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When you make the decision to become an expat, one of the most important considerations is the cost of living. Depending on where you choose to live, you could be paying anywhere from a low to a very high amount for everyday expenses.

In this blog article RHJ Law – part of RHJ Group, take a look at the most and least expensive countries for expats to call home, so you can make an informed decision about where you want to live.

The most and least expensive countries for expats: Navigating the cost of living

Factors to consider when choosing a country to live as an expat

Relocating to another country can be an exciting and life-changing experience. However, it is important to take into account certain factors before deciding on a destination. Here are some important considerations:

Cost of living

One of the most significant factors to consider is the cost of living in the country. You need to think about your budget and lifestyle choices, as some countries are more expensive than others.

Job opportunities

It is important to research job prospects in your chosen destination, particularly if you plan to work as an expat. You need to find out if your skills and qualifications are in demand, as well as the average salary and work culture.

Language barriers

Language is another crucial consideration, as it can affect your ability to integrate and communicate with locals. It may be useful to learn the local language before you arrive or take language classes once you get there.

Healthcare and safety

You should also research the quality of healthcare in the country, as well as the safety and security situation. This will give you an idea of how to stay healthy and safe while living there.

Climate and environment

Lastly, it is important to consider the climate and environment of your destination. If you prefer a warm and sunny climate, then a country with cold winters may not be ideal for you. Also, if you love the outdoors, then a country with plenty of green spaces and natural attractions might be a better fit.

By taking into account these factors, you can find the perfect destination to live as an expat. Whether you are seeking a bustling metropolis or a quiet coastal town, there are plenty of options available.


The most expensive countries for expats:

Living abroad can be an incredible experience, but it can also be expensive. If you’re looking for a luxurious expat lifestyle, here are some of the most expensive countries to live in:

  • Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, which makes it an expensive place to live. Accommodation, food, and transportation are all costly, with prices exceeding those in most European cities.
  • Norway is another country that is known for its high standard of living and equally high prices. Housing, groceries, and entertainment can all be costly, but the strong social safety net and public services help make up for it.
  • Australia is a popular expat destination, but it can also be very pricey. Accommodation and food costs are especially high, but many people find that the quality of life makes up for the extra expense.
  • The United Arab Emirates is also known for being a relatively expensive country to get setup in. However, with their low tax rate it can actually be cheaper than some other countries if you set yourself up in the correct way.
Speak to an expert about living in the UAE

The middle-range countries for expats:

For those who are looking for a balance between affordability and comfort, middle-range countries are the way to go. These countries offer a good standard of living while not breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at some of these countries.

  • Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for expats due to its low cost of living and beautiful beaches. The cost of living is very low, with rent being especially affordable. Health care is also affordable, but quality can vary depending on where you go.
  • Portugal offers a great quality of life for a relatively low cost. The country has great weather, amazing food and a rich culture. However, if you arrange your taxes correctly and benefit from the NHR, this could be the cheapest place for you
  • Mexico offers a warm climate, beautiful beaches, and a rich culture. It’s an affordable place to live with housing costs being very low. Healthcare can also be inexpensive, but it is important to note that the quality can vary depending on the location.
  • Poland is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats due to its low cost of living and rich culture. The country has beautiful architecture and amazing food. The healthcare system is also relatively affordable, but quality can vary.

Living in middle-range countries can be a great way to balance your budget and your quality of life. These countries offer great options for those looking for an affordable but comfortable lifestyle.

Speak to an expert about moving to Portugal

The least expensive countries for expats:

In terms of cost of living, CyprusMalta, and Bulgaria offer low costs for expats. These countries provide affordable housing, food, and transportation options.

There is a Mediterranean lifestyle to enjoy on the beaches of Cyprus and Malta, while Bulgaria offers both a mountain and beach life. Low taxes are also one of the reasons these countries are popular among retirees. However, it is important to note that salaries are lower in these countries, so expats might need to live within a tight budget. Nevertheless, these countries are great options for expats seeking a high quality of life at an affordable price.

Speak to an expert about moving to Cyprus or Malta

How to live frugally in expensive countries

Living in an expensive country as an expat can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, with a few tips and tricks, you can still live frugally while enjoying your new surroundings.

First and foremost, it’s essential to budget wisely and stick to it. This means prioritising your spending and cutting back on non-essential items. It’s crucial to keep track of your spending, and it may be helpful to create a spreadsheet or use budgeting apps to monitor your expenses.

Next, consider the cost of accommodation. In many expensive countries, housing can be a significant expense. Consider alternative living arrangements such as house-sharing or renting a room in someone’s home. Additionally, look for accommodation in areas that are further away from the city center, as they can often be less expensive.

When it comes to food, eating out can quickly add up. Instead, try cooking at home, which can be a fun and budget-friendly activity. Shop at local markets for fresh produce, and look out for discounted items at supermarkets. Don’t be afraid to meal prep for the week to save time and money.

Transportation costs can also add up. Consider using public transportation rather than taking taxis or renting a car. Many cities also have bike-sharing programs, which can be a cost-effective way to get around.

Lastly, be mindful of entertainment and leisure activities. While it’s essential to enjoy your new surroundings, expensive activities can quickly drain your wallet. Look out for free events and activities, such as concerts or museums with free admission. Additionally, join local community groups or volunteer organizations, which can be a great way to meet new people and enjoy activities for little or no cost.


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Choosing a country to live as an expat can be a daunting task, especially if you are unsure of the cost of living. However, armed with the information we have shared in this post, you can make a well-informed decision on the most suitable country for you.

While cost is a major factor to consider, it shouldn’t be the only one. Factors like language, culture, weather, safety, healthcare, and employment opportunities should also be considered.

If you have your heart set on a particular country but the cost of living seems high, don’t be discouraged. By making wise financial choices and adapting to the local lifestyle, you can live frugally and enjoy your expat life to the fullest.

Speak to an expert about where would be best for you to move

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