for $5 an hour. A single person can live on a modest budget of $1,391 in Pedasí, while a couple can live on as little as $1,665 a month.

Looking over Cuenca’s UNESCO-protected historical center and its surrounding mountains with a view of the towers of the Santo Domingo Church. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)