Best Places to Live and Work in Asia as an Expat 2024 (Revised)

Best Countries to Live and Work in Asia
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Some people seek to relocate to other countries to escape harsh living conditions in their country e.g. jobseekers. Some others relocate to other countries to utilize the available human and economic resources e.g. business owners. Whether as a way of elevating your status, carrying on with a progressive career, or for leisure, you’ll find this list of the best places to live and work in Asia helpful.

Asia holds great potential for expats; however, discovering the best location that fits your needs is as important as your reason for relocating. It’s better you didn’t relocate than to relocate to an environment that does not suit your career or business expectations. This article will help you make the right decision.


  • The best places to live and work in Asia were compiled in no particular order.
  • Factors like happiness level, crime rate, ease of getting along with the country’s culture, and ease of obtaining a visa were put into consideration when compiling this list.
  • You may wonder why some countries with low minimum wages appear on this list of the best places to live and work in Asia. But, be rest assured that they made the list because of other important factors that are not just tied to financial returns.
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Best Places to Live and Work in Asia

Several factors affect the cost of living in any country, city, or community. These factors could be the economy of the country, healthcare and security. However, regardless of these factors, you can still have the best experience in these countries.

Here are the best countries to live and work in Asia:

  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  2. Osaka, Japan
  3. Beijing, China
  4. Seoul, South Korea
  5. Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia
  6. Da Nang, Vietnam

1) Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai Temple

A story recounted by Kat Smith said “At the age of 16, Chiang Mai was one of the first places I ever visited. It was with my parents back then, and I never imagined it would become my winter home”.

Although it is Thailand’s fourth largest city, the balance between urban and rural life is perfect, as you’re never far from nature or a 7/11. Life here is a little more subdued than the bustling Thai capital of Bangkok and the Thai culture here feels far less influenced by Western tourism than Phuket.

Thailand has been a favorite Southeast Asian destination for decades. The Land of Smiles entices expats with its low cost of living, laidback lifestyle, and abundance of gorgeous beaches to explore.

Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the two most popular cities for expats in Thailand. Bangkok is Thailand’s huge, pulsing capital city.

As a major transport hub, it’s easy to access beaches in the south or trekking in the north. English is widely spoken and there is no shortage of shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and other amenities.

Pros: Low cost of living, the laidback pace of life, year-round warm weather, gorgeous beaches and islands, friendly locals, great street food cuisine, and high-quality healthcare.

Visa Options to Live in Thailand

To call Chiang Mai home for a short while, Thailand offers many countries visa-free entry for one month, with an extension for another. Some people do a border crossing to reset the clock, but there are limits to how many times you can do that in a year.

For anyone else, the Thai Elite visa and LTR visa are ideal routes to staying here long-term. 

2) Osaka, Japan

Osaka District

The main form of transport in Osaka is the subway, which makes exploring the city extremely convenient. Trains on most major subway lines will depart every few minutes during peak hour, and the subway is clean and well-maintained, making the commute easy and stress-free.

In addition to the convenient subway, traveling from Osaka to other major cities is simple thanks to the well-connected rail system. It’s easy to enjoy a day in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Nara, or Kobe at the last minute, as these places are all within one hour of Osaka by train.

Osaka is a great city for eating and drinking – so much so that it’s often referred to as the “Kitchen of Japan.” In Osaka, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. In addition to delicious traditional Japanese food, Osaka has some great Italian food and an emerging café culture.

For those who prioritize safety, cleanliness, efficiency, and technology, Japan may top their list of best countries to live in Asia.

Cons: The main issue with living in Japan as a foreigner is that it’s difficult to stay here. There’s no such thing as an investment visa in Japan. That means you’ll either need to start a company, keep a job, or marry a Japanese citizen.

Visa Options to Live in Japan

If you want to move to Japan permanently, you will need to apply for a long-term stay visa at the Japanese diplomatic missions (embassy/consulate) in your home country to enter Japan. Once you get the status of a permanent resident in Japan, it will be indefinite.

3) Beijing, China


Beijing is a global business hub and one of the busiest and most ancient cities in the world. Bridging Chinese traditionalism and modern economic power, Beijing can give you 1,000-year-old temples one minute and towering glass skyscrapers the next. All of this, plus the city’s pollution, congestion problems, and all the usual difficulties one finds on induction to a new culture, can be daunting to new arrivals but luckily the expat community in Beijing is a large yet close-knit one

China is one of the most powerful countries in the world with a population of over 1.3 billion people. China has many industrial cities and is one of the best economies in the world.

The Asian giant has one of the largest growing economies, helping it to rank low on unemployment numbers. More so, China’s healthcare services are relatively affordable.

Cons: China’s cultural heritage may seem difficult to cope with at first, especially for people from Western countries or with strong Western influence.

Visa Options to Live in China

The best way to get a visa into China is either through sponsorship or study. You’ll need to secure a job in China first then the company can help you process your visa on sponsorship. The second best way to relocate on a work basis is to relocate to work as an English teacher.

4) Seoul, South Korea

Downtown Seoul photo by Diego Mariottini

As a mega-city, you could spend an entire year here exploring a new neighborhood every week, and you’d still leave alleys unturned. Not only is it a fun place to live for someone who is bored quickly of routine, but it’s a lot of fun because each neighborhood has its distinct vibe. Want to party all night? Head to Hongdae. Prefer beauty products and high-end street food? Go to Myeong-dong.

Getting from neighborhood to neighborhood is super easy thanks to the public transportation. The buses and subways run on schedule and connect every bit of the city, even some of the suburbs.

Seoul has a massive expat community filled with foreigners who planned to move to the country for a year and just never left. It’s that easy to fall in love with! Plus, it makes making friends a lot easier. Koreans are always welcoming and if you treat your co-workers with respect, chances are they’ll become your first friends in this bustling city.

South Korea is easily a choice location for expats because of the opportunities available to expats, and the ease of getting a visa.

South Korea records a higher employment rate in Asia for foreigners who want to work as English Language Teachers.

According to Statistica, South Korea has an unemployment rate of 3.94%, which is a comparatively low number compared to other Asian countries.

Visa Options to Live in South Korea

Getting a visa is relatively easy for South Korea especially if you want to work as an English Teacher under Korea’s “E2” visa. The government of South Korea is also known for investing heavily in English Education.

Read Also: 9 Best Websites to Find UAE Vacancies for Foreigners

5) Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia


An obvious choice for expats moving to Malaysia is the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. One of the most popular expat destinations in the world, Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant and diverse city with a dynamic economy and jobs across various industries – particularly manufacturing, technology, and pharmaceuticals. The city’s infrastructure is well-developed with international schools, healthcare facilities, and access to modern shopping and entertainment.

The cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is far lower than in Western cities, with the average price of rent in Kuala Lumpur being 83% lower than in London. The estimated cost of living in Kuala Lumpur (without rent) as a single person is around US$541 per month.

Malaysia is one of the most popular places to live in Southeast Asia thanks to its affordability, multicultural society, and modern amenities. The nation’s diversity is reflected in a cuisine that draws from Malay, Chinese, and Indian traditions.

Kuala Lumpur, frequently referred to as KL offers an affordable cosmopolitan lifestyle with air-conditioned shopping malls and an impressive skyline.

  • Low cost of living – especially housing and healthcare
  • Tropical weather and beautiful beaches and islands
  • English is widely spoken especially in major cities

Visa Options to Live in Malaysia

The MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) and PVIP programs are two of Asia’s most popular residence programs, and both make it easy to live in Malaysia permanently. 

Interested in living in Germany? check out the 10 Best City in Germany to Live and Work in 2024: City Comparison

6) Da Nang, Vietnam

Da nang golden bridge

Cut in half by the Han River, the city is split in two: the beach side and the city side. Most expats choose to live on the beach side, filling their days with great views, a tranquil pace of life, and everything you need usually within walking distance. Cross the river and you’re back in any Vietnamese city life, just with a bit less traffic than Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

For digital nomads and expats looking to stretch their budget, Vietnam is one of the most affordable and up-and-coming countries in Southeast Asia. After a turbulent 20th century, Vietnam has risen to become one of the region’s fastest-growing economies.

Most expats living in Vietnam head to one of two places. Either Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

Hanoi offers French colonial architecture, countless scooters buzzing by, and delicious street food starting at $1.

  • Very low cost of living especially for housing and food
  • Excellent visa options including one-year work permits
  • Improving infrastructure including new metro lines


  • Unfortunately, one major problem with living in Vietnam that prevents it from ranking higher on this list is the visa situation.

Read Also: Asian Countries with Highest Demand for English Teachers

The best way to get a visa is through a work visa. Some companies may promise a work visa upon arrival but you should ensure by all means that you obtain the visa before leaving your country.

Worthy Inclusion: Best Countries to Live and Work in Asia

  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • Hong-Kong

Recommended: Best UK Recruitment Agencies That Recruit Foreign Worker


When deciding which place to live and work in Asia, the cost of living and minimum wage shouldn’t be the only things you’ll consider. Some people will pick a place with security and minimum wage over a country with a higher minimum wage and pollution. Access to food, education, health care standards, employment rate, and life expectancy should also be put into consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Country to Work in Asia?

Answer: China is the best country to work in Asia. China is home to thousands of companies and receives so many international visits yearly.

Which is the No. 1 Country in Asia?

Answer: China is the number one country in Asia.

Which Country is Easy to Get a Work Visa in Asia?

Answer: Estonia is known for its high rate of acceptance of work visas from both foreign and international applications, making it the easiest country to obtain a work visa. However, it receives a relatively small number of requests compared to other countries.

Where is the Easiest Place to Live as an Expat?

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Costa Rica
  • Malta

What is the Safest Country to Live in Asia?

Singapore is the safest country in Asia and the sixth safest country in the world, according to the GPI. This modern, cosmopolitan city-state has a high quality of life, a reliable healthcare system, and a low crime rate.

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Richard Okiasi

I started Fasthire in 2019 with the goal of helping young professionals bridge the gap between their current position and their dream careers. Through my growth process, I have worked with clients from different parts of the world. By writing CVs, Personal/Statement of Purposes, optimizing LinkedIn profiles, I have discovered certain things that make candidates successful in their job or school application. We share all the relevant information here. Do well to drop your thoughts about our content and also share with your loved ones. If you need our service, send us a mail to

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