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THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH CITIES WHERE YOU CAN LIVE FOR DIRT CHEAP

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More than a few Americans fantasize about picking up their lives and moving to some seaside villa in a country where your rent is less than a car payment. It’s a fantasy because while it might be affordable, few people actually end up doing it. There are things to consider other than rent when moving to a far-flung beach town. Stuff like «does anyone speak English?» Or «is the food edible?» Or «is there Wi-Fi?» Miss these answers and your turquoise-watered fantasy turns into an experience so stressful you end up back in America before getting your first base tan.

But around the world — and even in the US — there are beautiful beach cities where you can live your best life for a lot less than you do now. We talked to expats and looked at cost-of-living figures from Numbeo and Nomad List to find a dozen places where your dollar goes far, and your quality of life goes farther.

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Monthly cost of living: $1,000
It’s hard to believe a region with a hundred miles of coastline, quaint cobblestone streets, and more sun than pretty much anywhere else in Europe has a cost of living this low. Even better, most of the region is English-speaking, and home to 100,000 expats from all over the world. And the city is cheap. Dirt cheap. A three-bedroom apartment will run you about $600, but if you don’t need much space, $325 gets you a one-bedroom right smack in the center of the city. Milk is less than $3 a gallon. Beers are two bucks. Dinner out is under $10. You get the idea. And if you get homesick, head to Lisbon and you’re about a six-hour flight from the East Coast.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Monthly cost of living: $1,200
Living in Cartagena is sort of like going on a tropical Caribbean vacation every single day of your life. And that goes for partiers, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The snorkeling and scuba diving here is some of the best in the Caribbean, and costs about $30 a trip. The city’s historic center is a museum of Spanish Colonial architecture, and a roomy walking path takes you through it all and down to the main harbor. The nightlife is as intense as you’d expect in Colombia, and a night out partying like Drake in South Beach will run you about $100 if you do it right. Party a little TOO hard and fear not; health care in Cartagena is surprisingly good, with large hospitals and comprehensive health insurance for under $50 a month. Cry if you need to.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Monthly cost of living: $550 to $1,100
Bigger Vietnamese cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh get most of the expat love, but neither boasts much of a beach. Hoi An, on the other hand, is not only bordered on one side by spectacular green mountains, it’s also a skip and a jump from spectacular stretches of sand you’ll have largely to yourself. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can get a house or apartment for as little as $300 a month, $500 for a nice one with everything included. To fully experience the area your best bet is to rent a motorbike (about $45 a month). In a place this beautiful, you’d be ill-advised not to.

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