#1 for Cost of Living: Vietnam
Pristine white-sand beaches…pine forests amid temperate mountains…street-side baguette sellers…corner cafes…pastel-coloured churches and mulberry wine… You’ll find it all in this fascinating country.
Foreign and alluring it may be… Exotic and enticing…without a doubt. But this “otherness” doesn’t mean it’s not comfortable. Welcoming locals and a thriving expat community are on hand to help you find your feet—plus there’s an abundance of affordable, comfortable and fully furnished rentals available at short-term rates…and that’s just the start of the low-cost, good living on offer here.
Aussie couple Sharyn and Tim make their home in Ho Chi Minh City where they pay $900 a month for their modern, two-bedroom, fully furnished, air-conditioned apartment—that includes Pay TV, WiFi, the use of a gym and the cost of a cleaner two days a week. The couple rent a motorbike for $55 a month and running costs average $2 a week.
Expat Sarah, who lives in the beachside city of Da Nang, makes her home in a large, bright, studio apartment, a 10-minute walk to the beach. She pays $450 a month rent which covers a weekly cleaning service as well as water charges, Pay TV and internet. Electricity runs her an extra $90 a month. Fresh local produce can be had for under a dollar a kilo and meals out on world class local cuisine average around $10 a couple.
With such low day-to-day costs, you can afford to splash out on the little luxuries on offer here too. Indulge in decadent pastries from the local patisserie for $3 or a relaxing massage for $4. A trip for two to the opera, with drinks, can be enjoyed for $74 or spend just $25 on an afternoon tea of tempting treats including hot scones, smoked salmon sandwiches and lamingtons at a gourmet hotspot.
#1 for Healthcare: Malaysia
If you need to see a specialist, Malaysia, the country that took top spot in the healthcare category has a simple system…
You don’t need a referral from your GP and you don’t need to wait. You just decide whom you want to see, be it a heart, orthopaedics, gastro, ophthalmologist or plastic surgeon, arrive at the hospital of your choice and register. (This takes 20 minutes and all you need to complete the registration is a copy of your passport.) Once the paperwork is completed, you’ll be led to your specialist’s door.
People from all over the world flock to Malaysia for medical care—not just because the standard is high, (this is home to some of the best surgeons in the world, typically trained in the U.K., U.S. or Australia and English-speaking), but also because it’s affordable—seeing a surgeon can cost as little as $16. A large, private room in a world-class hospital can cost as little as $40 a night.
“Doctors are so cheap here. I visited a doctor the other day and it cost just $9.70,” says expat Christine, 56. “I haven’t seen a dentist yet, but my friend had a crown put in recently. She spent $388 for the crown and a whole lot of other stuff that she had to have done. Dental care costs about a third of the price you’d pay back home and you get really good work.”
#1 for Climate: Colombia
From lush, green, mountain-trail coffee plantations to sparkling crystal beaches dotting breathtaking coastline, Colombia, the country that claimed the top spot for the world’s best climate is the second most bio-diverse in the world. That means there’s something for everyone and finding whatever climate your heart desires won’t be a problem here.
In coastal cities, warm, tropical weather offers average daytime highs touching 30s C and evening temperatures in the upper 20s C. If it’s a more temperate climate you’re after, you’ll find that too. Medellin, the country’s second largest city, sits at over 1,500 metres above sea level and the climate at this altitude has earned it the nickname “the City of Eternal Spring,” with daytime highs in the upper 20s C to mid-30s C and evening temperatures that dip down to the mid-teens C every day of the year.
Little wonder that Colombia plays host to 20% of all species on earth and some 1,889 species of birds. There’s jungle and rainforest borders and among the country’s abundance of natural gems is a river of five colours, dubbed a ‘liquid rainbow’.
All this gorgeous scenery is a backdrop to one of the best things about Colombia –its warm, accepting people. Happy to share their homeland with foreigners, they will welcome you into their communities with music, dancing, local cuisine and colourful festivals.