At the start of 2019, I was living in Vancouver, which is the most expensive city in Canada.
By the end of the year, I left Canada in order to work on my online businesses and travel the world.
The experience has opened my eyes to the fantastic lifestyle that you can live for a fraction of what it would cost in Canada.
It got me wondering, what would this lifestyle of mine cost in Canada? For comparison, I chose the city I stayed in for two years which is in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Renting an Apartment With a Maid
Southeast Asia: $440/month
Downtown Vancouver: $2,360/Month
I recently did an apartment tour video, which shows the type of place in Da Nang, Vietnam, that you can live at for $400/month.
It was in a prime location, about 500 square feet with modern furnishings, and steps away from a beautiful beach. It also came with a maid service twice per week that was included in that price. Utilities cost about $40/month.
A one-bedroom apartment in a prime location in downtown Vancouver is going to cost you at least $1,800/month for anything decently sized. Utilities will be a similar cost at around $50/month.
A maid service will cost around $70 per visit, so that’s $140 for twice a week cleaning. For a maid to come to your apartment for four weeks in a month will cost around $560! In total, the cost would be $2,360/month.
Eating at Restaurants Every Meal
Southeast Asia: $600/month
Eating out here is so cheap, and the food is so incredible, I dine out every single meal. There is, of course, amazing Vietnamese food, but you’d be surprised at the selection of different cuisines.
I regularly go to Korean, Japanese, Indian, Greek, Italian, Chinese, or Western restaurants all the time, and the quality is top-notch.
Best of all is the price. You can get an incredible Vietnamese meal such as a banh mi or pho for $1-$2. I like to eat healthier Western food mostly, so my meals range from around $4-$8.
There’s also no restaurant sales tax or tipping in Vietnam, which isn’t part of their culture. I remember trying to tip the first few times I ate out, and the waiter ran out with the money to hand to me because he thought I forgot it.
In all, I spend around $20/day, so on average, I spend about $600/month on food, and that’s eating out every single meal.
In Vancouver, eating out three meals every day costs way more than this. On average, with taxes and tips included if you were to eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, it would probably cost around $25/meal, so $75/day. So that’s another $2,250/month for food.
Southeast Asia: $140/month
I bought a motorbike here, which is super cheap to maintain and operate. The cost of insurance is $10/month. Fuel costs are around $30/month. And I calculated the maintenance and depreciation costs on my vehicle to be around $50/month.
Southeast Asia has a service called Grab, which is its version of Uber. It is insanely cheap to use here. A 15-minute cab ride from the airport cost me around $7. I use Grab whenever I need to use the car, for if I need to transport things or if I know I’ll be drinking somewhere and don’t want to ride my motorcycle. I spend around $50/month on Grab.
In Vancouver, the cost of owning a car is super high. My insurance cost there was $220/month, and I had a spotless driving record. Fuel costs are sky high and I was spending around $250/month on gas. And the depreciation and maintenance costs on my vehicle was around $300/month.
Southeast Asia: $20/month
I’m not a huge drinker and have about four to five drinks a week. A beer here costs $1 at a bar or restaurant. So I spend about $20/month on drinks.
In Vancouver, at a bar or restaurant with all the taxes and tips, you’ll be spending at least $10 for a beer. It’s ten times as expensive to drink in Vancouver, which is insane to me. So I spend around $200/month going out for drinks in Canada.
Southeast Asia: $500
I recently went on a trip for seven nights to Dalat for a weeklong getaway. Dalat is a beautiful mountain town in South Vietnam.
I rented a motorbike and explored around to waterfalls and beautiful mountaintops and did some hiking, and also checked out what the city restaurants and night market had to offer. Flights were super cheap at $60 round-trip, and for a really nice hotel, it was $40 a night. In total, I spent $500 on the trip.
For seven nights in a place like Whistler at a nice hotel, plus all the entertainment costs of going out to nice restaurants and lift tickets for the mountains, you’re looking at over $2,000 easily. That’s without even flying out somewhere.
Southeast Asia: Priceless
What price would you put on fantastic weather? There’s no more scraping snow off my windshield, or the -30 degrees I experienced while living in Calgary and Edmonton. In Da Nang, you can go to the beach ten months out of the year; the other two are the rainy season.
Sure it gets hot or rainy during some seasons, but the beauty of being able to work location independently is I can go to somewhere with nicer weather.
In my back-of-a-napkin analysis here, I got a price of $7,580/month for Canada vs $1,680/month for a similar lifestyle in Da Nang, Vietnam. My costs here in Asia are 22% of what they would be in Canada for the same kind of lifestyle.
That sounds about right to me; as a rule of thumb, I’ve estimated about a 25% rule in SouthEast Asia. Most things here are about a quarter of what they cost in Canada.
Downsides of Living in Asia
There are some things I miss about Canada. I miss playing hockey, the cleanliness of the cities, less noise pollution, and less crowded areas. The language barrier can also be very difficult at times.
Healthcare surprisingly is pretty good here. I got an x-ray before because I thought I broke my hand, and it went flawlessly with the doctor speaking perfect English.
Though if I ever had a serious health problem, I would definitely fly back to Canada because I trust the healthcare providers there way more.
For now, though, I love the lifestyle and the excitement of living in Asia, and the freedom it brings for me to build my business.
I can’t wait to start travelling again! If you are too, check out these 25 countries that you can travel to for $2,000 or less.