If moving to an exotic island to escape the hustle and bustle has been one of those things you dreamed about, well here’s your chance to live a life of luxury for less.
And Australians are flocking overseas to enjoy the extravagant fine dining, culture-rich lifestyle, luxurious living and bask in balmy tropical climate.
Here, International Living has rounded up the six big cities where people can live better than they could at home for a stunningly low cost of living.
If moving to an exotic island to escape the hustle and bustle has been one of those things you dreamed about, well here’s your chance to live a life of luxury for less (pictured Siem Reap, Cambodia)
Also known as the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai has been a popular destination with tourists and expats for generations
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Also known as the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai has been a popular destination with tourists and expats for generations.
And as the largest city in northern Thailand, it’s an exciting place to live, offering top-class dining, culture-rich lifestyle and famous festivals throughout the year.
Surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, Chiang Mai’s cooler climate makes it a favourite among travellers.
The Thai people are warm and welcoming, but the low costs are a huge advantage of this beautiful city.
A couple could live comfortably on a monthly budget of between $2,470 to $3,100.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Once famed as ‘the Pearl of Asia,’ the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh has lots to offer expats – a stunningly low cost of living, lively markets and a thriving food scene, set to a backdrop of colonial French architecture and Buddhist temples.
The city’s beauty and its people’s warmth attracts Australians and for the avid golfer, Cambodia has a number of extraordinarily attractive courses – some even enlisted help from famous names in golf including Sir Nick Faldo, IMG and Nicklaus Design.
Not only is the weather great for a round of golf throughout the year but the courses are set to idyllic backdrops.
Living here, Australians can afford luxuries beyond reach back home.
‘The total cost of living for a single person living well in one of the nicest neighbourhoods is about $1,500 a month. A couple could spend around $2,000.
The Cambodian capital Phnom Penh has lots to offer expats – a stunningly low cost of living, lively markets and a thriving food scene, set to a backdrop of colonial French architecture
As the largest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is an exciting place to live, offering top-class dining, culture-rich lifestyle and famous festivals throughout the year
Known for its French colonial architecture and rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences, Vietnam’s capital Hanoi has maintained its traditional culture and charm while still being a modern city.
For every glitzy shopping centre, there’s an incense-filled temple nearby and cultural influences of the past are still part of the modern-day fabric of life here, from revered Confucian monuments to trendy French restaurants.
It’s the political hub of the country, as well as the cultural and historical centre. Plus, Hanoi has one of the lowest costs of living of any major city in Southeast Asia.
International Living’s Vietnam correspondent Wendy Justice and her husband David live in the Ba Dinh District – also known as the French Quarter – with its wide, tree-lined streets, French colonial architecture and lush, verdant parks.
Their typical monthly budget averages around $1,500 and rarely reaches $2,000 -but that includes travel in the region and little luxuries like fine wine or evenings out.
Vietnam’s capital Hanoi has maintained its traditional culture and charm while still being a modern city
Penang’s largest city George Town is home to a vibrant arts scene, eclectic architecture and some of the best street food in the world
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Located on a tropical island off the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, George Town is the capital of Penang.
Despite Penang being a small island, there is no shortage of arts and culture; from the International Film festival to the month-long George Town festival that celebrates the arts in every form imaginable.
With its UNESCO World Heritage Site listing, the must-see sights are best explored by foot.
As a former British colony, English is widely spoken, making it easy to make friends. And with a mix of cultures and cuisines, it’s a must-visit for foodies.
On $3,300 a month, a couple can live in luxury here.
Home to 1.6 million people, life in Penang might best be described as vibrant, rich and eclectic
Chiang Mai is one of the only places in Thailand where you can visit certified ethical and sustainable tourism projects such as the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Known as Cambodia’s ‘temple town’, Siem Reap in north-western Cambodia is surrounded by the ruins of the ancient temple city, from which the Khmer Empire ruled much of Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th century.
Developing rapidly, the changes of the last 10 years in Siem Reap may have brought more tourists, but they have also raised standards.
The artsy-retreat is now filled with beautiful hotels, excellent yet affordable food, art galleries and shops stocked with fine artisan offerings.
The famous ruins of Angkor Wat are 10 minutes outside of town. This is one of the world’s largest religious monuments, a grand complex which encompasses about 500-acres bursting with extraordinary stone temples.
Siem Reap is a place where expats report living on a modest budget.
‘I spend less than $1,500 in an average month on everything from food to medical care,’ Melbourne native Bill Parker said.
Chiang Mai, one of the most culturally rich regions in Thailand with a population of several hundred thousand people, offers all the amenities of a bustling metropolis at small town prices
Lying on the coast of the Eastern Sea Da Nang, central Vietnam’s biggest city is considered by many, expats and locals alike, to be the most liveable city in Vietnam
Da Nang, Vietnam
Lying on the coast of the Eastern Sea Da Nang, central Vietnam’s biggest city is considered by many, expats and locals alike, to be the most liveable city in Vietnam.
A river runs through the heart of the city, necessitating a number of bridges that connect the city to the white sand beaches.
One of them, shaped like a dragon and illuminated by thousands of lights, changes colour at night and blows fire from its ‘mouth’ in a spectacular display.
The beach is a hub of activity around dawn and dusk, with locals swimming, playing volleyball and football or simply strolling on the sand with a local beer or fresh coconut in hand.
And the jungle-clad Son Tra peninsula, just to the north of the city, makes for a wonderful day trip.
Here, you get serious bang for your buck.
Two people could live comfortably in Da Nang on a budget of around $1,325 per month, including rent, utilities, food, frequent meals out and incidentals.