The cost of living has never been my top priority for choosing a new destination. I have felt more allured by the curiosities hidden within it: cultural experiences, adventures, the startup ecosystem and fellow entrepreneurs I could mingle with. Yet a cheap living price tag comes as a great bonus, right?

In this article, I’ve gathered some of the most promising destinations that are not just cheap & awesome (Chiang Mai, Thailand, I know you are on everyone’s agenda), but have this unique beat of their own.

I’ve spent a month living in colorful Oaxaca earlier this year (more about Oaxaca here and more about typical food in Oaxaca) here. The food is magnificent and cheap. You can easily get along with $5-15 per day. A one- or two-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost you around $400-$600 per month, and you can find even cheaper options on the spot.

The locals are easy-going and friendly even if you are not the most fluent Spanish speaker (or can’t be called one at all). Exploring the culture of all 16 indigenous tribes living in the state – their ritual, clothes, and culture – is another great reason to stay longer. Along with some day/weekend trips to nearby beautiful beaches of Mazunte, wood caverns of Arrazola or the potters of San Bartolo de Coyotepec, famous for their stunning black pottery.

If you are interested in catching up with the local entrepreneurs and discovering some interesting social projects, head to Impact Hub. Their schedule is packed with various events and workshops. It’s also an awesome co-working space with cozy shared areas both indoors and outdoors.

Colonial Oaxaca

Medellin is quickly coming clean of the “Pablo Escobar” image. While there are certainly some neighborhoods you’d better watch out for (like anywhere else in the world), quarters such as El Poblado can easily rival LA and Miami premium properties.

I’ve spent two amazing months living in Medellin and have seen why Techcrunch called the city one of the Latin America’s most promising tech hubs. AtomSpace is the top hub for all the local entrepreneurs and digital nomads – affordable residence rates, loads of space and tons of interesting events going on if you feel like making connections in the city.

What to do:

Take a salsa class – might sound cheesy, but worth it!
Explore the nearby mountain villages. Jardin should be among your top choices.
Venture into Aburrá Valley for some more serious exploration and hiking.

You can find a one-bedroom apartment in the city center starting from just $400 per month if renting long-term.

Plaza Botero Medellin
Budapest is one of the cheapest European capitals, yet the benefits of crashing in this city do not end here. It’s ancient enough for history buffs with stunning gothic cathedrals peaking here and there, the well-known thermal baths scattered around the city and parties all around the city.

The parties never end at mildly-hidden Ruin bars if you feel like going out and there’s a great creative community build up around them. You can rent out a cozy furnished studio close to the city center for just $350-400 per month.

To mingle with fellow nomads and local entrepreneurs head to Kubik coworking space or Kaptar.

Skopje is a curious mix of the soviet heritage buildings, narrow ottoman lanes at the Grand Bazar area and pompous new buildings done in suspected Greek style – a controversial governmental makeover project with no definite finish date. Given, the city will never win a price for its beauty, but it’s an affordable, buzzing city with friendly locals and rising startup scene.

What to do:

Hike in Mt. Vodno National Park area and marvel the largest cross in the world (officially bigger than Christ statue in Rio).
Grab (delicious) bites at the Old Bazar Area and drink enormous amounts of chai.
Head out to Matka Canyon – 30 min by car out of the city center – a stunning natural wonder to hike through.
Savor the local cuisine (You may get seriously surprised by the size of portions).

Renting a spacious 1-bedroom flat at the city center will cost you between $300-400 or half the price if you opt for a studio.

Don’t be shy to come to Silicon Drinkabout Skopje – a casual weekly meetup of peeps working in tech startups or doing creative digital stuff in Skopje. People are friendly and speak good English. For virtual meetings, you can join MKStartups group on FB.

Park at Coffice if you’d like to get some work done in a serious environment or crash at any coffee shop you like (no one’s gonna bother you).

THE PHILIPPINES (Everywhere, except Manila)
It’s hard to choose where exactly to dwell at the Philippines with somewhat 7.000 paradise-ish islands. I’d recommend starting with Siargao – the pristine surfers’ paradise; Cebu – a bigger hotspot with awesome beaches or Palawan – voted the best island in the world in 2014.

It may take awhile till you find affordable housing. The always-working rule of thumb is – get further from tourist spots and rent out a scooter to go around, and you are sure to find an under $500 per month house deal.

What to do:

Hit the beaches, obviously. They are just too good to ignore.
Learn to surf or kitesurf.
Explore the colonial heritage of Cebu
Munch the local street food, which is cheap, peculiar, yet tastes great (no matter how unusual it may look).

A good local meal in a resto will cost you around $6-10. Grabbing fresh products of the fish market and making a grand BBQ for a crowd will set you back for $20-30 max.

When in Cebu, check-in at The Tide – a cool coworking/startup hub with really decent Internet and great folks to mingle with.

Back to you: Share your home base! Which cities did you like living at?

Philippines - Archipel des Visayas
Philippines – Archipel des Visayas




  1. Awesome list and great blog Giovanni! I am definitely going back to the Philippines one day. Medellin has been on my list for a long time.

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