OVERSEAS LIVING: Have you ever considered living well, but quite cheaply, in place such as Nha Trang in Vietnam?
OVERSEAS LIVING: Have you ever considered living well, but quite cheaply, in place such as Nha Trang in Vietnam?

Living well on little is possible in these 3 destinations

AUSTRALIANS can live a comfortable lifestyle, even with only the Aged Pension for income, in these three overseas havens according to International Living Australia.  

The basic Age Pension payment of $1652.40 per month for a retired worker or $2491.20 per month for a couple, when living in some of the world's most affordable places, that's a sizeable sum which can be stretched a long way.

"On that budget, more and more Australians are discovering they can live much better in the right spots overseas than at home-and can afford indulgences like a housekeeper, regular meals out, trips to the spa and more," International Living Australia spokesperson explains.

"In addition, expats overseas gain the benefit of an adventure, the prospect of exploring new places, meeting new people and enjoying a lifestyle with less stress."

The top three places expats report that they are enjoying fun, fulfilling lifestyles on a modest budget are in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia 

"I didn't want to move here because I thought I was happy where I was," Melbourne native Michelle Williams said. "But test-driving life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia soon opened my eyes to what this incredible place has to offer."

In Melbourne Michelle enjoyed a reasonable but relatively basic life. But, having made the move overseas, it's a very different story for Michelle today.

"Phnom Penh turned everything upside down," Michelle said. "Overnight I went from an "essentials only" lady to having luxuries I've never experienced before. Before I was used to packed lunches, finding the best bargains at the supermarket and my idea of a relaxing treat was a long bath.

"Suddenly I became one of those 'ladies who lunch' as I joined a group of other expat women at least a couple of times a week and we always go to a different high-end restaurant. The thing is, even when we go somewhere really posh we might only pay $10 or $20 a person for fine French or Italian cuisine."

Michelle's newfound friends quickly introduced her to the fun and financially friendly world of expat life in Phnom Penh.

"I have never been so pampered and looked after in all my life. If I'm feeling stressed or want to have a refresh then it's off to the ladies' spa. I can get a 90-minute traditional Khmer massage for $10, an oil massage for $15 or a head and foot massage for $12. Until I came to Cambodia I didn't realise how amazing having a professional massage was…and I couldn't have afforded it anyway.

"I had reservations about moving to Phnom Penh, but it has turned out to be a total luxury lifestyle upgrade, which I did not expect. I spend so much less but get so much more for my money, not to mention the fantastic experiences I am having on a daily basis."

The cost of living for a single person resident in one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Phnom Penh is about $1500 per month.

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Eileen Brown, 54, and her husband, Steve, first discovered the beach town paradise of Nha Trang, nine years ago. "We ended up staying here for longer than we initially planned," Eileen said. "We fell in love with the beaches, the relaxed atmosphere, the awesome seafood and the lovely climate."

In 2014 the Brisbane resident retired and made preparations for a full-time move overseas. "I sold our house, the car, furniture, knickknacks-everything," Eileen said. "In the end, it felt fantastic. I loved getting rid of it all."

They now enjoy making their home in Vietnam, a country with one of the lowest costs of living in the world. Eileen says that their average monthly budget is about $1100.

"Besides rent we spend $38 per month to have our apartment cleaned twice a week and $33 per month for apartment fees and parking spaces for our motorbikes," Eileen said.

"We pay $45 per month for high-speed unlimited internet-though we could have gotten a less expensive plan-and between $42 and $119 per month on electricity, depending on the season and how much we use the air conditioners. Everything else goes towards groceries, eating out, petrol for the motorbike and whatever else comes up."

Chiang Mai, Thailand

"I have always thought that life should be a celebration, but I can't say I lived that way until I retired to Chiang Mai, Thailand's 'Rose of the North'," Rachel Devlin said. "Back home in Sydney just paying off the mortgage and the price of food saw us forking out $2500 per month.

"It was rare that we went out to good restaurants or took weekend trips away. There was either no time or not enough money. It was a busy and exhausting way to live. Life's celebrations came in the form of a modest barbecue and some run-of-the-mill wine. It was fine. I was happy. But I still didn't really understand what 'quality living' meant. Not until I moved to Chiang Mai.

"Selling up back home and buying property here in Thailand provided me with an income stream that meant I could kiss goodbye to my old 50-hour work week. We're now mortgage-free and thanks to the great value you can find here, myself, my husband, son and our cat, live comfortably on a budget of $2000 per month. That covers bills, food, day trips and nights out.

"A recent adventure was to a suburb called Bo Sang just 20 minutes out of the city. It was the weekend of the Umbrella Festival. After the parade, my son went for a Nutella waffle from a street stall at a cost of $2 and I opted for a $2 bag of freshly-cut, sweet pineapple.

"On the way home we stopped in to get our monthly shopping supplies. The local Big C Shop stocks both local and imported produce and our monthly bill is around $150. With our bags full we went back to round off another blissful Chiang Mai day with a swim."

For more information on international living choices for Australians, go to InternationalLiving.com/au.

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