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The 10 Best Islands to Live In Southeast Asia

Do Life Right: The 10 Best Islands to Live In Southeast Asia

Picture yourself waking up to the ocean every morning, walking along the beach instead of commuting and enjoying the ocean breeze. Less stuff, less worries, and less stress. Tempted?  

Remote work is fine, but you could also just quit your job and move to an island so cheap you don’t need to work much at all. Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading.  

For those with an adventurous spirit, there are islands in Southeast Asia where you can retire early and live on as little as $1,200 a month. It’s not just a pipe dream reserved for the ultra-rich. It’s actually accessible and very possible for anyone, even you!  

While being on a tropical island feels like a luxury while you’re on vacation, living there doesn’t come with the high-end price tag you would imagine. Island life is actually much cheaper than living in most major cities in the US or Europe, especially if you’re willing to venture into other parts of the world.  

Southeast Asia with its warm weather, colorful culture, and low cost of living is the perfect place to look at for your nomadic journey. Virtually all of Southeast Asia lies between the tropics, giving it rich seas and jungles, diverse plant, and animal life and warm temperatures. 

Life in Southeast Asia is exciting, colorful and spicy. The region has diverse culture and food from all over the world. The people are friendly, laid-back and love having fun. There will never be a dull moment if you choose to move here. 

Don’t know where to start? If you’re convinced and ready to choose where to pack up and go – you’re in the right place. We hand-picked the best islands in Southeast Asia to live in.  

Siargao Island, Philippines 

Awarded as the World’s Best Island for 2021 by Conde Nast Magazine, Siargao is a tropical island paradise in the Philippines, 500 miles from the capital Manila. The tear-drop-shaped island is surrounded by turquoise waters and is home to a vibrant culture, friendly locals and some of the best surfing spots in the world.  

The entire island has a land area of 437 square kilometers, yet hundreds of ex-pats have chosen to settle down here. Walking around General Luna, the capital of Siargao, you will find many European and Australian nationals and many restaurants and cafés serving authentic European cuisine.  

With its unique geography, Siargao boasts some of the best landscapes in the world – from islands with powder-fine white sand to seas of coconut trees and mystifying lagoons, Siargao has magic that makes it difficult to leave. Life in Siargao is slow, simple, and utterly beautiful. If you’re looking for pure, no-frills island life at its finest, this is the place to be.
It’s also relatively cheap to live here. Here, a couple can live well from $2,000 a month, including rent in the city center.

Koh Samui, Thailand  

Thailand, with its booming economy, year-round tropical weather and fascinating culture and food is a great choice for those who would like to live abroad. Koh Samui, found 425 miles south of the capital Bangkok, is the place to be.  

The small island boasts world-class beaches, inland jungles, and beautiful waterfalls. The sea is clear and calm, making it ideal for kayaking and sailing. After all these activities, you can sit down at one of many trendy spots to catch an amazing sunset over the Gulf of Thailand.  

Here, a couple can live well on a budget of $2,000 – $2,500 per month. It’s the ideal place for serene, seaside living. 

Bali, Indonesia 

Indonesia is a huge archipelago with more than 17,500 islands. Out of these, the most popular has got to be Bali. It’s no surprise – with its mountain ranges and coastline covered in beaches surrounded by turquoise waters. Bali is an island paradise that has lured many ex-pats to its shores.  

The island is home to mystical natural wonders, such as active volcanoes, rice paddies and lush tropical jungle. It also boasts countless luxury spas and resorts where you can enjoy royal treatment at a fraction of the cost.  

Bali is extremely cheap. Here, a couple can live on $1,900 per month.  

Penang, Malaysia 

Sitting right in the middle of Southeast Asia, just off the coast of Malaysia is the island of Penang. The capital George Town is a modern city with skyscrapers and malls, making it a favorite amongst ex-pats for decades.  

Its strategic location makes it a perfect jump-off point to explore other destinations such as the white sand beaches of the Philippines or the temples of Myanmar.  

English is widely spoken as Penang was a former outpost of the British Empire. Here, you can find interesting architecture, a lively art scene, and incredible street food.  

You can easily live a luxury life here on a budget. A couple can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $1,200 to $2,500.

Boracay Island, Philippines 

Boracay is an island like no other. Located in the central Philippines, its famous White Beach is a stretch of powder-fine sand that stretches along the entire length of the island. Walking along the coast, you’ll be treated to a crystal sea against the backdrop of palm trees, resorts, bars, and restaurants. 

Happy hour is a special treat in Boracay as it boasts one of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. Imagine unwinding from work by having a frozen cocktail in hand while watching the sun paint the sky pink. Sign me up.  

There are also a lot of activities to do in Boracay for those who enjoy water sports and adventure. On the east coast of the island is Bulabog Beach, where strong winds make it ideal for kitesurfing and other sports. Mount Luho towers over the island, making it a lovely hike with a breathtaking view of the turquoise water and white sand from the top. Below land, coral reefs and shipwrecks invite divers to come and explore them.  

Boracay has everything you need to have an exotic, tropical permanent vacation. The best part? A couple can live here comfortably for just $2,000 per month. 

We hope these destinations inspire you to add some spice and adventure to your daily routine. If you’re looking for a good place to start, you can prepare by getting rid of those shoes. You won’t need them on the island. Check out our flip flop recommendations and reviews to buy a new pair to take with you on your island adventures.