Best Asian Country To Live In As A Foreigner

Looking to become an expat in Asia? Or wondering which Asian country should i live in? This article will lead you down the many roads you can take when deciding which is the best Asian country to live in as a foreigner. 

When living in Asia, you will find a beautiful place with many opportunities for travellers and expats. It is full of colour, culture, history and language, creating an exceptional experience for anyone travelling or intending to live there.

Foreigners are drawn to Asia, in particular, for various reasons, as the continent offers a diverse range of cultures, landscapes, experiences, and opportunities. 

Home to an incredibly diverse range of cultures, languages, traditions, and histories. From the ancient wonders of China and India to the modern vibrancy of Japan and South Korea, there’s a vast array of cultural experiences to explore.

happy Solo traveler sightseeing at Hoi An ancient town in central Vietnam, man traveling with backpack and hat. landmark and popular for tourist attractions. Vietnam and Southeast Asia travel concept

You will find a rich history with numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient temples, palaces, and historic landmarks. This historical depth attracts those interested in learning about civilisations and their contributions to human heritage.

For those who prefer warm and tropical climates, Asia offers a wide range of destinations with year-round sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

The continent offers breathtaking natural landscapes, including pristine beaches, lush jungles, towering mountains, serene lakes, and vast deserts. From the tropical paradises of Southeast Asia to the Himalayan peaks, the natural beauty of Asia is a significant draw.

This stunning area of the planet provides a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s trekking in the Himalayas, diving in the crystal-clear waters of Southeast Asia, or exploring ancient trade routes along the Silk Road, there’s no shortage of adventurous activities.

A significant interest for many, Asian cuisine is renowned worldwide for its variety, flavours, and culinary traditions. Each country offers its own unique dishes, street food, and dining experiences that are a delight for all food enthusiasts. 

A factor behind many decisions to move to Asia is that many parts of this continent offer a lower cost of living than Western countries and other areas around the world, making it an attractive destination for expatriates looking to stretch their budgets while enjoying a high quality of life.

Many cultures within Asia are known for their warmth and hospitality towards visitors. Foreigners often find themselves welcomed with open arms and genuine kindness. Asia’s rapid economic growth has led to increasing job opportunities, particularly in fields such as technology, finance, and education.

Woman traveler at  viewpoint at Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida island, Bali, Indonesia

Expatriates seeking career advancement may find appealing prospects in Asian cities. For some, the lower cost of living leads to a better lifestyle regarding finances or factors like health insurance. 

On the other hand, Asia is home to various spiritual and wellness traditions, such as yoga, meditation, and traditional Chinese medicine. Many foreigners are drawn to these practices to rejuvenate their minds and bodies.

From colourful festivals like Diwali in India to the Lantern Festival in China, Asia hosts many vibrant cultural celebrations that provide an immersive experience for all travellers.

The idea of learning an Asian language attracts many people far and wide. Immersing in the language and culture can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the region, gaining the respect from locals. 

Each individual has their own reasons for being drawn to Asia; you may be a a part of the travelling digital nomads community or someone who has made their decision to change their lifestyle and move overseas.

The appeal of Asia lies in its incredible diversity, offering something for everyone, whether they are seeking adventure, cultural exploration, career opportunities, or personal growth.

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Singapore

Beautiful Singapore is one of the best countries to live in Asia and a very underrated country that strives to create the best quality of life for its citizens. Many are making the move to Asia, and a large portion of expatriates are choosing Singapore.

When it comes to safety and security, Singapore has it down. It’s known for its low crime rate and strict laws, creating a safe and secure environment especially appealing to those relocating with families.

Its highly developed and diverse economy provides ample job opportunities and a stable economic climate. It is consistently ranked as one of the most accessible places to do business due to its business-friendly policies, minimal bureaucracy, and well-established financial institutions.

Many expats choose Singapore for its education system and world-class healthcare structure; you will find modern medical facilities with skilled healthcare professionals. The environment within the country has clean streets, well-maintained parks, and a commitment to sustainability.

The government’s efforts in maintaining a clean and green environment are clear and consistent, adding to their efficiency.

The city-state is renowned for its modern and efficient infrastructure, including a well-connected public transportation system, excellent healthcare facilities, and world-class education institutions. 

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, making it a welcoming and comfortable society. This diversity is reflected in the cuisine, festivals, and various cultural events held throughout the year.

English is one of the official languages of Singapore, making it easier to communicate with locals and faster to settle in. Despite its modernity, Singapore has retained its cultural heritage through neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam, allowing residents to experience a blend of old and new.

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Merlion statue fountain in Merlion Park and Singapore city skyline at sunrise. Merlion fountain is one of the most famous tourist attraction in Singapore.

Indonesia

Nominated as the best country to live in Asia 2023 and every traveller’s dream, Indonesia is an exotic destination to move to.

It has stolen the hearts of many, who are looking to integrate into a welcoming and hospitable Asian country that offers an iconic tropical paradise. Its colourful diversity of cultures from around the world can be seen reflected in the lifestyle, food and art. 

I will point out the obvious, and mention how unbelievably beautiful Indonesia is. Still, this country is known for its stunning landscapes.

This natural beauty offers a range of outdoor activities and opportunities for exploration from its survivor-like beaches, to its deep, green tropical jungles; there is much to be found within the trees and all its islands. Indonesia’s humid climate attracts those who prefer warmer weather throughout the year.

The laid-back and relaxed lifestyle is transparent throughout the country. It appeals to individuals looking to escape the fast-paced environment of urban systems.

The cost of living is a significant factor and is generally lower than in many Western countries. It is excellent for those looking to improve their quality of life on a budget. Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries to live in Asia.

It provides a rich and flavorful cuisine with many dishes to explore. Generally known for their hospitality and friendliness, the locals are family-orientated and supportive. 

Indonesia is home to some of the most livable cities in Asia. It holds many famous tourist destinations such as Bali, Yogyakarta, Komodo Island, and more. Many of these places have grown into a significant expatriate community, helping to provide a sense of belonging and a support network for newcomers.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Beratan Temple Bali island Indonesia. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a major Shivaite and water temple on Bali island Indonesia.

Japan

Out of all the Asian countries, Japan takes the cake for being one of the most beautiful. City life, compared to its rural counterpart, is very different. Still, both take on a natural and easy-paced way of living with many contributing factors as to why it is the best country in Asia to live and work in. 

It boasts a high standard of living with excellent healthcare, education, modern infrastructure, persistent government, efficient public transportation, and well-maintained public spaces.

Known for its low crime rate, safe streets, and clean cities, the strong emphasis on public order and cleanliness contributes to a sense of security for residents.

Japan has one of the world’s most efficient and extensive public transportation systems, making it easy to get around cities and travel across the country. The Japanese work culture is known for its discipline, punctuality, and dedication. 

Japan’s diverse geography offers stunning landscapes, from the serene countryside to beautiful coastal areas and majestic mountains. 

Its rich cultural heritage includes traditional arts, festivals, and rituals. Japanese culture strongly emphasises politeness, respect, and social harmony, and foreigners often appreciate courteous and considerate interactions in daily life.

Many historical sites, temples, shrines, and traditional architecture offer opportunities to explore the country’s past and cultural significance. The cuisine is famous worldwide for its variety, presentation, and healthiness. 

Overall, Japan is one of the best places to live as a foreigner since it offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity, allowing expatriates to immerse themselves in a dynamic and culturally rich environment. 

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Fujiyoshida, Japan Beautiful view of mountain Fuji and Chureito pagoda at sunset, japan in the spring with cherry blossoms

Malaysia

One of the best places to live in Asia for expats in Malaysia. It is a country that has gained popularity among many for its diverse culture, vibrant lifestyle, and range of amenities. It has a  multicultural society and provides a wide range of traditions and viewpoints.

People generally choose places that aren’t so culturally narrow when it comes to living abroad. Malaysia is known for its multicultural society, blending Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous cultures.

This diversity creates a rich tapestry of traditions, festivals, and cuisines. The country holds some of the best cities to live in Asia, and their significant cities boast modern infrastructure, including well-developed public transportation, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions.

The country’s strategic location, developing economy, and business-friendly policies offer expatriates professional growth and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Malaysia generally offers a lower cost of living than many Western countries, making it a popular destination for good living on a budget. It has a well-established expatriate community, particularly in cities like Kuala Lumpur,  providing support and social connections for newcomers.

English is widely spoken in Malaysia, making communication easier for expatriates who may need to be fluent in local languages. You will find a range of shopping malls, entertainment venues, nightlife options, and diverse flavours and cuisine. 

Like many other countries, Malaysia offers beautiful landscapes, from tropical rainforests to pristine beaches and lush highlands. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore national parks, go hiking, or relax by the sea.

It has a tropical climate, providing warm weather throughout the year, which can be appealing to individuals who prefer a sunny environment. 

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Kuala Lumpur skyline with Petronas Twin Towers skyscrapers on sunset. View over Titiwangsa Lake. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Vietnam

At the top of the list, Vietnam has hit number one for being one of the cheapest countries to live in Asia and a favourite among many. Not only is it an affordable option, but it sits deep in rich history, stunning landscapes and a vibrant, welcoming culture that many love. 

Vietnam is known for its low cost of living compared to its counterparts. It offers a good quality of life for budgeted amounts. The country has relatively relaxed visa policies, and many expats find navigating the bureaucracy and settling in fairly straightforward.

Vietnam’s economy has been experiencing consistent growth, leading to a growing job market and business opportunities, particularly in the technology, manufacturing, and tourism sectors.

The country’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant traditions can be intriguing and rewarding for anyone seeking new experiences. The people are friendly, with warm hospitality towards foreigners.

Vietnamese cuisine is celebrated worldwide for its fresh ingredients, flavorful dishes, and regional specialties. Many expats explore the local food markets and try various street food options. The tropical climate of Vietnam, with its warm temperatures, attracts many for a more hospitable environment.

Vietnam offers various cultural and recreational activities, from exploring historical sites and ancient temples to engaging in water sports and hiking.

While English isn’t the primary language, many urban areas and tourist destinations are where English is spoken and understood, making communication easier for expats. In cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, a well-established ex-pat community provides support, networking opportunities, and a sense of home.

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Hoi An, Vietnam - Old buildings with the river in Hoi An, Vietnam. The historic old town of Hoi An is UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

Philippines

The Philippines has become a popular hotspot for those retiring and one of the best countries to live in Asia for expats searching for warmer climates and cheaper living conditions.

Since it is only a fraction of what it would cost in America and other first-world countries, the Philippines is a growing country with beautiful beaches and landscapes.

It boasts a friendly community of locals and expats, offering a great package overall with its growing infrastructure and economy. Filipinos are known around the world to be some of the hardest and most reliable workers, contributing to the increase in businesses and markets. 

With a diverse cultural landscape influenced by a mix of indigenous, Spanish, American, and Asian cultures, the enlarged diversity provides expats with unique cultural experiences and interactions.

English is widely spoken and understood in the Philippines, making communication easier for many foreigners. This can facilitate everyday interactions, business dealings, and social connections.

Filipinos are often known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature, which help create a welcoming environment for foreigners. It offers a variety of activities for expats, ranging from water sports and diving to cultural festivals and exploration of historic sites.

The Philippines is known for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and tropical climate. The cost of living can be lower than in many Asian and Western countries, making it an attractive option for ex-pats.

This country is often considered a retirement destination for ex-pats due to its cost-effectiveness, scenic beauty, and range of activities for retirees.

Established ex-pat communities can provide social support, networking opportunities, and a sense of community in certain areas, such as Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

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Tropical solitude -  white sandy beaches of Philippines, El Nido

Thailand

Another popular destination for expats and visitors is Thailand, one of the best places to live in Southeast Asia and a hub for all things culturally different and exciting. It offers a complete package of traditional cuisine, diverse culture, a low cost of living and a significant expat community.

The expat community in particular, is a thriving family of people from around the world that has settled in this stunning country. A hub for English teachers and remote workers, you won’t struggle finding your place there. 

In most areas, Thailand has a rich cultural heritage, including historic temples, festivals, and traditional art forms. Beautifully designed buildings and proud artwork line the streets, malls and islands.

The tropical climate, famous beaches, lush landscapes, and diverse geography make Thailand an appealing destination for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities and warm weather. Thai cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavours and variety.

There are a variety of markets and food festivals where you will find locals and visitors exploring and trying a wide range of dishes and ingredients. It has become known as a hub for health and wellness, offering options for medical tourism, yoga retreats, and spa resorts.

Established ex-pat communities can provide social support, networking opportunities, and a sense of belonging in cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

You will find many thriving communities on the surrounding islands and in smaller villages. Thailand’s central location in Southeast Asia makes it a convenient base for exploring other regional countries, especially since it has well-developed transportation networks.

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Yee peng festival and sky lanterns at Wat Phra Singh temple at night in Chiang mai, Thailand.

South Korea

This wonderful country offers a high standard of living at a low cost. South Korea is one of the best Asian countries to live in and for many reasons. Over the years, people have moved towards South Korea for its generous salaries and comfortable lifestyle.

You will find welcoming hosts and friendly locals with big smiles on their faces. Places like land of the Morning Calm is a popular destination for foreigners and expats from around the globe. 

South Korea has a strong and technologically advanced economy, with opportunities in various sectors, including technology, finance, manufacturing, and education.

It is often considered a tech-savvy nation with developed infrastructure, which can attract expats interested in technology and innovation. Cities like Seoul offer a blend of traditional culture and modern amenities, providing a diverse range of experiences for expats and visitors. 

This Asian country is known for its high-quality education system, and some expats are drawn to the government for educational opportunities for themselves or their children.

Its rich cultural heritage offers traditional music, art, and architecture alongside modern cultural phenomena like K-pop and Korean dramas. Various public services and amenities include parks, recreational facilities, and cultural centres.

While Korean is the primary language, many South Koreans have some English proficiency, particularly in urban areas.

South Korea has a well-developed and efficient public transportation system, making navigating cities and exploring the country easy.

The government has a reputable healthcare system with modern medical facilities that appeal to expats concerned about healthcare access. Korean cuisine has gained international recognition, and expats often enjoy the diverse range of dishes available.

Seoul, South Korea. Cityscape image of Seoul, South Korea with the Seoul Bongeunsa Temple in the Gangnam District at sunset.

Cambodia

Welcome to the country of cultural richness, friendly locals and home to developers from around the world… All jokes aside, many people do actually move to Cambodia to move forward with their developer careers.

Apart from that, its beautiful scenery, history and low cost of living attract people from all over the world. The ex-pat community is on an exponential rise and steadily growing. 

Cambodia has a relatively low cost of living, with a laid-back and slower pace of life. The locals are often known for their friendliness and welcoming nature, which can make it easier for expats to integrate into local communities.

Cambodia has a rich cultural heritage, includes historic temples like Angkor Wat and traditional art forms. Expats often appreciate the opportunity to experience and learn from this cultural diversity. The tropical climate, stunning landscapes, and coastal areas appeal to expats who enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities.

Cambodia’s growing economy and increasing foreign investment have created tourism, real estate, and business opportunities. Many expats are attracted to Cambodia for its volunteer and nonprofit opportunities, contributing to community development and social causes.

In cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, established expat communities provide social support, networking, and a sense of belonging.

While Khmer is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas and tourist destinations, making communication easier for expats. Cambodian cuisine offers a variety of flavours and dishes, blending local ingredients with influences from neighbouring countries.

Its history, including the Khmer Rouge era, has drawn many expats interested in understanding and contributing to the country’s recovery and development.

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PHNOM PENH CAMBODIA - Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh headquarter of Cambodian Buddhism

Final Thoughts: best asian cities to live in

Overall, Asia is a beautiful place that offers a whole world of cultural diversity and a different way of living. From its turbulent history to a cherished religion derived through spirituality, expats worldwide have flocked to numerous Asian countries to gain the whole experience.

Out of all the best places to live in Asia, many provide various ways of living and different lifestyles to choose from that better suit your preferences. There are many factors to consider as to why people decide to leave the home they grew up in and embark on a journey that better fits their way of life. 

Many expats are drawn to the opportunity to explore new places and embark on exciting adventures, while others seek comfort and convenience. Some may focus more on Asia’s dynamic business environment and pursue career opportunities.

In contrast, others are searching to learn spiritual and philosophical traditions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, for a deeper understanding of spiritual practices and a more mindful way of living.

It is well-known that many Asian countries offer a higher salary than Western countries, a lower tax rate, and even more work opportunities for those from abroad due to languages and skills. 

The reasons vary, but thanks to everything Asia offers, this continent provides a vast network of expat communities, local and foreign support, a lower cost of living, beautiful scenery, high education and a cultural blend of people living side-by-side. 

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