7 Cheapest Cities in Asia to Live in 2022
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Many expats turn to the cheapest cities in Asia as doing so would typically allow them to stretch the value of their dollars, pounds, or euros by about five-fold.
There are many different working environments available in Asian cities. There is a choice for everyone, whether they favor living in a large metropolis, near a beach, or in a more straightforward rural setting. These days, a lot of online opportunities have sprouted. All you need is a laptop and good internet connection and you’re good to go.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Canggu, Indonesia
Anyone seeking a quiet life will enjoy Canggu, a small beachfront village in South Bali. It is a place where native Balinese, Australian, and European expats live together, thanks to the amiable nature of the Balinese people plus the fact that the Balinese economy depends heavily on tourism to support local companies.
The expat community and networking opportunities that are available in Canggu are undoubtedly the top benefits of working and living here. There are Facebook groups specifically for business-minded expats, but it’s best if you can join a co-working facility where you can interact with other people in person. This will help improve your professional life, and if you don’t mind, even your personal life as well.
You could end up working with professionals in their own fields who are more than eager to assist you with whatever you need for your company in exchange for possibly only the cost of your own job services.
The food in Canggu is also incredible. You can indulge in an authentic Italian pizza or order the classic rice dish Nasi Goreng from Indonesia at one of the many eateries that represent different countries. You can enjoy smoothie bowls, surfing, and yoga classes in Canggu.
Cheap flights operate often from Australia to Canggu, but if you are coming from the US or Europe, you have to be prepared to spend some time in Singapore or another large airport hub.
Obtaining visas might be challenging unless you can be sponsored by an Indonesian national. If this is not an option, your best alternative is a social-cultural visa.
You can pay a nominal fee to an organization to sponsor you and manage all paperwork and travel to embassies on your behalf. Nevertheless, you will be obliged to leave and re-enter the country after 180 days of residing in Bali, which isn’t ideal given that travel to and from the island may occasionally be pricey.
In terms of safety, Canggu is relatively secured by Southeast Asian standards. Perhaps the largest threat you could run into in this area is getting smacked by a scooter. Just make sure you’re insured before you travel.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, also popularly called Saigon, is recognized as the first global hot spot for digital nomads. Once you get past the frenzied traffic, you’ll notice that life here is a balance of serenity and disarray, with inhabitants’ daily activities really moving at a moderate pace.
Living in Ho Chi Minh City has a lot of other benefits, one of which is the accessibility of automobile services like Grab car. This app even lets you reserve a motorcycle taxi if you’re looking for a thrill.
You will undoubtedly find an area that fits what you are seeking for because the city is separated into districts. Some of them are more developed in terms of big shopping malls, culture, or cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh continues to be a city steeped in tradition and history despite its blatantly modern surroundings. You will be welcomed with an unique cultural experience, delectable street fare, and a vibrant social scene here.
Given that Ho Chi Minh is one of the biggest coffee importers in the world, it is the ideal location for entrepreneurs or digital nomads to set up shop and conduct business from one of its many cafés. The city boasts excellent public Wi-Fi availability and fast internet connections. Co-working spaces are also widely available if you’d want to work more comfortably without incurring a hefty coffee cost.
Given that it shares the same alphabet as English and doesn’t have genders, plurals, or verb endings, Vietnamese is a comparatively simple language to learn.
Meanwhile, being honest, compassionate, and helpful are all qualities that Vietnamese people are renowned for.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Ho Chi Minh is estimated to cost 50,000 Vietnamese dong while a mid-range restaurant can charge 594,376 dong for a three-course meal for two, according to global cost of living data aggregator Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Ho Chi Minh’s city center is at about 121.7 million dong, while that outside of the area is at roughly 48 million dong. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost 12.5 million dong and 7.3 million dong on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Ho Chi Minh for one person can hit 11.5 million dong on average, while it can cost about 41.3 million dong for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Chiang Mai, Thailand
It is for good reason that Chiang Mai consistently tops lists of the greatest cities in Asia and the entire world for geographically mobile employees. Living big for very little money is possible in this little metropolis. Chiang Mai is one of the cheapest cities in Asia and the entire world to live in while still offering top-notch amenities.
Visiting elephant sanctuaries, playing paintball, trekking in the highlands, and going temple hopping are a few more low-cost things you may do in your free time. You could also easily spend a weekend in Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam because Chiang Mai is a convenient place from which to enter and exit the country.
There are thousands of members in Chiang Mai’s major expat and digital nomad communities who are open and friendly to all newcomers. Meet-ups, symposiums, and tours of nearby attractions are the usual events held. With high-speed internet available across the city, the coworking spaces there are of the highest caliber.
Young entrepreneurs and digital nomads can make a home at any one of the many co-working spaces or late-night cafes that are available. You will find other incredibly successful businesspeople working at these coworking spaces, making it a great place for networking.
With one of the lowest rates of crime in the world against expats, Chiang Mai is also regarded for being one of the safest cities. Similar to Canggu, you only need to pay more attention while on the road.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Chiang Mai is estimated to cost 55 Thai baht while a mid-range restaurant can charge 500 baht for a three-course meal for two, according to Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Chiang Mai’s city center is at 57,000 baht, while that outside of the area is at 34,333 baht. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost 10,917 baht and 7,107 baht on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Chiang Mai for one person can hit 17,028 baht on average, while it can cost about 61,066 baht for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, is a multi-ethnic melting pot that embraces all world religions and traditions. You’ll also find some of the tallest buildings in the world weaved together with the city’s old town architecture, which is another gem for aficionados of big cities.
With a route that connects to the city’s international airport, Kuala Lumpur’s light rail public transportation system is both affordable and incredibly effective. Since the city is also a major hub for international flights, getting in and out is not too difficult.
Thankfully, applying for a visa to Malaysia is simple. The potential downside you might encounter in Kuala Lumpur is the lack of a lot of entertainment choices or stuff to do.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is estimated to cost 15 Malaysian ringgit while a mid-range restaurant can charge 100 ringgit for a three-course meal for two, according to Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Kuala Lumpur’s city center is at 10,141 ringgit, while that outside of the area is at 5,519 ringgit. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost 1,940 ringgit and 1,246 ringgit on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Kuala Lumpur for one person can hit 2,218 ringgit on average, while it can cost about 7,978 ringgit for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, is one of the Southeast Asian cities that is growing the fastest, and yet is still surrounded by nature. The east side of the city is bordered by the Red River, and the area is covered in sizable parks and lakes.
Vietnam is another country with influences from both China and France due to its interesting political history. You could even say that it’s more vibrant and intriguing than Ho Chi Minh in this regard. People also remark that moving through a museum is what it feels like to travel through the downtown streets of Hanoi.
In Hanoi, there is a thriving local street food scene where you may sit down and enjoy your meal on small plastic seats. Of course, there are certainly a lot of upscale eateries, but it’s also crucial to get a feel for the local way of life.
Generally speaking, Vietnamese visas allow you to stay in the nation for 30 days, with the option of additional extensions that you can request by paying a company to assist you with. Do gather more information before you make the final leap because it can unfortunately turn out to be an expensive undertaking.
Working remotely from Hanoi has its drawbacks, but the inconsistent internet speeds are the biggest one. Outside of the home, it is challenging to locate cafes or workspaces that are suitable for working. This stands in stark contrast to Ho Chi Minh City, which is unfortunate because in nearly every other respect, Hanoi is a virtual haven for digital nomads.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Hanoi is estimated to cost 50,000 dong while a mid-range restaurant can charge 475,000 dong for a three-course meal for two, according to Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Hanoi’s city center is at roughly 56.3 million dong, while that outside of the area is at 31.4 million dong. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost 8.2 million dong and about 5.6 million dong on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Hanoi for one person can hit about 10.5 million dong on average, while it can cost 37.4 million dong for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The capital city of Cambodia is still relatively underdeveloped when compared to other Southeast Asian cities, despite the fact that more and more structures in the Western style are popping up there.
This is the reason Phnom Penh is so charming and alluring. While new construction and contemporary eateries and cafes appear to be opening every day, several temples, markets, and the Royal Palace all transport you to a different time. Phnom Penh is unlike any other city in Asia and is absolutely unique.
Due to its relatively low-income tax rate, Phnom Penh has emerged as a top destination for young entrepreneurs in recent years. You might be able to save a lot of money over the years by opening a business there. Additionally, Phnom Penh is one of the few Asian locations on this list that is ideal for someone wishing to work for a foreign company.
There are numerous networking opportunities thanks to the thriving expat and digital nomad communities. While maintaining an equal level of engagement with locals, foreigners in this city appear to speak with one another frequently.
The only negative aspect of Phnom Penh is that it can occasionally be a little nastier than other Asian cities. Even while there isn’t much serious crime directed at foreigners, you should nevertheless take extra measures because petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching are pretty prevalent.
In all of Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s visa application procedure is one of the friendliest to foreign nationals. Upon arrival, you can purchase a business visa for only US$35 with a validity period of 30 days. Once it expires, you can extend it for up to a year for another fee. You can open a business in the nation with the help of this visa.
Phnom Penh is a little city, but it’s definitely worth the effort, even if getting there can be a bit tricky and requires a stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, or another big city.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Phnom Penh is estimated to cost US$3 while a mid-range restaurant can charge US$23.5 for a three-course meal for two, according to Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Phnom Penh’s city center is at US$2,339.5, while that outside of the area is at US$1,626. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost US$543 and US$322 on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Phnom Penh for one person can hit US$631 on average, while it can cost about US$2,223.5 for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Hangzhou, China
The city of Hangzhou, often known as the Tea Capital of China, is situated in the eastern Zhejiang Province and is a great location for both nomads and foreigners.
The ingenuity in China is largely responsible for the country having the second-largest economy in the world today. Large corporations like tech firm Baidu Inc. and e-commerce company Alibaba have seen tremendous success and amassed billions of dollars in net worth.
In Hangzhou, there is a neighborhood known as the Internet Dream Town where the government invests money and resources in new online firms, and this start-up culture is pervasive across the city. Anyone with a strong business concept may set up shop here and have access to a wealth of resources, including app developers, freelancers, and other professionals.
Hangzhou might be more than 2,000 years old but the city is quite luxurious, stunning, and very rich in culture. You can also find a simple getaway from the bustling metropolis with a sizable lake and gardens to be discovered in the west of the city.
Although China’s so called Great Firewall restricts access to several websites, including Google, Facebook, and YouTube, it still has incredibly fast internet speeds, and this is just one more way that China is demonstrating its entrepreneurial tendencies. Local Chinese enterprises are able to become well-known and prosper in the absence of outside competition because of the firewall, which is partially set up to safeguard ideas that originate in the nation.
Cost of Living
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Hangzhou is estimated to cost 27.5 yuan (US$3.95) while a mid-range restaurant can charge 200 yuan for a three-course meal for two, according to Numbeo.
In terms of real estate, the cost per square meter for buying an apartment within Hangzhou’s city center is at 58,446 yuan, while that outside of the area is at 32,800 yuan. Rent for one-bedroom apartments inside and outside the city center cost 3,567 yuan and 2,089 yuan on average per month, respectively.
The overall monthly cost of living in Hangzhou for one person can hit 3,877 yuan on average, while it can cost about 14,475 yuan for a family of four, both excluding rent.
Cheapest Cities in Asia: Final Thoughts
Do note that such living costs can drastically change depending on your own lifestyle choices, but so far Asia truly lives up to the reputation in terms of having a high standard of living at the lowest price.
You will discover that you are capable of creating a lovely and sustainable home for yourself once you push aside misconceptions and pre-conceived judgements as you explore the cheapest cities in Asia.
If you are curious about various cultures and mouthwatering cuisine, this is the region of the world for you. If all you desire is to reduce expensive expenses and taxes while increasing your income, it’s also a wonderful fit.
If you want to learn more about investments, you can read our articles such as best investment options for Australian expats in 2021, what are the best investment options for Canadian expats in 2021, and what are the best investment options for UK expats in 2022.
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