3 budget-friendly countries for remote work


By Trevor H. – December 6, 2021 


The year 2022 is upon us. People are working from home now more than ever. With life getting more expensive, one might think to relocate in order to have more disposable income. 

With an abundance of interesting destinations, I have compiled a short list based on my own personal experiences of which countries could make an excellent choice for remote working

The list has been compiled based on quality of life and internet. If someone is seeking to live in a country solely based on it being the absolute cheapest without a decent quality of life then I am sure there is another blog for that. My goal is to work hard, play hard and enjoy life.

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3 countries ideal for remote work

1. Colombia

A view of Medellin. Beautiful houses and mountains tin the distance.

The city of Medellin to be exact. From the moment you leave the airport, the natural beauty is submersive. Entering the city, you may notice many people working from many of the charming coffee shops. 

As much as Colombia is beautiful, do be careful with your personal belongings as you would in any major city. In other words, don’t leave your expensive things unattended. 

Going back a couple years, I lived in Laureles, which is a sector of Medellin. I enjoyed a shared house with other expats who primarily worked remotely. The internet sufficed. The power never went out and I was able to get my work done. 

Being in Medellin, I would say the one disadvantage was the street noise. For instance, if you teach languages online, you will not be able to escape the street noise. Vendors selling fruits and vegetables have no shame in Colombia and will gladly let the locals know of their presence by yelling to the masses.

On the brightside, it did help me learn some Spanish words rather quickly such as “Aguacate,” which is avocado and “Please let me sleep, it’s only 7,” which is something like “Quiero dormir. No mas.”

On the street, I wasn’t comfortable enough to sit at any local coffee shop with my technology. I frequented coffee shops that had good reviews, reputations and a nice staff. As much as Medellin is beautiful, there is lots of theft. Being arrogant will increase your chances of getting robbed. 

My cost of living in Medellin was super cheap. I believe I was paying around 250 dollars a month to have my own private room in a large house. If you stay long term, I am sure it would be cheaper. 

If your goal is to save as much money as possible, make friends with Colombians. They can help negotiate with the locals and keep your costs down. If they expect something in return for their help, you’ll have to figure that one out. 

To rent a one bedroom apartment, the prices will vary based on your stay and preferred location. I would say 400,500 dollars and up. 

At the moment, I live in a town called Ibague in Tolima, Colombia. I rent a 3 bed, 2 bath condo with about 1000 square feet and I pay 500 USD per month. The same place back in my hometown of Toronto would simply be out of the question. I would need to be rich in order to have a pad this awesome. 

My wife is Colombian. Thus we can get the best prices possible. I bring up other cities in Colombia because living expenses can get even cheaper. Medellin is full of foreigners which drives up the prices. 

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2. Malta

Remote workers in Malta by the pier

Yes, the island of Malta. The beautiful and tiny European country in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. If your remote working lifestyle revolves around working hard and the beach, Malta is the place you need to be. 

Being about 30 miles long, you will have everything you need right around the corner. Malta has a stable internet, affordable accommodation and another thing, it is super beautiful. 

Many years ago, I lived in Malta for the entire summer while working remotely. I rented a qaint flat in the village of Bugibba, which is right on the sea. The views from the window were majestic. 

In Malta, there were no shortages of commercial places to work outside of the flat such as cafes and co-working spots. The internet was strong and the coffee was excellent. 

A disadvantage about Malta in my point of view is that it gets scorching hot in the summer. Yes, they obviously have air conditioning, but some people are not big fans of being stuck in a refrigerator at all times. 

Also, with the beaches fairly close no matter where you live on the island, it can be a noticeable distraction to your work-life balance. Meaning, if it becomes too hot with your forearm sweat flooding your desk as you work, a visit to the beach will be imminent. 

More beach visits equals less work. But hey, we only live once as they say. Go to the beach and enjoy your life. You have been working hard after all.

I remember having a decent one bedroom flat and it ran me about 700 USD. 

Malta is without a doubt more expensive than Colombia. It also has less crime and is a developed country. It remains a solid option for remote working on a budget.

Warning –  They have this pastry called a “pastizzi” which is addicting. It has a flaky crust and it’s filled with some kind of cheese. I gained 10 pounds when I was there. Be careful of this deliciously additive pastry.

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3. Thailand 

Chiang mai Thailand. The gates

Yes, we have heard this one before. Thailand, The Land of Smiles. However I am sure any Thai is smiling presently with how the pandemic has affected tourism in the country.

It was the “Trip of a Lifetime,” as I sit here reminiscing on my trip to Thailand that took place many years ago. It started off with 3 weeks in Bangkok, where I rented a studio apartment that cost me about 300 bucks. 

The internet was stable everywhere in Thailand, whether it was Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket. 

If your goal is to work remotely and focus on your tasks, I would recommend staying in the city of Chiang Mai. There is a large group of like-minded individuals who live in the city and work remotely. 

Chiang Mai is cheaper than Bangkok and is also less crowded. For instance, when I lived in Chiang Mai, I paid 200 USD monthly for a private room in a shared house. It was a cool experience. I made friends, worked, and went out on the weekends and partied like it was 1999. 

Something unique about Thailand is that it has everything. You can live in the city, by the beach or on an exotic island. 

Look at the city of Bangkok for example. If you love the city, you can stay there from Monday to Friday then you can take a bus to Pattaya on the weekend to have fun by the beach. 

However, Pattaya is catered to “adults.” They have some kind of red light district, but it can be easily avoided like any country that you live in. 

Conclusion

In terms of price, Colombia and Thailand are seemingly the same. With regards to functionality, Thailand had the best internet. If European beauty and elegance is your thing, Malta.

For myself, it was Colombia that took the cake or empanada. I feel at home here. When I was in Thailand, I had a wonderful time, but I felt out of place. I wasn’t lonely but I felt alone, if that makes sense. 

I prefer to stay where I feel the best, the most comfortable. Being from Canada, I have more in common with people from Latin America. Growing up, I had many family friends who were of Latin American descent. Learning some Spanish is much easier than learning some Thai or Maltese. 

And at the end of the day, who wouldn’t enjoy the perfect climate and empanadas of Colombia?

Happy travels.

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