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10 Crazy Cheap Beach Towns for Coastal Living

August 12, 2019

For most people, the beach is synonymous with paradise. The sand between your toes and the salty air automatically equates with rest and relaxation. So it’s no wonder that people fantasize about quitting their jobs, selling all their belongings, and posting up on an island somewhere. Well, with a little bit of money in your savings account, that dream could become a reality.

There are plenty of beaches around the world (some even in the U.S.) that allow you to live your most stress-free life possible for a fraction of the cost you do now. We found 10 of the most beautiful ones.

Warning: The following list will provoke serious wanderlust!


1. Pedasí, Panama

Estimated cost of living per month: Approximately $1,200 - $1,500 for two people.

Where is it: Just fly into Panama City, rent a car, and drive about four hours to the tip of the Azuero Peninsula located on the Pacific coast.

Why it’s awesome: Pedasí has gorgeous rock formations jutting out of the warm Pacific Ocean and with just 1,500 residents, you’ll always have a stretch of the beach to yourself. In fact, why don’t you just live on the beach? You’ll find beach homes for rent that cost about $500 a month. Enjoy a small-town vibe with an established ex-pat community in this Panamanian paradise.

Cheap Beach Towns: Pedasi, Panama
Photo credit: Ayaita / Wikimedia Commons

2. Cartagena, Colombia

Estimated cost of living per month: $1,400 - $2,000 for two people.

Where is it: The historic and picturesque city of Cartagena is located on the Caribbean Sea in northern Colombia. There is an airport just a short drive out of the city.

Why it’s awesome: As if the price tag to live in Cartagena wasn’t intriguing enough, you’ll find culture and history overflowing from every corner of this beautiful beach city. Walk around the old walled city, marvel at all the colorful and intricate doors lining the historic buildings, and enjoy some fresh ceviche for $2. And if you ever wanted to live it up a little, there’s a more modern part of town called Bocagrande where new skyscrapers line the beach.

Cheap Beach Towns: Cartagena, Colombia
Photo credit: Reiseuhu / Unsplash

3. Penang, Malaysia

Estimated cost of living per month: About $1,100 - $2,000 for two people.

Where is it: Penang is a city and also an island off the northwestern coast of Malaysia in the Malacca Strait (just south of the Thailand border). They have an airport and the mainland to catch the train is just a bridge or ferry ride away.

Why it’s awesome: Do you like good food? Then Penang is your city. The entire island is known for some of the most delicious food in the entire world and the best part... it’s dirt cheap. With a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian culture, this gem of Malaysia has so much to offer its visitors and its residents. Oh, and quiet, pristine beaches are just a short drive or bus ride away. Expect to find adorable monkeys playing in the trees right by the shore.

Cheap Beach Towns: Penang, Malaysia
Photo credit: Balou46 / Wikimedia Commons

4. Canggu, Bali

Estimated cost of living per month: About $1,200 - $1,800 for two people.

Where is it: Most tourists tend to hang out in the more popular areas of Bali like Denpasar or Ubud, but Canggu is the chill place to be. Located just north of Kuta, this low-key part of the surf-haven of Bali is super easy to get to from the airport.

Why it’s awesome: Canggu is the epitome of a dreamy beach town. You’ll find yoga studios, art cafes, and beach bars that look like shacks. Does it get any better than that? And with rent coming in as low as a couple hundred dollars/month, you won’t feel bad if you want to head out to one of the more swanky beach clubs every now and again.

Cheap Beach Towns: Canggu, Bali
Photo credit: Josh Withers / Unsplash

5. Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Estimated cost of living per month: About $2,000 - $2,500 for two people.

Where is it: Expats are flocking to this beachy paradise located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

Why it’s awesome: Expats love Tamarindo because of its surfing and fitness culture. People love to live an outdoor lifestyle in Tamarindo and you can expect a diet full of fresh seafood and lots of local produce. And to make things even easier, most people speak English and health care is super affordable.

Cheap Beach Towns: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Photo credit: Tamarindowiki / Wikimedia Commons

6. Gulfport, Mississippi

Estimated cost of living per month: Around $2,200 - $3,200 for two people.

Where is it: Nestled between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, you’ll find Gulfport, Mississippi on the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it’s awesome: Of course, the fact that Gulfport is located in the United States is going to make it a bit more expensive than Central America or Southeast Asia, but overall, it’s really quite affordable. Now that the region is recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the rent is affordable, the arts culture is thriving, and the beaches are coming back stronger than ever.

Cheap Beach Towns: Gulfport, Mississippi
Photo credit: JodyB / Wikimedia Commons

7. Cascais, Portugal

Estimated cost of living per month: $2,100 - $2,500 for two people.

Where is it: Cascais is just twenty short minutes from the country’s capital of Lisbon and it literally looks like it belongs in a storybook.

Why it’s awesome: The weather in Cascais is gorgeous year-round and even stays mild in the winter. If you’re into action sports, you can surf, kite-surf, windsurf, or sail right out your back door. This is another region where you’ll find that many people speak English, so communicating and making new friends won’t be hard.

Cheap Beach Towns: Cascais, Portugal
Photo credit: Husond / Wikimedia Commons

8. Ao Nang, Thailand

Estimated cost of living per month: $1,500 - $2,500 for two people.

Where is it: Ao Nang is a small beach town on the western coast of Thailand on the Andaman Sea. You can fly into the Krabi airport or take a boat over from Phuket.

Why it’s awesome: Ao Nang is incredible because it offers cheap rent (about $350 a month), delicious food (for under $5 for a full meal with a beer!), and beautiful beaches where you can relax and sip on mango smoothies all day long. Want to switch things up for the day or weekend? You can hop on a boat and head to one of Thailand’s many other nearby beautiful islands and beaches like Koh Phi Phi or Ko Lanta.

Cheap Beach Towns: Ao Nang, Thailand
Photo credit: Kailerna / Wikimedia Commons

9. San Pancho, Mexico

Estimated cost of living per month: $1,500 - $2,500 for two people.

Where is it: This charming coastal community is just a short hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Why it’s awesome: San Pancho is small but it’s absolutely blissful. The beaches boast impressive waves and incredible cliffs, and in the city, you’ll find endless options of tasty and affordable restaurants. Want to do something more lively for the weekend? Just spend it in the more bustling city of Puerto Vallarta.

Cheap Beach Towns: San Pancho, Mexico
Photo credit: Apasciuto / Flickr

10. Split, Croatia

Estimated cost of living per month: About $1,500 - $2,500 for two people.

Where is it: You’ll find Split on its own peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, just north of the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik.

Why it’s awesome: You can’t beat gorgeous beaches and a Mediterranean lifestyle for a fraction of the cost of living in the U.S. Another perk of living in Split is that it’s a seasonal town which means it’s busy and happening during the summer months but sleepy and quiet for the rest of the year.

Cheap Beach Towns: Spilt, Croatia
Photo credit: Yoko / Flickr

Written by Ashley Brewer for Knockaround.

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