Bali Bangkok Expat Games Ho Chi Minh City Hong Kong Kuala Lumpur Manila Singapore Southeast Asia Vietnam

The 8 Most Livable Cities in Southeast Asia

Bali, Indonesia Livable Cities in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is likely one of the first locations individuals try out once they begin their nomadic way of life.

It’s low cost, it’s heat, it’s straightforward to get to, and it’s loads of fun.

But what individuals typically don’t contemplate is that it’s greater than just a short-term place to vacation or run errands.

It’s truly a terrific place to stay.

Following my Trifecta strategy has made me increasingly targeted on cities with one thing extra: good service, buying malls, wonderful food, Uber entry, ease of settling in — a spot that looks like house.

Whether Southeast Asia is just one base in a part of your multi-base technique or a spot to calm down and reside full time, there are various cities that provide great alternatives for you.

Right here at Nomad Capitalist, “go the place you’re treated greatest” is a person factor. 

The choices you will make about where to base yourself very a lot rely upon the life-style you need to lead.

The cities on this record are what I personally and my staff would advocate based mostly on elements like overseas accessibility, efficiency, variety of obtainable providers, way of life options, and travel availability.

Even inside my staff, we have now very totally different way of life preferences and should choose one metropolis over another.

As you read our suggestions, search for how these cities will fit into your nomadic way of life.

Let’s start on the prime.

eight. Bali, Indonesia

The Island of Gods is among the most popular nomad hotspots in Asia resulting from its unique appeal, high quality of life and a big expat group

Bali is a place I principally look to for a vacation. 

It’s a serious nomad hub, especially for startups and new entrepreneurs. 

And it’s definitely a heavenly spot for somebody who needs to be surrounded by nature, eat wholesome vegetarian meals, drive a scooter around and bounce from primary hubs in Ubud, to Canggu for surfing, or Seminyak to exit. 

This is also a massively widespread destination for pursuits like yoga retreats, meditation, and well being courses.

My remote group was in Bali doing a three-month stay and beloved it. (We’ve written a nomad information to dwelling in Bali here). 

There are, nevertheless, a number of issues to concentrate on in Bali.

For one, there are some tales of credit card scams or duplicates. 

The financial system of Bali has lengthy been geared in the direction of tourists, so it is advisable keep vigilant. 

Additionally, it may be more durable to fly to, but there are alternatives by way of Singapore and elsewhere for an extended and refreshing go to to the large metropolis after being within the jungle or on a seashore for some time.

Additionally, certain connectivity points can come up. 

Web connection might be unreliable (undoubtedly purchase protectors and energy stabilizers) and transport/visitors on the island might be fairly congested at occasions. 

That stated, the Balinese tradition is usually very welcoming and hospitable and the nomad hubs of Ubud and Seminyak have had an enormous affect on SE Asia nomad travels.

7. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam Most Livable Cities in Southeast Asia

Hanoi’s colonial appeal make it a refreshing break from the mall-heavy cities like Bangkok.

Hanoi is the cultural capital of Vietnam and a fantastic choice for nomads and expats. 

We have now written earlier than about the cost of dwelling in Vietnam and find out how to be part of the emerging financial system there.

I feel Hanoi is among the more underrated cities to give attention to as a base in SE Asia. 

Hanoi has a colonial allure and wonderful cultural scene for nomads who need to be somewhere somewhat totally different than the standard mall-heavy cities of Bangkok or Singapore.

One of many fascinating issues about Hanoi are the tube houses that outcome from previous property tax laws. 

The town has some fascinating zoning laws that end in an fascinating array of houses and neighborhoods throughout. 

Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnam generally, are fast-growing cities that mirror the growing interest in Vietnam as a regional financial powerhouse.

6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong Most Livable Cities

Though not technically part of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong’s beaches, weather, greenery, and big-city tradition make it a unbelievable location that we merely couldn’t depart off our record.

Certainly one of my favourite cities on the earth, Hong Kong is a incredible place to financial institution or do enterprise (in case you can). 

While not all the time thought-about part of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong is a very international city on the South China Sea that defines a lot of the area.

Hong Kong is an extremely costly place to lease an condominium. An extended-running real property bubble has made it among the many costliest locations to reside. Nevertheless, even in Central, there is a yin-and-yang about Hong Kong that makes it really special.

On one nook, well-dressed bankers dine on tony $100 lunches. 

On the other corner, native retailers hawk low cost clothing subsequent to meals shacks. 

You will get something you want in Hong Kong; and the marginally gritty, huge metropolis nature of it presents up loads of methods to reside abundantly.

Hong Kong gives all the benefits of massive metropolis life and the weather is great much of the yr. 

Beaches, greenery, and tradition (just like the Huge Buddha) are a brief bus journey away. 

And, if a few of the world’s greatest buying and waterfront views don’t excite you, the world’s largest playing mecca is a one-hour ferry journey away. 

The robust enterprise tradition and low tax charges make it a terrific metropolis for entrepreneurs. 

As an added bonus, Hong Kong airport is among the world’s cleanest and most luxurious airports, with non-stop service to virtually any civilized place you need to go.

Now, on to our prime five!

5. Manila, Philippines

Most livable cities Manila Philippines

The ‘Pearl of the Orient’ won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but Manila has a number of benefits for expats and on the lookout for their next Southeast Asian place to base.

The Philippines is a really fascinating place with friendly people who, mixed with the prevalence of English-speaking locals, makes the town of Manila of good spot to start out.

With Manila, discovering the best a part of town is necessary. 

Areas like Makati and Fort Bonifacio (Manila’s own version of Singapore) supply nice purchasing.

The Greenbelt Mall in Makati is crammed with lush greenery, streams, a duck pond, and even a chapel. 

While not big on culture, the town has a number of fascinating museums and points of interest from its Latin roots.

A one-bedroom condominium in Makati could be extremely reasonably priced; even probably the most luxurious of buildings have flats for lower than $1,000 a month. 

For the successful businessman, luxurious and abundance are all the time an choice. 

There’s all the time the option to buy as properly. 

Finally, for Westerners, areas like Makati supply a metropolis within a city with Western-style dining, such because the Filipino equivalent of the Cheesecake Manufacturing unit.

It gained’t be the simplest place to navigate because it’s an island chain and the Manila airport isn’t that nice to say the least, making journey round as well as out and in of the area more durable than other choices on this record.

Manila itself doesn’t score too excessive so far as efficiency is worried both. 

It isn’t the cleanest city and every little thing will are likely to run behind, but if you will get previous being a bit late you’ll ultimately mix right in.

In the event you take pleasure in lovely seashores, nice individuals, fascinating food, and aren’t so fearful about what I’ve talked about, then Manila could possibly be an awesome place for you. 

Other individuals might advocate different cities like Cebu or Davao, but as someone who likes capital cities, I might select Manila for my international citizen way of life over anyplace else within the Philippines. 

4. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Thailand Southeast Asia

Bangkok, a vibrant international hub famous for its road meals and temples is often the primary city a lot of the nomads go to with regards to Southeast Asia.

Now, Bangkok was not all the time on the record and it’s place on this listing modifications typically. 

I personally don’t get it. 

While many expats coo over Thailand’s largest city, I discover it exhausting to get round, missing in cultural venues, a bit overpriced at occasions, and I simply don’t get the power of Bangkok.

I take pleasure in a metropolis with a bit of bit slower tempo. 

I wish to reside in places which might be extra developed than Bangkok so that I have better entry to the issues I would like.

But, I understand on paper why it works for individuals.

Whereas I wouldn’t stay there (and would make the case for my favourite SE Asia metropolis over Bangkok as I did in the video under), it is a good choice for some nomads and expats.

Bangkok is a metropolis that can fit a wide variety of pockets.

It’s huge, it’s bustling, and it may need all the things you want. You’ll be able to fly anyplace in the region with little or no hassle.

If you want to reside cheaply, you undoubtedly can — eating road meals, dwelling someplace further from the metro or BTS, and so forth. There’s even low cost massages.

It’s an incredible city for making a price range stretch, supplying you with the prospect to do extra together with your money than you may be capable of somewhere else.

In case you are on the lookout for a high-end way of life, it is accessible in areas like Silom at sky bars and totally different gourmand restaurants. 

Furthermore, as a world hub, flying in and out of BKK is straightforward. 

Spending the weekend on the seashore can also be reasonably priced and straightforward, making Thailand an ongoing in style choice.

Once I did this listing again in 2013, I left Bangkok off of it, much to the consternation of many viewers who hold the robust belief that Bangkok is one of the best place to reside in Southeast Asia.

Many people love the Thai way of life and cultural hospitality.

It’s not a spot for me to set up a base, however it’s a useful metropolis where individuals have loads of enjoyable.

3. Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is probably not an incredible tourist location, nevertheless it’s good for expat dwelling.

Ho Chi Minh is one that basically punches above its weight, as individuals say. It has extra going for it than you may surmise at first glance.

Ho Chi Minh City is particularly fashionable amongst location-independent staff who journey with a backpack and a laptop computer.

In any case, there’s a cafe on virtually every corner.

Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 has all the things a Westerner might need, from recent Asian food to expat-run hamburger shacks and sky bar nightlife.

Should you’re younger and single, District 1 has all the things you may be in search of, whereas different close by areas may be nice for plenty of expats with those of a more conventional, household way of life.

The Vietnamese dong is weak, allowing your greenback or euro to go extremely far in a market that gives very reasonably priced dwelling, developed buying, unbelievable eating places, and delightful condominium buildings.

This additionally makes it a terrific place for enterprise. Many nomads go there to bootstrap their companies and get probably the most for their dollar.

The meals is fascinating, the culture is great, and you may simply keep a Western way of life there.

It’s only a excellent spot to reside.

2. Singapore

Singapore Most Livable Cities in SE Asia

Although it is an costly place to reside in Southeast Asia, what Singapore has to offer with regards to quality of dwelling could be value the fee for nomads and expats.

Some may find our rating for the second place city on our record debatable. Because it’s probably the most developed city on this listing, many people might consider that Singapore should are available first.

The place is so amazingly sterile and clean that first-time visitors joke about eating off the bottom.

Singapore is tremendously developed and environment friendly and I really like that about it.

You’ll be able to go from airport, to a automotive, to the town middle very quickly. You’ve gotten access to most of the issues that you really want. 

Singapore simply runs nicely.

What turns me off about Singapore is the high value of housing.

Like Hong Kong, Singapore is each a logo of financial freedom and a moderately expensive place to stay.

It’s not as costly as other comparable international cities, however it’s additionally not low cost. Buying a house in Singapore goes to value quite a bit, creating a very low yield.

Whereas locals can use the country’s Central Provident Fund to help pay for their housing, it is a luxurious foreigners don’t actually get.

Due to that, me dwelling in Singapore means renting. Which in flip signifies that, if I need to keep a quasi-nomadic way of life, I’m going to be throwing away a lot of money.

That makes Singapore much less fascinating to me.

That stated, the various tradition of Singapore and its extremely prosperous status not only makes it an ideal place for positive purchasing but in addition for a myriad of eating and cultural options offered by the overseas talent that helped construct the place. 

Whereas Singapore is fairly isolated geographically, you’re not far from nice seashores in Indonesia, and even the pretend beaches of Singapore’s Sentosa Island. 

I personally assume that Singapore is usually a excellent spot to retailer your wealth, and it has quite a bit going for it. But, it simply doesn’t compete with what I consider to be probably the most livable place in Southeast Asia.

1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia underrated countries for expat living

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is all the time #1 from Nomad’s perspective with regards to probably the most livable cities in all of Southeast Asia.

First place goes to Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been an enormous fan of this city for a really long time. Kuala Lumpur has it all.

Bar none, it is the most underestimated place for dwelling on the earth.

You’ve gotten most of the parts that make Singapore great, including a sizable English-speaking inhabitants.

You’ve good connectivity to crucial elements of the nation with, fairly frankly, probably the greatest airports on the earth for getting around.

The regional airline, Malaysia Airlines, can also be simply actually, really reasonably priced.

Past that, you will have every cuisine recognized to man, a few of the greatest food on the earth that you would be able to share with really nice, friendly individuals. 

Together with its elevation of road meals to a extremely social (and hygienic) art type.

You lose a number of the efficiency of Singapore due to some disjointed infrastructure, however this is greater than made up for by the fact that you should purchase a relatively good house for 1 / 4 million dollars.

Plus, you will get a residence permit for less expensive than it will value you in Singapore.

It’s a extra livable way of life for the typical six- or seven-figure entrepreneur who needs to calm down both full- or part-time.

I fee it as #1 on this listing and, while some might disagree, I encourage you to take a go to to this excellent city and provides it a full shot before writing it off. Many who visit discover it is a welcome refreshing mixture of much of the great of Singapore, Hong Kong, and others in a single. 


Based mostly on my livability criteria of overseas accessibility, effectivity, variety of providers, way of life options, and availability of journey, this is my prime eight listing.

Different individuals have totally different preferences. 

Some individuals like a good slower tempo than I do, preferring rural areas like Davao within the Philippines or Chieng Rai in Thailand.

That’s all positive. To me, those are great places to visit. To spend time enjoyable in.

I wouldn’t name them livable in the same means I might check with cities on my record.

For me, livability is where I can have my international citizen way of life and get all the things I want anytime I would like.

Your wants and preferences could also be totally different, but this listing offers you a better concept of where in Southeast Asia you want to spend your time.

Nomad Capitalist is all about serving to individuals like you “go where you’re handled greatest”. If you want to study extra about what exactly meaning, and why I consider so strongly in it, I made this video that’s value watching:

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson is the world’s most sought-after marketing consultant on authorized offshore tax discount, funding immigration, and international citizenship. He works solely with six- and seven-figure entrepreneurs and buyers who need to “go where they’re handled greatest”. He has been researching and truly doing these things personally since 2007.

Andrew Henderson

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