The Three Best Places to Live in Southeast Asia

InternationalLiving.com reports on three top countries in Southeast Asia where life is exhilarating, comfortable and affordable.

Southeast Asia may be far away but a new report from International Living reveals that it’s a lot easier to live there than many potential transplants may imagine. It’s easier to get around, to get needed goods and services, and to find a community that welcomes expats.

It’s also extremely affordable, with a cost of living in some places up to 75% less than in the U.S. and Canada.

Expat Lina Goldberg moved to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, three years ago. “I feel like I have discovered the secret to a laid-back lifestyle. Life here is almost entirely devoid of the high-pressure stress I endured when I worked in a cubicle in New York,” she reports.

In Phnom Penh, a one-bedroom apartment rents for between $150 and $500 per month, depending on the level of luxury. A frugal expat can live here on less than $1,000 per month, although most expats on the ground say they prefer to budget a bit more.

Cambodia is a relatively new frontier for expats from North America—and no question it’s an adventuresome sort who thrives there. But with its smiling people, entrepreneurial opportunities, and rock-bottom pricing, it’s got plenty to recommend it, the International Living report says.

Bangkok, Thailand has long been a mecca for expats seeking a mix of adventure and western conveniences, along with a low cost of living and excellent health care. It’s possible to live comfortably there, part-time or year-round. From the tropical climate and the tempting cuisine to the welcoming culture and the pulsing nightlife, there’s something for everyone, according to International Living. The city is also a major travel hub, making it an ideal jumping-off point for the rest of Asia—which can be accessed easily and affordably.

An hour’s flight from Bangkok is the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand—home to about 40,000 foreigners.

Here, $2,000 a month buys royal treatment and a relaxed lifestyle among a friendly local population with a vibrant expatriate community. The crime rate is low, and there is easy access to excellent medical care.

Expat Denis Gray says that Chiang Mai remains one of the most livable places in Asia.

Seven years ago, Denis and his wife built their retirement home near the city. “Both of us have no regrets so far. We love the place,” he says.

“This is arguably the cheapest place on earth to live well” is the way a Huffington Post blog put it, rating Chiang Mai number five in the world’s top 10 retirement havens for 2013. “I live like a king for $2,000 a month,” says an expat friend of Denis. Numbeo, the online database that tracks cost of living in cities around the world, says consumer prices in Chiang Mai are 59% lower than in Boston.

Read more about the three top expat havens in Asia, here: Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia: Three Great Destinations to Live in Southeast Asia.

See a slideshow of photos from Asia, here: In Pictures: The Top Three Places to Live in Southeast Asia.

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For more than 30 years, InternationalLiving.com has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving.com provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. InternationalLiving.com has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

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