8 Cheapest (and Safest) Places to Live in the World

Everyone dreams of living in a country that offers a balance of the best of both worlds: cheap and safe! While many countries usually tip in favor of one or the other, a select handful of countries reward wanderlusters in both categories. Whether you’re looking for urban offerings, dramatic scenic views, or diverse cultures, you’re bound to find a country in the list below that you’ll love. You may also learn a new language while living abroad in one of these countries!

bowl of food on a table in ho chi minh
Some of the most cheap, safe places to live also have the most delicious food! Cheap, safe, AND tasty? Sign us up!

The Global Peace Index, as well as the cost of living index, have helped to narrow down the cheapest, safest places to live in the world. The top countries that fit into both of these categories are primarily in Asia, Europe, and Central/South America, but the list is not exhaustive.

The hospitable locals, delicious dishes, and travel opportunities in these countries are sure to delight you! Here’s the top 8 cheapest and safest places to live in the world.

The 8 cheapest, safest places to live in the world

1. Portugal

A warm climate, fresh seafood, and stunning beaches make Portugal a popular place. Portugal ranks number 3 on the Global Peace Index, which makes it one of the safest places to live in the world. If you’re looking to enjoy the splendors of Western Europe without paying a high price, Portugal offers an affordable cost of living with reasonable rents and inexpensive transportation.

view of the coastline in madeira, portugal
Yowza. The cheapest and safest places to live in the world definitely look priceless!

Your biggest expense may be the seafood and wine! Many people in Portugal speak English, but you won’t be able to resist learning the romantic language of Portuguese. Portugal is also home to respected universities with outstanding reputations at highly affordable tuition costs if you’re interested in studying abroad!

2. Slovenia

You probably don’t hear much about Slovenia, but it’s a best-kept secret that boasts views of the Alps without the high costs of France or Switzerland. If you’re an outdoorsy person, you’ll fall in love with the opportunities to ski, hike, and bike. Slovenia ranks in the top 10 on the Global Peace Index, and most people can live comfortably in Slovenia for under $1,500 a month, which makes it one of the top cheapest and safest places to live in the world.

The language of Slovenian could be a bit of a barrier, but many young people can speak English fluently. Learning English has become more important in Slovenia, so you may be able to nab a job teaching English here in the city of Ljubljana. 

3. Czech Republic

As a country that ranks number 10 on the Global Peace Index, you can’t go wrong with this charming castle capital of the world. Those who love history and culture will revel in the sites here. The Czech Republic boasts more than 2,000 castles sprinkled across the country, and some have been standing since the Middle Ages. You’ll also find twenty monuments that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

If you’re interested in studying abroad or teaching abroad, you’ll want to “czech” out this country! Average living costs are around $350-$750 a month, which includes food and accommodation. Teachers can earn up to $1,300 a month, and many jobs usually provide accommodation and other benefits too.

4. Malaysia

When you mix together a low cost of living, a low crime rate, friendly people, and a warm climate, you’ll see why Malaysia meets many people’s expectations as the cheapest and safest place to live in the world. Malaysia is also a good choice for those who want to study abroad here with its high-quality education programs and affordable tuition rates.

silhouette of a person in a cave in malaysia
Students and travelers alike will find Malaysia to be well worth it.

Many students enjoy the miles-long beaches, rainforests, and cosmopolitan cities. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is less than $200 a month, and many students choose to live on campus to save money. If students are interested in staying in Malaysia for long periods, they’ll be delighted with straightforward, student-friendly visa options.

5. Costa Rica

The land of “la pura vida” is an adventurer’s paradise where you can surf, snorkel, and zipline to your heart’s delight. Costa Rica is one of the cheapest, safest places to live in the world with reasonable rents around $500 a month and a fairly safe environment. The tropical climate, good health care, and tasty ceviche also make Costa Rica an attractive place to live, especially for volunteers and teachers — you can stretch your budget pretty far.

Teachers can earn up to $1,000 a month with the right credentials and teaching placement. As one of the most sustainable countries in the world that attracts thousands of tourists every year, you’ll find plenty of volunteer opportunities in ecotourism, tree planting, and trail building.

6. Uruguay

Uruguay may be South America’s second-smallest country, but it’s chock full of things to see and do. Learn to dance the tango, enjoy the longest running Carnaval, and take a selfie with the Beach of the Fingers sculpture. The colonial sights of cathedrals, plazas, and palaces as well as the plentiful beaches and museums are sure to fill your days.

Uruguay also makes the list of cheap, safe places to live in the world thanks to being one of the safest countries in Latin America, and you can find reasonable rents as well. Many study abroad programs in Uruguay are budget-friendly, but a strong fluency in Spanish is necessary for university classes. Uruguay is in pretty high demand of English teachers with a TEFL certificate, and they can do well financially. 

7. Panama

Another Central American country that ranks well on the Global Peace Index while enjoying a moderately low cost of living is Panama, which makes it a favorite on the list for the cheapest and safest place to live in the world. Where else can you watch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean and set over the Pacific Ocean in the same country?

person surfing in panama
You won’t be lacking fun things to do in these cheap and safe places to live!

You can live fairly comfortably in Panama from $1,500-$2,500 a month. The universities draw international students from around the world with diverse program offerings, free tuition, and classes that are taught in English. You can also find lots of volunteer opportunities in Panama in the areas of health care, conservation, and human rights.

8. Vietnam

From the Buddhist pagodas to the bustling markets, Vietnam’s diverse offerings know no bounds. You can see everything from mountains to beaches to caves to tunnels all in one country. Vietnam makes the list as one of the cheap, safe places to live in the world because it ranks well on the Global Peace Index, and you can get by comfortably with a budget of $1,000 a month.

Many people come to Vietnam to teach English because the demand is high, and they can earn up to $2,000 a month with the right qualifications and job placement. Additionally, you can find a range of volunteer opportunities in education, women’s rights, and health care.

Use FundMyTravel to get you to your cheap and safe destination ASAP!

Have you chosen one of these cheap and safe places to live?! If you’re in need of startup costs, emergency travel funds, or general financial help, the best way to bulk up is with the help of FundMyTravel. Launch a campaign with FundMyTravel to get the word out and recruit help from your network to raise funds and achieve your travel dreams!

You’ll find that this dedicated platform comes with lots of free resources, helpful suggestions, and easy instructions to get started. Many wanderlusters before you have successfully used FundMyTravel to raise thousands of dollars, and you’ll find the online community would be happy to share tips.

These cheap and safe places to live are a game changer

person staring down a road in indonesia
Where will your pursuit of the cheapest, safest places to live in the world take you?

Whether you’re looking to study, teach, or volunteer, you’ll find many opportunities available in these cheap and safe places to live. Don’t fret — you can find cheap and safe places to live in the world on other continents too! However, the cost of living varies between cities and rural areas, and crime can happen anywhere at any time; it’s best to learn more about specific places you’re visiting in the country before arrival. 

The benefits you can gain from these countries include earning college credits, gaining skills for your resume, making lifelong friendships, making a difference, and more! Many programs can also help take care of the big things like accommodation and visas, and FundMyTravel can help cover program fees too. From adventures in the ocean to explorations at historic sites, you’ll have one-of-a-kind experiences in any one of these cheap and safe places to live in the world! 

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Sydney LutzThis article was written by Sydney Lutz. Growing up as an “army brat,” Sydney could not help but develop a thirst for traveling. She has visited all 50 states as well as England, France, Canada, Germany, and Australia. Sydney graduated with a master’s degree in public communication and technology in Colorado, and taught abroad for a year in Quito, Ecuador. Her favorite things to do include studying Spanish, practicing yoga, and travel writing.

Comments (24)

Sydney…….if you spent time in Quito , how did Cuenca not make this list?

I want to live in Portugal or Slovenia looks good too!

Tell us what you uncover Judy! Paul Malta

I want to live in Portugal or Slovenia looks good too! Maybe very soon!

Kent Schaufelberger

We have friends who are moving to Panama…he is Panamanian and she, US citizen. they’ve invited us to visit them. Given the history of unrest (now nearly 25 years ago, what is the risk of living in tge Central American states?

I have lived in Costa Rica for 21 years. It is reasonably safe to live in Central America, but you need to be more cautious . Even locals call theft the “ national sport”. But the upside is that people are truly freer here than almost any place in the world. No army, no beefs with the world. They have lived in peace here for 70 years. That works for me!

Amazing just like to try all of them I already lived in Malaysia and had an inspiring life.

Very interesting and would like to know more

Portugal is not cheap in comparison to other European countries and this blog is inaccurate to say it is number one, I suggest someone goes and researches it fully and then decides for themselves, I am qualified to make this statement of fact.

I keep hearing it’s cheap to live but a YouTube vlogger who moved there said it is not as cheap everyone says it is. She likes it there and also said it is not terribly expensive, but it is not dirt cheap either.

So what country in Europe is the cheapest?

Definitely Georgia

Anywhere in the world that it’s possible to live on 800 dollars a month that is reasonably safe?

I can’t believe Costa Rica is on this list lol.. food/necessities are literally more expensive than the states.

Costa Rica is # 5 on the list .

Uruguay? Safe, yes. Cheap, not even close. Easily the most expensive in all of South America.

Hi Sydney, How did you get started in your job? Is there a perfect place in this world to retire or live? I want to be rich yet happy and help others with their dreams.

Malaysia costs are about 25% that of Hawaii. It is a safe country. The Malls are the same as the US. Everyone treats you with respect, IF you treat them with respect. The only problem is that you cannot retire there unless you pay the $$$ to get the special retirement visa, unless you marry a Malaysian. I did marry, and bought a house, however I cannot return to Malaysia because I am a US citizen during the COVID pandemic. Now I’m stuck in Hawaii paying the big bucks to live here. 5,000 is poverty. 10,000 a month is what it takes to live a decent life. I can live like a King on 2,000 us a month in Malaysia!

In 2018, 42 of the world’s 50 most violent cities were in Latin America. Four were in the US, with another in Puerto Rico.

Randy hi I am considering retiring to Maylasia as I have a son in Australia & 1 son in the US. I have visited there & liked it a lot. I did not know about the retirement dollars you mentioned & would like to understand how I find about those costs. Thank you.

Honey, Uruguay is NOT CHEAP at all! people from Europe compare it to Switzerland hahah! But, it’s still super safe and relax to live and visit.

Panama is definitely not cheap! It used to be about 15 years ago when it was a shoppers paradise, but the inflation of 2014 has made things unbearable. It is now as expensive as France or the UK.

Also, it is definitely not a place where international students come, the public program is very deficient and private univ. degrees have to go through several evaluations when abroad. Those who offer classes in English do so to prepare students to complete their last years abroad. Applied Panamanians apply for scholarships to study in Cuba, China or Argentina, and the wealthy go to the USA. During the 80s, thousands studied in the USSR.

There is a huge safety problem with “la ruta de la droga” and the amount of deaths related to drug trafficking has risen to insane levels during the pandemic.

Human rights are not respected and its the most homophobic country in the region, really. Plus corruption in the government is rampant.

Other than that, the weather’s awesome. But it’s not a country to live in for people who have experienced first world. It has many flaws.

I have lived in Japan for 35 years and think it is a very good place to dwell. Medical services are excellent, food is healthy and bountiful, streets are clean and always safe regarding crime. Summer is too hot and humid, earthquakes and typhoons are a nuisance but other than that it’s better than my native Canada IMHO.

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