Inexpensive, vibrant, interesting temporary place to live
June 12, 2014 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Let's say you wanted to take between 3 and 6 months off in order to write. What inexpensive, amazing place would you go?

During a potential upcoming life transition, a person I'm close to will have a few months off to complete a longstanding writing project. He is interested in finding an inexpensive place to live for a while in order to write and to have new experiences.

The factors:

* Cost of living (ideally, one would be able to live on $500-$600 per month in the location)

* Awesomeness (defined as scenic beauty, cultural richness, opportunities for unique experiences ... you know, awesomeness).

* Access to decent Internet (for freelance work opportunities: doesn't have to be lightning fast, but does have to be able to handle sending and receiving 25MB files).

* Cost of transportation to and from the United States or Europe. Due to the circumstances of the life transition, it'd be easiest if the place were in either the Americas or Europe, but other places will be considered too.

* Bonus points for: Ability to set up the transition from afar (i.e., ability to book a rental apartment before arriving), proximity to beaches, mountains, and healthy food, especially pescatarian food.

I'm interested in both where you would go and where you think these criteria point. Specifics, like cities within countries and resources would be much appreciated.
posted by jeffmshaw to Travel & Transportation (33 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
New Mexico - lakes and mountains & deserts.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 4:52 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can't really speak to cost of living, but I remember it being cheap as a traveler.
I feel like Split, Croatia is somewhere that ticks most of your boxes.
Especially the Awesomeness box. It's awesome.
posted by wats at 4:55 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine any better place than India. But I'm biased as it's our second home.
posted by taff at 5:10 PM on June 12, 2014

Response by poster: Taff, are there specific spots you would recommend? My friend, who is a woman, mentioned Goa.
posted by jeffmshaw at 5:13 PM on June 12, 2014

Best answer: Any Greek island, off season.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:17 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Lisbon. With some effort you can find a furnished apartment downtown for 500-600 euros per month (e.g., here); probably cheaper options in less central locations. Bus/train to the beaches for 2 euros, monthly subway pass for 30 euros, Internet for ~30 euros/month, cheap food at grocery stores.

Not exactly within your budget but probably one of the cheaper options for a beautiful seaside European city.
posted by pjenks at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A bit outside your geographic preference and I don't know how much it costs to get there from the US, but Ha Noi could otherwise tick those boxes. Ho Chi Min City might too and it's closer to the coast, but the old quarter of Ha Noi has great cheap accommodation, plenty of general awesomeness, good access to mountains and stunning coastal regions and great food.
posted by mewsic at 5:23 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: mexican fishing village. i'm sure san felipe is nothing like when i saw it last, but there are smaller villages awaiting discovery.
posted by bruce at 6:09 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love the foothills of the Himalayas. I've not been to Goa but I understand it's busy. Busy can mean expensive. But not always. If I was wanting to write I'd look at a place around Shimla. Or Manali. Shimla best seems to fit your bill off the top of my head. But it's a big country and there are a billion lovely places to go.

I like to go where there are enough local tourists that the amenities are plentiful, but not enough international tourists to make me feel like I'm in just any old generic international town with loud and boorish non-locals.
posted by taff at 6:11 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nicaragua. You can live very well for $500/mo. You can rent a fully furnished house for that.

You don't even need to apply for a visa. You can just hop across the border to Costa Rica every three months and come back.
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Forgot to mention that Nicaragua has beaches, jungle, volcanoes, a thriving ex pat community, and the people are great. It's my favorite place in Central America, and I miss it a lot.
posted by empath at 6:18 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could look at quieter villages in the western Algarve, Portugal. I'd recommend west of Lagos. There's enough long-term north Euros there already that you might be able to find long-term rentals online.

Goa climate is nice between about October and March.
posted by carter at 6:39 PM on June 12, 2014

What is your friend's residency status? It's an important bit of the equation. One can't legally stay in the European Schengen zone for longer than 90 days in any 180 period.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My friend is a US resident with US citizenship.
posted by jeffmshaw at 6:42 PM on June 12, 2014

Oaxaca, Mexico
posted by Sal and Richard at 6:48 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: New Zealand, Paekakariki.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:11 PM on June 12, 2014

Best answer: Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:34 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buenos Aires. All the advantages of a big city and the culture that comes with it. Incredible literary heritage. Awesomeness, yes. Cost to and fro, debateable. Living on $500-600 monthly, doable. Internet access is sufficient. A mix of Latin America, Europe and pure chaos.

There are 500 million other less expensive places in South America, but Buenos Aires just seems, at least to me, very literary minded. They really dig books there.
posted by Che boludo! at 8:02 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I pick Bali too, but probably the north coast.
posted by ktkt at 8:02 PM on June 12, 2014

Livingston, Guatemala.
Kep, Cambodia.
Asheville, NC.
Kathmandu, Nepal.
posted by amaire at 8:46 PM on June 12, 2014

Argentina is straight out - their financial problems are causing massive inflation. It was expensive when I was there a year ago and has only gotten moreso. My 230sq ft apartment alone was more than your monthly budget.
posted by zug at 9:07 PM on June 12, 2014

Throw my vote in for Bali. Anywhere in Bali would work as the island isn't so big travel would be an issue. I loved Amed, Ubud and Sanur.
posted by loquat at 9:20 PM on June 12, 2014

Man I would not recommend Livingston. It's really dirty and run down and the beaches are awful. It's not bad for a day trip, but no.
posted by empath at 9:25 PM on June 12, 2014

Best answer: If you want to go to Guatemala, I'd recommend either Antigua or Lake Atitlan. Antigua is a little bit more expensive, but it's convenient to a lot of touristy things and has lots of ex-pats, tourists and tourist agencies that speak english. Atitlan is beautiful and peaceful, but it can be a bit confining, because you're 3 hour bus ride over pretty rough roads to anywhere else.

There's also the beaches of El Salvador, from La Libertad up to the Guatemala border-- incredibly inexpensive and beautiful. You can live for less than $10 a day there pretty easily if you get a long term rental -- the security situation there is a bit dicey, though.
posted by empath at 12:08 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by illuminatus at 12:30 AM on June 13, 2014

Best answer: Malaysia - KL is easyish, but there's also Penang, the Borneo states (Sabah & Sarawak), and a plethora of scenic island types. Or maybe Cameron Highlands or such.

Or Singapore, though that may be pricey, but the Internet is better.
posted by divabat at 12:36 AM on June 13, 2014

Oh yeah, you will definitely be able to get pescatarian food in Malaysia/Singapore.
posted by divabat at 12:36 AM on June 13, 2014

Gatlinburg, TN, from Labor Day through Christmas.

It's in the US, it's beautiful, it's close enough to larger cities that if you needed something, it would be easy to get. You can live remotely in a cabin, or near town if you want to interact with people.

You don't need to worry about language barriers. Appalachian culture abounds, the great Smoky Mountains are at your doorstep, and the people are friendly and helpful.

It's romantic to go to another country, but it eliminates about 300% of stress if you don't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 AM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't know about the cost, or the internet situation, but Crete was the first place that jumped to mind. Especially if one is into ancient history.
posted by catatethebird at 6:31 AM on June 13, 2014

Best answer: I've never had reliable internet connection in Bali and I've been going there since Trio opened the first internet--well, not a cafe, more like a closet, in Ubud, with one computer and emails had to be sent to their address and they would print out a list...anyway, power outages and power surges are also an issue but aside from that, Bali fulfills all your other requirements but seriously, if you want a decent internet connection and a more reliable infrastructure, Chiang Mai in Thailand would suit you better except for the distance from the beaches. (Don't be put off by the current troubles which mostly affect Bangkok.)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

South Dakota. Rural Oklahoma. Central California. Detroit.

If you're going to be writing, being in an interesting, scenic, cultural place is the last place you should go. You'll never get anything done.
posted by Capri at 9:40 AM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Moab, Utah in the fall, winter and spring. Tourists are all gone. Place turns into an absolutely beautiful little town in the middle of the canyonlands. Minutes to be able to hike in some of the most remote and gorgeous parts of the country. Quiet. Lots of artist types. Rent a house for $300. Enjoy the smell of burning juniper from wood burning stoves every morning. Connected enough for good internet access, nice food coop, etc. Most of the restaurants close down in the winter, and it's a good place to focus.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Off-season islands of Croatia like Mali Losinj
posted by wcfields at 12:49 PM on June 13, 2014

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