Bruce Northam is what you might call well-traveled. The author has spent decades navigating the globe, a journey he details in "The Directions to Happiness: A 135-Country Quest for Life Lessons. "
Along the way, he's gotten a good idea of where your money stretches the farthest.
On Thrillist, Northam shares nine of his favorite countries where $1,000 a month will cover housing, food and adventures. If you're thinking about living abroad, "don't let cost stand in your way," he says. "If you're earning even a few American dollars a month, you can stretch a trip to any of these spots indefinitely."
Read on to see Northam's favorites, what you'll save on in each country and the cost of a local draft, which "works as a pretty reliable stand-in for almost any cost-of-living survey you care to enlist," says the travel writer.
We also included the cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in each country, according to database Numbeo. The range represents the average cost to rent outside of the city center and in the city center.
"Sandwiched between Iran, Turkey, and Georgia, many of the tiny Christian country's 4,000 epic religious structures are on prime real estate — analogous to where America created its ultimate national parks and resorts," writes Northam.
Armenia's best deal: "A world-class opera runs $6. "
Cost of a local draft: $1.50
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $140 to $230 per month
"Bolivia remains an even greater bargain than backpacker sanctuaries like Cambodia," says Northam. "La Paz (elevation 12,000ft), the world's highest capital city, is where frugal long-term travelers crisscrossing South America hang their hats and regroup."
Bolivia's best deal: "A bed in a bare-bones hostel will run $5 per night."
Cost of a local draft: $0.75
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $210 to $290 per month
"If you really plan on living here for a while you'll have to truly go local — earthen floors and all — to live cheaply," says Northam.
Fiji's best deal: "A bowl of kava is by donation, your call."
Cost of a local draft: $1.25
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $210 to $780 per month
"You'll find plenty of splendid beaches and nice places to crash on this West Indies paradise," says Northam. But, "keep in mind that this is the Caribbean and to navigate affordably you'll have to go more native than you might prefer."
Grenada's best deal: "Exotic spices. Fresh and way cheaper than Trader Joe's."
Cost of a local draft: $1
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $310 to $400 per month
"Americans abroad are sometimes met by a level of wariness, but expect Laotians to welcome you warmly," says Northam. "Take a rat-race sabbatical to this Buddhist country, and you'll chill out and probably learn to cook vegetables better than anyone you know."
Laos' best deal: "A handmade bamboo river raft, just $15."
Cost of a local draft: $1.25
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $170 to $300 per month
"Free of the Communist hangover that hung in the former Yugoslavian states post-1991, Montenegro is rocking it," writes Northam. "The capital, Podgorica, has its share of uniform, sober buildings echoing the dismal Soviet concrete era, but the mannerly hard-working locals make it shine."
Montenegro's best deal: "A two-hour bus ride crossing remarkable mountain range separating Adriatic coast with inland capital runs just $7."
Cost of a local draft: $1.75
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $200 to $290 per month
"Nestled between powerhouses China and India, this hypnotizing nation allows you to travel back in time, which also applies to its cost of living," says Northam.
Nepal's best deal: "Nifty local handicrafts cost bupkis. "
Cost of a local draft: $1.15
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $60 to $110 per month
"Even the poorest country in Central America — you'll be humbled by how far $500 a month goes here — is a swell place to assess your coordinates of wonder," says Northam. "In the late '90s this place was slowly limping out of a war. Now it rivals Costa Rica, the darling of Central American tourism, as the place to be."
Nicaragua's best deal: "Surf lessons can be had for less than $10 an hour."
Cost of a local draft: $1.65
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $170 to $320 per month
"Africa's adrenaline capital, the Victoria Falls region, is once again open for business," writes Northam. "Rafting on Class V rapids, giving a full-grown lion a massage and beholding the epic Victoria Falls is only a taste."
Zimbabwe's best deal: "Getting healthy [food] here is easy and cheap."
Cost of a local draft: $2
Cost to rent a one-bedroom: $280 to $350 per month