7 International Cities Where You Could Live in Luxury Without Breaking the Bank

Consider Not-America

By AnnaMarie Houlis ·
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The idea of picking up and transporting your life to another part of the world can be daunting. But if you can summon all your strength, language skills, restlessness and sense of adventure all at once, you could find yourself somewhere tropical or ancient or delicious—and living like royalty. Expats at all corners of the globe live in luxury for next to nothing. If you’re open to a big change (and if there were ever a time...), consider pioneering your own roving Lost Generation in…

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Chiang Mai Thailand Street Market Expat Luxury Living
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Chiang Mai, situated in the north of the country between the Myanmar and Laos borders, is charming. It’s also recognized as the digital nomad capital of the world. An echo of peace permeates the city, emanating from the many ornate Buddhist temples lying within the old city walls. Food stalls saturate the air with smoke, selling chicken skewers and sausage and Pad Thai and seared pla pao, erupting with smells that could alone sate one’s appetite. And you could eat most of it for under a U.S. dollar. In fact, the general cost of an entire two-bedroom house (and all of your utilities) would cost you about $500 a month or less. The exchange rate, after all, is one Thai Baht to .032 U.S. dollars.

2. Athens, Greece 

Athens Greece Acropolis Parthenon Mountain Expat Luxury Living
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Greece is one of those countries that, if you haven’t yet been, you wouldn’t believe it actually exists beyond the picture on postcards. Athens, the capital, boasts fifth-century BC landmarks like the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel crowned with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. By comparison, the cost of living in Athens is far lower than in New York—that means your average meal at a restaurant will cost you just about $12, you could get a monthly transportation pass for just about $37 a month, and your rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center wouldn’t cost you more than about $300 or $400.

3. Marrakech, Morocco 

Marrakech Morocco Luxury Expat Living
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Picture this: You wake up in an urban Moroccan oasis, soothed by mint tea on the sun-swathed patio of your own opulent riad with a pool painted an azure blue, shaded by plentiful palm trees. You’re enveloped in the smell of street vendors cooking up tagines. Or you can cook your own stuff with $10 worth of groceries. Your riad costs you just over $400 a month, and you navigate the city with a monthly rail pass that you bought for just about $15. The exchange rate sits at .11 cents for every Moroccan Dirham, so you’ll have a large budget for weekend spa tratments at the hamams.

4. Medellín, Colombia 

Medillín Columbia Mountains Escobar Expats
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Come for the weather; stay for the fact that you can live like royalty. Medellín is recognized as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its temperate weather and annual flower festival. The city sits in Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province, located in the Aburrá Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America. You could eat a full meal at a restaurant there for just $4, get yourself a nice bottle of wine for just $10, navigate the city for just $21 per month and rent a three-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city center for just over $500 a month (a one-bedroom would only cost you just over $300). The exchange rate is one Colombian peso to .00036 U.S. dollar. Though the city is notorious for having been the murder capital of the world during the reign of terror of Pablo Escobar, crime rates have dropped significantly in the years since his death.

5. San Pedro, Belize 

San Pedro Belize Beach Expat Luxury
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Expats have flocked to San Pedro, a small town in the south part of the Ambergis Caye in northern Belize, for years. Its celebrated seafood, unparalleled diving sites and sandy shores make the beach town worth the visit alone, but the Bacalar Chico National and the Chac Balam Mayan ruins to the north make it that much more enticing. San Pedro is also home to Ambergris Caye’s only airstrip, which offers regular domestic flights to destinations like Caye Caulker and Corozal, should you decide to explore more of the country. The Great Blue Hole, a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize and UNESCO World Heritage Site is what attracts most tourists, but the inexpensive cost of living and island time lifestyle draw in expats for the long haul. Your dollar is doubled in Belize, and you could get yourself a beach house for about $900 per month. You could pretty much walk anywhere and everywhere and cars don’t really drive on the island too much—most people take golf carts around, so your transportation costs are a non-issue. Also, English is the national language, so it’s an easy place to settle for expats.

6. La Paz, Bolivia 

La Paz Bolivia Capital Mountain Skyline Expat
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La Paz rests on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 3,500 meters above sea level, stretching to El Alto city in the highlands with the snow-capped, 6,438 meter-high Mt. Illimani that paints the horizon. It’s also the seat of government and the de facto national capital of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, which makes it the third-most populous city in Bolivia. The city champions culture by way of art and gastronomy—you could eat a nice meal at a restaurant for just $2 or cook at home in your $300-ish apartment in the center of it all. Getting around the city is simple, too, since La Paz boasts the world’s longest and highest urban cable car network, the Mi Teleférico.

7. Prague, Czech Republic 

Prague Czech Republic Europe Skyline Expat Luxury Living
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The Vltava River bisects this capital city, nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires” for its tapering conical and pyramidal skyscrapers. Vibrant baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock define the Old Town Square, where you could live for just under $800 a month. Or you could board up just outside the hustle and bustle for about $500 to $600 per month. While most of Europe uses the Euro, the Czech Republic has its own currency, which means that prices of pretty much everything are lower than its neighboring countries. Prague is actually ranked number 44 on the Nomad Index of the best cities in the world for expats.

AnnaMarie Houlis

AnnaMarie Houlis excels in sleeping in middle seats, occupying shared armrests and asking strangers questions to which they have no answers because they're not watching her airplane movie.

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