The world's cheapest cities for expats

  • couple planning their budget
Published last week

For years, many global reports have unveiled some of the world's most expensive cities for expats, regarding rent, leisure and daily expenses in particular. If you're looking to move abroad on a budget, whether you're planning to study, work, set up a business or retire, have a look at some of the world's cheapest cities according to a study by Nomadlist.


Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Wayne0216 /

Located in the south of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is far from being a top expat destination. By moving there, however, you're likely to enjoy an unparalleled quality of life along with some 2.7 million inhabitants. The city can boast of its huge parks surrounded by impressive skyscrapers, as well as its tourist attractions and narrow streets lined with pleasant cafes. Kaohsiung is not only safe and welcoming but also a cheap city both for solo expats and families. On average, a family of four can survive on a monthly budget of USUS$ 1,377, including rent. Solo expats can get away with USUS$ 592 per month. Renting a studio downtown, for example, costs around USUS$ 259 per month. Regarding day to day expenses, count US$ 1.62 for a coffee or beer and US$ 2.27 for eating out.

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai, Thailand
KoBoZaa /

While most expats in Thailand choose to relocate to megacities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai also has a lot to give. Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai is an incredible artistic and cultural hub with great natural diversity. Thailand is a popular destination for foreign retirees in particular for its low cost of living. If you're a solo expat in Chiang Rai, count US$ 534 per month, including rent – US$ 187 per month for a studio in the city centre. For a couple with two children, US$ 1,160 per month on average is enough. Chiang Rai is also an attractive city for digital nomads thanks to its quality of life and the availability of modern coworking spaces for some US$ 250 per month.

Da Nang

Da Nang, Vietnam

World-famous for its idyllic beaches and historical heritage, Da Nang is a top expat destination in Vietnam. As a coastal city, Da Nang can also boast of its economic growth coupled with a dynamic labour market. Regarding leisure and tourist attractions in Da Nang, you can choose from a wide range of museums, parks, pagodas, shrines and mountains. As a long-term solo expat, you can get away with US$ 811 per month on average, including rent. For a studio in the downtown area, count some US$ 475 per month. If you'd instead relocate to Da Nang with your family, US$ 1,860 per month is more than enough. Freelancers and digital nomads can choose from many coworking spaces for about US$ 87 per month. Regarding day to day expenses, while a coffee costs US$ 1.01 and a beer US$ 1.07, count US$ 3.03 for dining out


Lviv, Ukraine
Ruslan Lytvyn /

Located in western Ukraine, near the Polish border, Lviv is far from being a favourite expat city in Europe. However, Lviv is a major cultural hub in Ukraine with more than 730,000 inhabitants and incredible diversity. If you are looking for a change, you might find the lifestyle you have always dreamed of in Lviv, not to mention the low cost of living. Solo expats can manage a whole month with US$ 563 including US$ 200 per month to rent a studio in the city centre. For those looking to relocate with their family, US$ 992 per month should be enough. Digital nomads will be delighted to find cosy coworking spaces for around US$ 58 a month. Besides, count US$ 1.09 for a beer, US$ 0.76 for a coffee and US$ 3.63 for eating out. On the other hand, income tax can be harsh for expats working in Ukraine – US$ 2,500 on an annual income not exceeding US$ 50,000, US$ 5,000 for those earning US$ 100,000 and US$ 12,500 on a yearly income of US$ 250,000.


Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico
Luke.Travel /

About 200 kilometres north of the Mexican capital city lies Santiago de Queretaro, also known as Queretaro. Queretaro is a rhythmic city with a pleasant climate, combining safety and quality of life. Also, Queretaro is cheaper compared to Mexico City. As a solo expat, you can get away with US$ 544 per month, including US$ 255 per month to rent a studio in the city centre. A family of four can live on US$ 1,251 per month. Besides, count US$ 1.02 for a coffee, US$ 1.53 for a beer and US$ 3.06 for eating out. Queretaro also offers a wide range of coworking spaces that cost around US$ 67 per month.


Kathmandu, Nepal
Constantin Stanciu /

Kathmandu is the ideal city for those seeking a new cultural experience abroad. With many historical and religious sites and its ancient architecture, Kathmandu is a bustling city with thousands of tourists visiting all year round. Offering a pleasant and traditional atmosphere, Kathmandu is perfect for those living on a budget, including expat families. For example, a long-term solo expat can get away with US$ 415, including a US$ 134 monthly rent for a studio in the city centre. A family of four can live on US$ 809 a month. Regarding digital nomads, US$ 630 per month is more than enough, not to mention the wide range of coworking spaces for US$ 55 per month. Other than that, count US$ 0.60 for a coffee, US$ 2.24 for a beer and US$ 1.71 for eating out.