American emigrants there: 12,000 in Indonesia
Why it’s easy: A major reason so many expats are able to flounce around Indonesia for indefinite periods of time is that this South Asian nation offers a social visa -- an affordable single-entry visa that’s easily renewable for up to six months. Six months might not seem like much of a guarantee for such a far-flung place, and the task of tracking down a sponsor letter from an Indonesian citizen (a requirement) may seem daunting, but there is a well-worn hack to the system. The hack? Balinese travel agents, who will magically (and affordably) produce an invitation letter from a local sponsor, even if you’ve never stepped foot on the equator-straddling nation. Hack to the hack: Use Google to find one, then the telephone to confirm. With that paperwork, which will be delivered by mail or FedEx, you can apply for the visa through your local Indonesian embassy and then, once it’s granted, move.
So what happens after you’ve moved to Bali, fallen in passionate love with the sublime landscape, the very low cost of living, and the morning yoga, but your six months are up? You do what every other self-proclaimed digital nomad in Ubud, Bali’s cultural hub, does: Fly to Singapore (a round-trip ticket averages $100 USD), apply for a new social visa at the Indonesian embassy, and return to your morning yoga routine three days later.
The catch: If you do choose Bali specifically, which you will because everyone knows English, you’ll surely encounter a pilgrimage of white Westerners who, faced with some personal crossroads, are getting on their Eat, Pray, Love. (For the love of all that is holy, don’t let that be you.) Those folks likely have divorce settlements, money from some vague grant, or legal-weed dividends to fund their exotic introspection. If those aren’t your circumstances, know that there aren’t many options for local income, so most foreigners rely on online work to fund their very affordable existences. (Internet can vary dramatically in smaller towns or beach communities, which is a factor, but not an obstacle.) In Bali, the medical infrastructure is weak, a smattering of clinics and one main hospital, so there’s a steady stream of people heading to Singapore or Bangkok for surgeries as well as visas. Also, road rash is a lifestyle -- everyone gets around on scooters and motorbikes -- but hey, maybe that’s your thing.