My Living Costs In Asia
It seems that any city that I have chosen to live in long term my monthly spending has always been between $800-$1200 a month in total. Sihanoukville on the low end and Manila & Jakarta on the high. Cebu, Angeles, Bangkok & somewhere in the middle.
Some cities I will spend more on a nicer apartment and have less of an “entertainment” cost, while others will be the opposite.
Things like food and transportation are pretty much the same in all cities because you can pretty much find good meals for $5 or less all over South East Asia. Some cities definitely have much better food options for that price though. I walk most places so my transportation costs are always quite low.
Living out of my backpack means I don’t buy a lot of clothes, and when I do buy clothes I buy $3 t-shirts and $12 fake Nikes. The fake shoes will last you a couple of months before they get some holes in them, but with how awful the sidewalks and roads are here I feel that even the higher quality new ones will be getting beaten up so bad that they wouldn’t last long here.
You can buy things like soap, shampoo, toilet paper and tooth paste for very cheap all over Asia. And many of the month to month places I have stayed at give you all of the above for free except tooth paste. They are barely even a factor in your budget here.
Overall I usually spend around $300-$500 for an apartment and $250ish a month for food. My “entertainment” charges may fluctuate between $100 to $300 a month but again in the cities where the apartment is more the “entertainment” costs are less.
Outside of that there is about $40-$45 a month for visas, and another $30 a month for random expenses. Every few months I also may have to go to a doctor or more likely just play google doctor myself and pick up some meds from a pharmacy. Overall in Asia I have probably averaged about $10 a month in medical expenses but I get sick quite often.
The biggest chunk of my living costs in Asia is rent. Every city I have been in I could have found a cheaper apartment, sometimes much cheaper. However I always choose to pay a little more for a couple of main reasons.
The first being that I do not want to sign a six month lease so I rent one month at a time. In some cities it can be quite hard to find month to month rental, in others it is really easy. It is always a bit more to rent month to month but the flexibility of being able to move when I want is very worth it to me.
Secondly I will overpay a bit for location. I don’t want to drive a motorbike, don’t want to spend money and time on taxis, and in the Philippines want to limit my jeepney time as much as possible also. I generally walk most places I go so I need to be close to where I am going.
There are some cities where I could probably get the same living conditions for a couple hundred dollars cheaper than what I have paid. However then I am stuck there for at least 6 months and I am spending a lot more money and time on transportation. To me this is the one thing that is really worth overpaying for.