Without a doubt, the motherlode in this region is India. From the contemplative solitude of the mighty Himalayas to the raving hedonism of palm fringed Goa, from the modern techno-city of Bangalore to the millenia old ruins of Hampi, India really has it all.
Unsanitised, English speaking, intensely colourful and cheaper than chips; India is the old traveller’s favourite. With a country this vast, it is easy to find somewhere remote where it can feel that you are the only foreigner that the village ever clapped eyes on. It is also equally easy to set up home somewhere chilled out but only a short bus ride away from busy expat hubs such as Goa, Manali, Agra and Mumbai where you can grab a burger and the latest Stephen King. Delhi is also home to many good publishers, some of whom carry the great works of literature at a pittance since they don’t believe in trifling matters such as copyright.
You can well decently on $300 a month in India, a bit less if you want to start counting the pennies and a bit more if you want luxuries like Himalayan skiing holidays or NBA games on cable. With more than 1 billion very intelligent people and an English speaking tradition, you can have some amazing conversations and friendships with the Indians. Some people do find the overt poverty of some places disquieting. While your $300 a month means you will never be in a position that dismal, you still have to learn to deal with witnessing the daily struggles of countless thousands who are indeed that unlucky.
Outside India, the other notable foreigner hubs are Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal where you can get most of the Western luxuries you could ever wish for. Nepalese women, with their mix of Tibetan and Aryan features are arguably one of the most beautiful in the world. Buddhist Sri Lanka is regarded by many as the most laid back of the South Asian states. Pakistan is like caviar – salty, acquired taste that can become very addictive if you are not careful. Bangladesh, urm, is kinda crowded and rains a lot.
We’d recommend South Asia if money is a major concern, and if you have an appetite for the extremes that life has to offer.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), we rate India in the following categories:
Healthcare: 7 (for foreigners anyway)
Social Options: 10
Visas & Permits: 7
No Hassle Ratio: 3
Value for Money: 10
As a benchmark, we would rate, for the average Londoner moving to say, Orlando Florida:
Healthcare: 5 (due to price and bureaucratic issues)
Social Options: 7
Visas and Permits: 7
No Hassle Ratio: 9
Value for Money: 6