Setubal, Portugal. By Ze Pinho

For most people, being able to live on $1,000 per month (or less) without heavily giving up on luxury and entertainment sounds like an impossible dream. Maybe you’ve heard that it might be possible in some South American countries, or somewhere in South Eastern Asian countries… but you still don’t quite believe it.

But what if if I were to tell you that even the presumably too expensive Europe is a place where you can easily live on less than $1,000 per month?

Well, that’s what I am actually saying and I have a list of countries that allow you to live decently for $1,000 per month in Europe, and your life might just change after reading this article!

It’s worth having in mind that these countries are good options to retire to or to move to if you already have your own source of income (like a pension, social benefits or other sorts of income from your current country). Don’t expect to come here and earn a fortune – relying on local employment might not actually help you make those $1,000 per month in the first place!

But if you have at least this amount saved up or available monthly, you’re all set for an… European dream! So let’s see the countries where you can make that happen!


01 greece
Beautiful Greek islands. By Massonth

There might be a bit of turmoil in Greece nowadays since the country hasn’t entirely recovered from the recession, but they are doing better and as an expat you won’t really be involved here. Plus, the protests are generally around Athens, the Greek capital, and you’ll probably choose one of the many Greek islands as your place to live in.

Although you won’t be able to live in a holiday resort for $1,000 per month, you can live somewhere nearby in a small, charming village by the sea. I have a friend who’s enjoying a decent life in Thessaloniki (one of the larger cities in Greece) for around $550 per month. He’s very frugal, but I think that paints a pretty clear picture of the prices there…

With one bedroom flats coming for as low as $150 per month and eating at local restaurants for as low as $7, you have a lot of room to play with your finances and get a lot for your thousand dollars.

Tip: although it sounds better living on the Greek islands, many of them “shut down” during the cold season because of the lack of tourism, so don’t exclude continental Greece. It’s also cheaper than the US or most of Western Europe!


Setubal, Portugal. By Ze Pinho
Setubal, Portugal. By Ze Pinho

It will be a bit of a stretch, but with careful planning you can make it even in sunny and beautiful Portugal with $1,000 per month, as long as you have nothing against living in smaller towns or villages and staying away from the more touristic areas.

I have one friend who manages to live pretty well for a bit over $1,500 in Lisbon, so it’s clearly doable in smaller cities. Rent will be the biggest cost here together with food: expect to pay around $300 for a one bedroom outside the city center and have about $300 more for food.

You won’t be eating out a lot (a regular meal at local restaurants will set you back around $10) but you will be able to enjoy life in sunny and relaxed Portugal for $1,000 per month with some careful spending!


Sibiu, Romania. The place where roofs have eyes. By Jurjen
Sibiu, Romania. The place where roofs have eyes. By Jurjen

Basically, every Eastern European country is a country where you can easily live for less than $1,000 per month. Eastern Europe might not sound too welcoming for many, but the truth is that many expats are having an awesome time in the region as the locals are friendly and the cost of living is extremely low.

Romania is clearly my pick for you since I happen to live here. If you’re not insisting in living in the capital – Bucharest – you can find a studio for as low as $100 per month.

Food is pretty cheap too, and a budget of $300 would probably be more than enough for one person who doesn’t eat out too often.

Utilities, internet, cable and phone should set you back a maximum of $200, and you will have a lot left for entertainment. And I promise you that Romanians know how to have fun!


Belgrade, Serbia. By Rudolf Getel
Belgrade, Serbia. By Rudolf Getel

It might be a bit more difficult to get to Serbia since they are not part of the EU yet, but their prices are even lower than what you see in Romania.

The Serbians themselves are great hosts and extremely happy people and just like in Romania, most of them know how to speak and understand English.


The charming Nessebar, Bulgaria. Photo by sergesegal
The charming Nessebar, Bulgaria. Photo by sergesegal

I personally considered moving to Bulgaria during the summer: you can find apartments for rent in their touristic destination for cheap (as low as $300 per month for 1 room apartments), and $700 would be more than enough to have a great time: spend most of the days soaking the sun, eating cheap local food and enjoying their extremely cheap beer.

Of course, if you want to go for a year-long stay, you can avoid the touristic destinations, but I really see no point in doing that!

Latvia & Lithuania

Riga, Latvia. By PnP
Riga, Latvia. By PnP

Both countries are really similar and if you prefer a cooler climate, this is the European destination for a cheap lifestyle.

Since the local median wage is of around $700 per month, if you are ready to live like the locals, you can obviously make it on less than $1,000 per month.


Beautiful view in Budapest. By Weijie
Beautiful view in Budapest. By Weijie

The downside here is that they have no sea for your holidays. The good thing is that, just like most of the European countries, Hungary too comes packed with a ton of things to see as it was one of the greatest powers in Europe during the medieval times.

Monuments, castles, the delicious goulash and a great health system are all part of Hungary where you can easily live off less than $1,000 per month is you stay away from the capital city, Budapest, which is becomig more and more expensive as it draws more tourists each year.

Generally, as I already said, all Eastern European countries are countries where you can easily make a decent living for around $1,000 per month. It’s even easier if you are not alone: two people (a couple, for example), could easily live on $1,500 per month and enjoy a good life, taking the total amount to $750 per person. So if there’s two of you, the actual cost of living per person per month will be a lot lower.

That is because many of the expenses will go down: even if you upgrade from a one bedroom to a two bedroom, the rent won’t double and you’ll end up paying LESS per month per person. Same goes for most of the utilities and even the food. So who said that being in a relationship is expensive?

Would you consider retiring to a place where you can live for less than $1,000 per month but which is far away from home? Many people did it and have no regrets – just better lives!


  1. Your post struck a cord with us. My job is already remote and my wife will be in the dissertation writing phase of her PhD soon enough.

    I may email you in a few months to pick your brain a bit, if that’s okay. Thanks so much for this informative article. You make it sound really tempting!

    • I am glad to hear that – it’s my dream to move abroad for at least a few months and work from that country while at the same time getting a bit of new culture infusion, so I did some extensive research on many cheaper countries. Europe (even Western Europe) is clearly a cheap choice for US-standard earners and I would love to talk to you via e-mail and help as much as I can.

  2. I have to agree – this post is really tempting me to think about living abroad! I would love to travel someday, but actually immersing myself in different cultures and living like a local would be so much better. Plus, living in Europe, you could travel around much easier and not have to worry so much about flights. It’s great to see there are so many affordable places. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Really good to keep in mind the Eastern European countries, C! Americans tend to forget about any place that doesn’t have a corresponding cafe in their town. We had focused on Spain at one time because it was a bit cheaper than other spots in Europe, but also because we felt having our son learn Spanish carried the most utility. Some of these other places have languages that are pretty much spoke nowhere else. But that aside, I find these places beautiful and the people are wonderful.
    I might have to have you come write a guest post for me one of these days about living in Romania!

    • Yes Nick, the language barrier might be a problem, but I am sure one can learn the basics pretty quickly. Plus, most of the European countries – especially the Eastern European ones teach English in schools from the 2nd grade so most of the people in these countries have at least some basic English skills, which means that it wouldn’t be impossible to get along.

      I’ll see if I can find an interesting approach to living in Romania for your blog.

  4. Living for $1,000 sounds great and it’s interesting to read that you are able to do it in many countries. My job is not remote and I’m not that adventurous to live abroad but it is something that has always crossed my mind, especially because living in NYC is so expensive.

  5. Hello thank you for a intresting blog 🙂 iam moving to Romania next month and i will have a budget of about 1000 dollars a month. Do you think i can easily manage with that amount?

    • Hello, Jonathan! I think that for a single person, this budget is more than enough to live a decent life in Romania. Depends a lot on the city where you will be living in (Bucharest is more expensive), but if you manage to keep rent under $400 (you should be able to find something really good for about $275), you will do great!

      • Hi sounds great 🙂 iam gonna travel around Romania before choosing were i want to stay, proabably in transylvania, definetly not Bucharest.

  6. I’ve survived and cancer/chemo & last year a valve replacement in my heart…Been to over 28 countries…and I really really want to spend a year in Ireland. I would like to keep it around $1,000 a month…open to most parts of Ireland…from Dublin to Galaway…to the southern part…So, what are my chances. I’ve never been, but have felt a tug for years….Just want to travel or stay put and do short trips..with my writing tablet and my camera….
    Any suggestions…would be great. I don’t require first class places…want to mingle with the people, as much as possible…Thanks you…Soni

  7. This is the post that changed my life. As an American, I’ve seen tons of articles on the internet that tell me where I can retire for $1000 or less and I’ve seen them for many years. Most of those articles highlight South American countries. I have never been interested in living in those countries (except for perhaps Argentina), because I always wanted to be in Europe.

    After yet another article showed up that highlighted where I could retire cheaply, I was finally motivated to do my own search. I searched “where to retire in Europe for $800” because I thought it was impossible and wanted to have more than enough buffer for anything that might happen. I thought it was an entirely unreachable goal.

    The first article I clicked on from my search results was this one. I was really surprised at the places mentioned because I thought they were either more expensive or I knew absolutely nothing about them. Most of these were places that we’d learned very little of growing up because they were Communist countries. How could I possibly consider moving my family to such a place?

    I looked into each of the places a little bit and found Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria the most intriguing. After just a few days I was being drawn more and more to Romania. It was a crazy idea. I’m thinking OMG, I think I may have found the perfect place for us. The more I looked into it, the less crazy the idea became and the more perfect it seemed.

    Now I know there’s nothing like being there, but on paper, this seems a perfect fit. We’ve lived in Alaska and Colorado and this seems like a mix of the two at about ¼ or less of the price. I asked all my closest friends to find a reason for us not to go and here we are 6 months later and they still have no reason why this is a bad idea.

    So we’re in the process of making the move and it’s all because C is kind enough to have this site, write this post, and share his world with us. I just wanted you to know that what you’re doing is greatly appreciated and has the power to reach out and affect people more than you might know. Keep up the great work and thank you so much!

    • Keith, you have no idea how happy I am to read your words! Knowing that the content I write is helpful and can change a person’s life is almost unbelievable – I can only hope that you will be as happy about the move in a few years as you are right now. As always, if you need everything, I am one e-mail away!

      • Hi, THANK YOU….I am just at the very start of getting serious about retiring to Europe…and so excited to find that if I plan and live reasonably…this is a very possible dream. I am drawn to Romania, but wonder if you have any insight to France?? I appreciate your time and advice 🙂

  8. For a single person, I am sure that Portugal is completely doable, as well as Spain. Italy is a bit more expensive, but doable as well – it all depends on your lifestyle and if you are good at budgeting and not overspending.

  9. hi, i have read your article about living in europe for less that 1000$ a month for 2 people.
    it is really very very interesting.
    i live in spain with my wife and shall be retiring in about 3 years.
    with the pension that i will get (approx 1000 usd) we will not be able to live in spain.
    so during the next 3 years i would like to visit a few east european countries just to get a feel of the place to enable me to choose the best country.
    would like to make trips of about 1 week to 10 days each time.
    any suggestions would really be appreciated.
    thanks in advance

    • I think that visiting the country is the best thing you can do, but up to 10 days won’t really help you understand the cost of living (which usually becomes lower as time goes by).

      These being said, living on $1,000 per month in Romania is still doable, but it won’t be easy. To get the best for your money, you should go for a cheap/poor city (like Drobeta Turnu Severin – I wrote about it here) where you can find a studio for rent for about 80 Euros per month, in a good area. Accommodation and food are usually the biggest expenses, so the lower the amount you pay on rent, the better. If you want more rooms, Drobeta is still very cheap, with 2-bedroom apartments renting for 150 Euros per month. The advantages (for foreigners) of living in a poor city.

      However, there are other costs that you should budget, especially if you’re non EU: you will need to get the year-long residence permit, which means usually opening up a business, which means more costs. This is the biggest problem in any country: staying there long term is expensive.

      But overall, it can still be done if you are ready to budget and live a modest life. As Otto says below, though, we are actually paying about $1,500 per month as a family of three living a decent life here (but we don’t pay any rent/mortgage).

  10. I am planning to live in Romania with my wife and son. We own a home in Romania and I don’t believe we can live off $1000 U.S. You will not likely find work. I would be VERY careful on planning to live in Romania on 1k a month. I would like to hear C’s opinion. What would a safe dollar figure be for a family? I believe C was saying $1500 and that is the budget our family is currently shooting for.

  11. Great article but i’m wondering on the visa restrictions. How long can i stay permanently in a country like Romania? Would i have to become a citizen or is dual citizenship an option?

    • Mike, you should check out the article I wrote about getting a residency permit in the country. You can stay for 1 year (and keep renewing) without even applying to get Romanian citizenship (which can only be done after 6 continuous years spent in the country anyway). If you really want to become a citizen, you don’t have to give up your actual citizenship.

      But in all cases, you have to start with a renewable year-long residency visa.

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